First came Amazon and Flipkart, sprawling e-commerce entities with hundreds of thousands of sellers vying for space alongside those platforms’ own private label brands.
Then came smaller direct-to-customer (D2C) sites, set up by brands tired of being subject to the whims and fancies of e-commerce majors. Thanks to the likes of Full Ecommerce Catalyst
Shopify stores for e-commerce in India
these stores have multiplied rapidly.
The latest stage in this evolution of India’s e-commerce segment appears to be a hybrid of its predecessors – platforms that provide sellers and buyers with an intimate consumer-focused experience, while offering marketplace-like variety. taller. In short, a D2C online marketplace. Hundreds of startups, from start-ups like healthy snack brand True Elements to unicorns like beauty brand Mamaearth, have tapped into these markets, which are, more often than not, focused on niches and categories.
Like FirstCry, an online marketplace for new mom and baby products. The company started in 2010 as an offline retail chain with 380 stores across the country at its peak. Currently, its online store claims around 5,000 brands and 7.5 million registered users. Or Little Black Book (LBB), which started as a lifestyle recommendation blog in 2012 and became an e-commerce platform with over 4,000 brands. “These micro-channels create an experience more relevant to your product category, as opposed to a monolithic shopping experience,” says Bharat Srinivasamurthy, co-founder of BrandRat, a D2C discovery platform.
Nor are brands limited to one or two platforms. India’s D2C growth over the past five years is the result of a common scenario: finding a market-relevant product on marketplaces, driving traffic to its own websites, and then going offline. Now, however, the underlying philosophy seems to be that more channels are better, regardless of brand size.
For example, True Elements and personal care brand mCaffeine both sell on over 80 platforms. For the year ending March 2022, the two companies are posting a revenue rate of Rs 80 crore ($10 million) and Rs 350 crore ($46 million), respectively. “Every time we’ve sold on long-tail channels, we’ve seen great traction. We make sure we are everywhere so that when one of these niche channels becomes huge, we’ll be an early adopter,” says Tarun Sharma, co-founder and CEO of mCaffeine.
It’s an additional source of revenue for brands, especially if the market has reached saturation on horizontal marketplaces. A health food brand may find more takers on online pharmacy platforms such as Tata-owned 1MG, which cater to healthcare-seeking customers anyway, than on Flipkart.