By Nikhil Sethi, Partner – Business Consulting, KPMG in India
The direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model is transforming India’s consumer market. While it had emerged as a concept, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the disruptions it brought with it, accelerated the adoption of the D2C model. Businesses realised the importance of a direct engagement with customers, pushing them to move beyond traditional business models. This has given momentum to the D2C segment, encouraging more players to leverage this model, as is evident from the rise of D2C enterprises. The opportunity is so large that mainstream brands are also expanding their presence in this field. As a result, the D2C market is turning highly competitive, and customer experience (CX) is one of the best ways for brands to stand out by shoring up long-term relationships with customers and generating sustained value.
By facilitating direct contact with consumers and speed to market, the D2C model offers businesses a distinct advantage. Access to affordable internet and the presence of payment and logistics infrastructure, among others, are acting as enablers for the D2C model. Unlike traditional retail, D2C enterprises can remove distribution costs by cutting out all the intermediaries, leading to higher margins. As digital-first enterprises, they are better placed to understand consumer behaviour and personalise product offerings and marketing strategies to suit the needs of customers. D2C enterprises also have the autonomy to launch new products at a smaller scale, test the market and get feedback instead of being restricted to retailers’ preferences.
There is a significant change in customer expectations nowadays. Earlier, businesses could make customers happy by offering quality service and reasonable pricing. But, in the digital era that we live in, customers expect a lot from businesses, including connected journeys, seamless transitions across channels and experiences that are personalised to their preferences and circumstances, leading to the growing phenomenon of consumer empowerment. Thus, it is imperative for D2C enterprises to continuously adapt to emerging trends, update their CX strategy to meet customers’ changing needs and preferences and build a customer-centric culture.
To understand the influence of CX on financial metrics and qualify how it creates intrinsic and sustained value for a company, KPMG in India, in collaboration with EQUiTOR, undertook a detailed study that included a customer survey. Our study revealed that superior CX can help businesses enhance their valuation by 125 to 400 per cent. Further, unlocking the potential of CX can enable brands (across nine categories) to collect USD200 billion of value that they may have been leaving behind.