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Winning Retail Wars the D2C Way

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By Manoj Chugh- ICT Expert

A few years ago, whilst speaking to a bunch of sales folks focused in the B2B space, I spoke about the great transition that had started to occur. In the past, we would try and gain customer mindshare through a series of physical interactions, spread over several months or years. However, after the ubiquitous smart phone arrived on the scene, things began to change. The question that I posed to the team was, how would we gain customer mindshare as they engaged more and more in the Virtual world. Whilst customer continued to work out of well appointed offices , their mind was being “usurped” by the Digital World. They were living in a physical world but engaging more and more in cyberspace. It was therefore become imperative to find ways of engaging with customers and “ knocking at their doors” in their Virtual World.

The challenges is even more stark, when it comes to Consumer Brands. Whilst listing oneself on several marketplaces is a good “start up” strategy, however winning the battle for wallet share in crowded markets, full of similar offerings and products is incredibly hard. A few keystrokes lead to the display of a plethora of thinly differentiated offerings. How does one stand out? Digital Advertising has gained currency, but return on advertising spend is tough to measure and customer acquisition costs have shot through the roof. Post the pandemic many more customers have joined the online bandwagon. Everyone from the “nukkad” shop to boutique fashion brands have moved to cyberspace as if there were no tomorrow. Gaining attention has become incredibly though.

In B2B selling, creating a rhythm of engagement with a potential customer, even when they are not in the purchase cycle is key. D2C brands need to learn to do this much better in the Digital World. Content is key to enabling success. Educating customers even when they are not actively buying from you is important. The troika of great content, community and commerce will help win in the new marketplace. Through the process of education, one can build a great connect with the brand. Customers understand what you stand for and your values. Your Purpose is unveiled and a deep connection established. Customers will come for content, but clearly will stay longer if you can help them connect with relevant communities. Whilst Websites can make the purchase process smooth, the larger goal is to get the customer to stay in the store as long as possible. At every point a customer clicks, there should not be a “ give and a get”. Giving without an expectation helps build long term affinity with the brand. From a technology perspective, many organizations resort to doing everything on their own. This can he really hard, given that there are limited resources and the current battle for talent does not make it easy. Point solutions make it hard to differentiate and integrating different modules as one expands over time, makes it messier.

It is well recognized that despite the challenges, the need to reach out directly to Customers ( D2C) is the only approach which will help Brands to thrive and survive in the long term. Unfortunately, existing Commerce Platforms do not provide the tech differentiation that Digital Native brands are looking for, to drive organic growth, since these are not purpose built, though they maybe good for start up firms. As the customer base grows and expectations change, tech integration nightmares create huge roadblocks on the road to customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Building a Direct to Customer, D2C business, pivoted on organic consumer growth and brand loyalty is perhaps the best approach for digital native brands. This reduces customer acquisition costs, whilst enabling customer delight. This Direct Channel helps to create customer stickiness through great content and community engagement, helping drive sustainable commerce growth.

Dhiraj Jain of DotKonnekt has done a superlative job in building an Experiential Commerce Platform for brands looking to grow organically by creating unique experiences to drive consumer engagement. With the innovative convenience of DIY and enabling the flexibility of custom built platforms, Dhiraj has enabled brands to design differentiated experiences which act as their moat, without having to invest in expensive custom built platforms.

For a customer in the Natural Wellness business, Dhiraj’s Experiential Commerce Platform has helped the Brand attract hordes of new customers by helping reimagine experiential engagement through interesting recipes and then inspiring customers to try and buy different products. Initially the firm had been struggling to draw customers and was dependent on paid ads. They explored various DIY platforms and even tried building their own custom platform. However they were unable to deliver a differentiated experience that would inspire consumers to engage meaningfully. DotKonnekt’s Experiential Platform has helped them to create a rich and engaging site through conversational content and community engagement. The firm for the longest time had not been able to monetize it’s rich library of vegan recipes. DotKonnekt’s platform allowed them to integrate products into these recipes as shoppable ingredients, whilst also motivating customers to sign up for related courses. This brand was finally able to harness it’s rich repository of recipes for business benefit.

Investing in an Experiential Platform that understands the innards of D2C and allows the brand’s unique needs to unfold whilst telling it’s many hidden stories create an ever- lasting connection with consumers. A purpose built tech foundation can undoubtedly go a long way to help build customer loyalty, drive organic growth and bring unique experiences by integrating insights and bringing synergies from a larger partner ecosystem.

( The views expressed by the author are personal and his own)

Other articles by Manoj Chugh

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Bringing Physical and Digital Worlds together: Enabling India’s Demographic Dividend

Delivering Services the SST Way- The Time Is Here and Now!

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Network Security Quo Vadis?

Guns, Roses and Cyberwarfare

Will Technology accelerate the bounce back?

Mirror Mirror on the wall: Can Technology bring hope to all?

New Year Wish: CIOs, May Your Tribe Increase!

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Will Smarter Citizens deliver Smart Cities?

Safe Cities: Melding Technology with Compassion

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