A B2B brand’s D2C move, forced by the pandemic

One of the more interesting side-effects of the pandemic and the lockdown that ensued is the change forced upon predominantly B2B brands scampering to look at direct-to-consumer models.

A brand that we (I/our household) would have never heard of or encountered or purchased in shops, has now become a staple buy!

We use coconut often in our food – for chutneys, adding in sambhar and curry etc. We love it. What we don’t, is the effort needed to grate coconuts. Most online stores (FTH, Big Basket etc.) in Bengaluru have middling supply of grated coconut.

Even iD’s new grated coconut product is rarely available.

In came Shrikalpa! Shri-who? We had no clue about this brand, and have not seen it in any store either.

We saw a WhatsApp message on our apartment group and ordered 2 KGs (at Rs.200 per KG). It was so very good! Break and thaw what you need, and keep the rest in freezer.

The owner/founder delivers it himself for now.

While speaking with him during one of the delivery rounds, he said that they had steady buyers in the airline and large hotels, so they didn’t even bother with a proper website, fancy packaging (see iD’s pack, in contrast!) or deep delivery network because of it.

Now, that has completely dried up and they are forced to seek a D2C model (else the product is wasted) which demands customer-facing messages and network!

Such impromptu delivery networks or unpredictable/non-existent store-fronts are a big no-no in a B2C/D2C model, but it is understandable considering this brand is literally forced by an extraordinary event to change their business model. It’s a drastic change, and a big move away from their comfortable model to selling to a few larger buyers predictably.

The owner/brand do look for economies while delivering or taking the order. They prioritize larger apartments and more orders per apartment to make the delivery worth the effort. This is unlike the Big Baskets of the world who can deliver smaller orders too, efficiently.

As for marketing, they are even more constrained. It’s mostly the buyers who share it on their apartment WhatsApp Groups and that sustains the sales for now, but this is clearly not a sustainable model.

I also figure that they are perhaps hoping for normalcy to return and their older bulk buyers some back, but that doesn’t seem imminent going by the state of affairs. There is a fairly long-lasting change in the air (literally) and addressing that change early enough would help many such brands make the move efficiently and seamlessly.

It is bound to be painful in the short run, but there is also no other way.



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