The global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 has radically changed how businesses operate. The retail industry in particular has been highly impacted by the social distancing norms that have been executed in order to prioritize and ensure the safety of citizens.
Quite a large number of consumers, nearly 85% of shoppers in China now prefer shopping via online stores from the safety and comfort of their own homes as compared to visiting brick-and-mortar stores. This statistic means that digital commerce is now more popular than ever with a number of legacy brands and offline stores rapidly moving towards the e-commerce model.
While e-commerce is by no means a novel idea, consumers, before the pandemic, used it largely as a channel to shop for clothing and beauty products, non-essential household supplies, electronics, childcare products, etc. However, the current situation has shifted the dynamic, leading to the majority of consumers relying on online shopping vendors to procure daily essentials and groceries. Consumer products that were earlier largely procured from nearby grocery stores and supermarkets.
In light of this situation and to explore the future of e-commerce in a post-COVID-19 world, we joined hands with a number of industry leaders from renowned companies like RazorPay, Shopify, and Shyplite at Saral 2020, a one-of-its-kind virtual e-commerce summit hosted by Unicommerce where we discussed at length, about the logistics of selling directly to the consumer or the D2C model through digital commerce.
Here’s a brief overview of the panel discussion.
The Anatomy of Building A Successful Ecommerce Brand
The core value that enables the success of an e-commerce brand is how consumers perceive your brand. The story that you tell your consumers through your website and your presence across social media channels, how you engage with your consumers, and proactive communication, all play a key role here.
In the session, we discuss in detail, four points that are the cornerstones of building a strong reputation with customers and a successful e-commerce brand.
1. The D2C model and It’s increasing popularity
An increasing number of consumers are now heavily dependant online shopping with higher frequency, acting as a huge driver to change how businesses function. In such a scenario, having an online brand presence just doesn’t cut it. With a higher than ever number of brands emerging online, the key to survival lies in superseding customer expectations. It is important for businesses to be exactly where their consumers are and with no time to waste which is why more and more businesses are moving towards the direct-to-consumer model of commerce.
The rise of end-to-end online commerce platforms, payment platforms, shipping aggregators, and conversational tools have broken down the barriers to setting up your business online and directly approaching customers which have also, in part played a huge role in the popularity of the D2C model.
2. WhatsApp As An Alternative Customer Engagement Channel for D2C Brands
WhatsApp, a simple but widely-used communication platform has a whopping 2 Billion users on it with an average user spending over 23 minutes every day on it. As brands focus on building recognition and reputation, we cannot even begin to emphasize the importance of leveraging such a platform with a huge pre-aggregated audience base to reach out to customers. Ecommerce brands especially have a winning game here considering that the WhatsApp platform has APIs that can be used to drive end-to-end commerce and support for brands that engage with their customers through WhatsApp.
A number of retail brands are even using conversational AI, a rising technological trend in conjunction with WhatsApp to enable a seamless shopping experience for customers by managing inventory and communication operations.
3. The real advantage of using WhatsApp for D2C
The ecosystem for WhatsApp Business is evolving quite rapidly, which is not surprising given its popularity. However, the advantage of using a channel like WhatsApp for your e-commerce business is that you can easily start with just a basic WhatsApp Business Account with little backend requirements. This means that little to no time is wasted in sharing your inventory with your customers and receiving their orders.
Case in point, At Yellow Messenger, we enabled one of the largest retailer brands in India to go live with their AI-powered WhatsApp Business Account in just 5 days! The grocery assistant that we helped them to set up is now live across 33 cities in India and in over 160 stores handling more than 1100 concurrent conversations every second!
Simply put, WhatsApp is an asynchronous communication channel that enables you to kickstart conversations with your customers without having to wait for all the pieces of the selling ecosystem to fall into place, making it one of the fastest ways to interact with your customers. It is a low investment but a high reward channel for direct commerce.
4. The viability of D2C Selling As the World Emerges from the Pandemic
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, globally, enterprises and industries were already on their way to becoming digitally robust. In fact, according to a study by Gartner, the global spending on digital transformation was projected to be at $3.7 trillion in 2019. This being said, and with people across the globe placing a higher preference for shopping online, it is only natural to say that D2C selling is more than just hype and here to stay.
Adding to this is the fact that platforms like WhatsApp with a pre-aggregated audience have broken down barriers to reaching out to customers and setting up a digital commerce landscape for your business making D2C the sensible option for selling.
These are some of the key takeaways from the live panel discussion at Saral 2020. If you’d like to delve a little deeper into them or if you missed the session entirely, here’s an on-demand session recording for you to help you discover how you can set up your e-commerce brand for success.