With an increased dependency on ecommerce for essential needs, Indian homegrown direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands have a massive growth opportunity. What sets the D2C model apart from other traditional retail-centric brands, is the fact that it connects the brands directly with consumers and customers.
The IBEF estimates that internet and smartphone penetration will result in 51% growth in the ecommerce market, which is projected to reach $120 Bn this year and $200 Bn by 2026. Drawn in by this potential, new and traditional brands both have jumped on the D2C bandwagon.
Intense competition in the booming market would mean customer experience wouldn’t end at the sale of a product rather enhanced by the right post-purchase experience. Brands, therefore, have had to pay attention to quality and timely management of deliveries, providing customers with real-time and on-demand information about their orders, return policies, workflow management and more.
Though multiple startups have forayed into this market, Shipway, founded by Vikas Garg and Gaurav Gupta, is creating a niche for itself, by helping ecommerce players reduce customer support costs and increase customer satisfaction.
Back in 2015, when the duo started working on the idea, they noticed that brands usually end up neglecting time-consuming and error-prone manual management tasks while building their businesses. These tasks include managing multiple sales channels or creating a complete workflow for the back-office and more. Shipway aims to bridge these gaps by providing an end-to-end solution for brands to sell on multiple channels and offer fast and reliable shipping to customers.
“We wanted to empower ecommerce merchants and the seller community with tech, enabling them to automate and manage their back-office operations with ease. Which in turn allows them to scale their business and serve customers in a better and efficient way,” said Gupta.
Shipway claims its services help ecommerce businesses improve post buying experience by providing reviews from the customers and alerts on delivery problems and self-service returns/exchanges.
Other services provided by the startup include easier accounting, fraud detection, NDR (non-delivery report) management, tracking updates and notifications, and more.
To ensure best services and solutions to its clients, the startup has three types of partners, namely logistics or distribution companies, shopping cart software providers and ecommerce enablers such as Shopify, WooCommerce and others as well as ecommerce SaaS platforms such as Thirdwatch, Adyogi and more for analytics and customer experience management.
Today, the bootstrapped startup serves over 10K ecommerce businesses such as MensXP, Moglix and more, and processes over 3.5 Mn orders every month. Gupta is optimistic it will be able to double that in the next six months.
Covid Impact On Indian Ecommerce Industry And Shipway’s Growth Amidst It All
There is no denying that the pandemic has only further increased the rate of ecommerce adoption in the country. Not only has it led to more customers shopping online but with the lockdown, leveraging ecommerce was the only option for many businesses.
“Shopping online has now become a necessity rather than a convenience. If we see the emerging pattern, brands growing in D2C segments are focussing not only on innovative products and finding the right voice for their brand, but also on customer experience and their feedback,” the Shipway cofounder told Inc42.
Adding to that, Gupta noted that all these businesses are working with lean teams and are growing with the help of tech and automation. And that is where solutions provided by startups such as Shipway are further benefiting them, he believes.
When asked about the revenue growth during the past few months, Gupta said, “We have been able to achieve almost double the revenue before the lockdown. And we are expecting the same growth for the next six months.”
Working on a subscription-based model with monthly and annual plans, the startup pricing plans start from INR 1K. Starting with a team of just two people, today the startup boasts of having over 45 employees in the team.
The logistics sector has seen an increase in investor attention as well in the past few years, while the overall funding in the sector stood at $438.52 Mn in 2018, it went to over $942.73 Mn in 2019.
Noting the potential of the market and the willingness of the sellers to adopt tech, Shipway is positive that it will be able to increase its revenue by 7x by the end of this financial year.
Shipway: Challenges And Future Aspirations
Building a product like Shipway comes with its own set of challenges. Two major struggles for Shipway have been finding the right talent and syncing operations such as product development, marketing, sales and more. And the lockdown has not made it any easier for the startup.
Though tools such as Slack, Jira, cloud telephony and more have made the shift to remote operations easier, onboarding new talent has become a greater issue now, due to the time it takes for new joinees to adjust and collaborate.
Additionally, Gupta said it is easy for employees to suffer from mental fatigue in these situations. “To overcome these we regularly do some fun activities and one on one meetings. We have an open environment where anyone can share their concerns without any hesitation and that has really helped,” he said.
Currently, the startup is working on developing an enterprise tech application that handles all back-office operations for D2C brands while also providing a DIY experience to its customers. “What’s happening nowadays is the team involved in operation still has to make a lot of decisions while processing orders. We want to reduce these decision-making processes with the help of AI and automation,” said Gupta.
Focussing primarily on India, the startup plans to expand to Southeast Asia and the Middle East soon . This would largely depend on the partnerships Shipway is able to form with players such as logistics companies from these markets as everything is much easier today due to the necessity of working remotely.