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Product is key to customer delight: Experts at India D2C Summit 2023

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Experts at the India D2C Summit & Awards 2023 discussed on the importance of focusing on various aspects of product, from innovation to delivery

Mumbai: An unwavering focus on product is key for the growth of D2C businesses, said heads of various successful D2C businesses speaking as part of the panel discussion ‘From $100 bn to $1000 bn: How will D2C brands serve India consumption boom’ at the India D2C Summit & Awards 2023 on Wednesday.

Making a hero product
For Aashish Batra, co-founder, Mypaperclip that started as a purely offline brand in 2013, product has been the hero since inception. Revealing the brand’s mantra for its global acceptance and success, he said it was important to have a product that is habit forming and has a wow factor to it. He further highlighted the importance of creating a right distribution channel as well.

Veena Ashiya, Founder and CEO, Monrow Shoes revealed her company’s hero product—a footwear that could be worn in five different ways. She shared how this single product attracted eyeballs and had influencers reaching out to them for different DIY videos. On product innovation, she revealed that they as a brand backed the designs based on data science rather than relying on designers.

Building vendor rapport
An important factor for product innovation is to have a strong rapport with the vendors. Abhishek Lodha, co-founder, Inner Sense shared that though innovation is the current buzzword when it comes D2C brands, one also needs to have a tight grip on product quality and service. Investing in the product is of paramount importance and this is what would ultimately delight the customer. “To make a big brand, focus on the product and get your hands dirty with the product partner,” he said. “Make your vendor your friend. This will also ensure that the trust factor is built and you are saved from your USP being leaked in the market,” he added.

Meeting the need
Another brand being driven by innovation at its core is men’s innerwear brand Tailor & Circus. Co-founder Abhishek Elango advised budding entrepreneurs to have a strong focus on solving consumer problem. “What kind of an underwear would someone who is on a wheelchair want?” he asked. According to him, such ideas trigger innovation and hence the focus has to be on understanding the consumer’s need.

Agnes Raja George, founder and managing director, DeMoza, a brand dedicated to bottom-wear for women, made an interesting point when he shared how basically innovation within one’s hero product is what drives sales. The brand recently launched a specially designed bottomwear for women with mosquito repellent properties. This would be specially targeted for women in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Catering to the needs of Indian consumer who is looking for affordable solutions can be another key driver for innovation and this is well accentuated by the success story of Assembly luggage brand by Aditya Khanna. “Bring innovation that is homegrown and it provides solution that is half the cost of what a premium brand would have charged,” said the brand’s co-founder.

Hot sauces brand Naagin has created a fan base for itself with its range of sauces. Co-founder Arjun Rastogi launched the brand based on his personal experience while he was studying abroad. When launching the brand, he was clear that he wanted to bring out something to delight the customer and not just for the sake of selling something. He pointed out how India is home to 300 different chilli variants but still households in the country just have a red or green sauce to pep up their food.

Adding value
Moving over to how delivery of the product too can add to an innovation in brand experience, Aparna Thyagarajan, co-founder and chief product officer of women’s ethnic wear brand Shobitam spoke on how the brand has imbibed technology to do that. “We offer fast shipping and also add value in what we offer. For example, blouse stitching in just 4 to 5 days. Small things like these add to customer delight. It is important to focus on technology as the core and not just as an enabler,” she said.

Other aspects to focus on

Rastogi of Naagin highlighted the need to incorporate strong feedback from customers and pointed out how every day is a learning. “India is very much a try and buy country. Sampling is an important aspect for reach out to the consumer,” added Arjun Rastogi.

Strengthening the backend is a strong factor in adding value to the overall customer experience and product offering according to Dhiraj Agarwal, chief executive officer and co-founder – Campus Sutra. The fashion brand by Dhiraj and his team has managed to remain profitable with a zero dead stock inventory track record. “It is imperative to know what your customer segment wants. That has to be the guiding culture for a brand,” he said.

Optimizing and remaining as nimble as possible, according to Satish Singh, founder of Joker & Witch helps the brand remain profitable. Singh further spoke on how the brand has been actively creating content on Instagram, which has paid off.

To conclude, product innovation along with value add in service thus delighting the customer and a strong grip on the backend and supply chain are factors that would drive D2C brands in time to come.

The session was anchored by Anand Shankar, vice president, Sharrp Ventures and Navin Joushua, founder and director, GreenHonchos.

IMAGES India D2C Summit 2023, presented by DHL and powered by GreenHonchos, is being held on the 7th and 8th of June at The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake. This year, the annual event dedicated to promoting and supporting the growth of direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses in India, brings together more than 200 speakers, 1000 attendees and 400 brands and companies for two days of Knowledge and networking.

The event also recognizes and celebrates the achievements of outstanding D2C brands through the IMAGES India D2C Awards.

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