India has been witnessing a surge in online shopping, which has been fuelled by 750 million internet users. The strict lockdown due to COVID has drastically increased the significance of virtual shopping. Increased internet penetration and changing customer behaviour have led to disruption of D2C brands that has led to the increase of 25% year-on-year growth.
However, while reaching to the customers without the involvement of middle-men, brands can never discount the involvement of supply chain and fulfillment centers as it creates a value for their product in the market, as well as value for the brand. While brands have a different model, the challenges are majorly the same such as Inventory Management at scale, Efficient order processing, Timely dispatches and Last mile order tracking.
To know more about this, we spoke to Ritika Jayaswal, CEO & Founder, Nourish Mantra. Nourish Mantra established in 2019 is providing modern skincare wellness products that are 100% vegan, cruelty free and created with ethically sourced ingredients.
Logistics as a Challenge
With the surge in online shopping, the direct to consumer brands(D2C) brands have highlighted the problems that exist when it comes to shipping. According to a report by Narvar, 36% of customers experienced subsequent delays during the pandemic. When asked how Nourish Mantra is overcoming challenges in their supply chain or logistics in order to provide a seamless delivery experience, Jayaswal said “At Nourish Mantra, we have two fulfillment centers situated in New Delhi and New Jersey, US as we operate internationally as well. And currently the delivery process in New Delhi is operated by us and for the New Jersey warehouse center we have partnered with the third party logistics partner to provide quick delivery as it is a necessity for a customer. Companies providing grocery delivery have overall changed the consumer mindset, and even though beauty as a category is not an urgent category. But, there are some levels of services that are expected from us as a brand if our competitor is providing the same. For this reason, we are moving to a logistic partner in India as it provides us to ship orders quickly and get better standardization. We’re focussing on core competencies and hoping for market expansion.”
She also added about the challenges faced in the supply chain due to COVID and added “Supply chain disruptions not only affected the fulfillment part, but also other parts of the business. At the production level, the manufacturing part was functioning
but there was no delivery of raw materials and there was no transport that could deliver the finished products. So, we broke into three parts- production, packaging and shipping. I would advise brands to break it down to demand forecasting and planning. Look at the demand trends, bestsellers and seasonality of the product and plan it accordingly. We’re keeping a lean fulfillment team or moving to a three PL warehouse and negotiating with the shipping partners for rates and ensuring contactless deliveries.”
Communicate with Customers
Customer is a God, a term we have heard a lot in the market. But when it comes to the digital model, it becomes a challenge as the customers’ expectations have risen in the pandemic, and it becomes tough to present an accurate image of the delivery. Jayaswal added to this, “As we know the good news is that some surveys show that customers are open to tolerant and slower shipping times. This is mainly due to the supply chain delay globally, like people are buying new cars but willing to wait for 6 months till the time it is getting delivered. As a brand marking a product out of stock creates a bad image if we can communicate with them about the longer delivery timings. As a brand, one should not over promise to the consumers. Just don’t take orders just to get the sales upfront and the customers cancels it and it’s the fastest way to disappoint the customers. It’s better to keep them in loop with SMS or Email Notifications or Whatsapp Notifications is a best practice nowadays.”