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With new festive demand expectations, online shopping sites and logistics providers in India are preparing their supply chains for festive season sales. In India, e-commerce has turned out to be a primary platform that supports and facilitates lakhs of MSMEs, kiranas, artisans and sellers.

Many e-commerce companies have geared up for the festive season sale to capture their customers’ attention. The businesses that win this festive season are the ones that clearly understand the shopping trends. Beyond knowing what customers want, it is necessary for them to know what type of supply chain trends are going to take place during this festive season.

5 Supply Chain Trends for 2021’s Festive Season Sales

The primary determinant of businesses attaining their sales targets and businesses failing to do so is the way they manage their supply chain operations. The supply chain and logistics decisions contribute heavily to businesses gaining a wider customer base and breaking their sales records. Before making these decisions, they should know the supply chain trends for this 2021 festive season.

New Partnerships to Deliver Products Quickly

Many e-commerce companies are partnering with the local shops, kiranas and neighbourhood stores to facilitate faster deliveries this festival season. These partnerships help brick-and-mortar stores to deliver products to customers residing within 2-5 km radius of their shops.

With customers still fearing to get into shops this holiday season, this helps stores to improve more footfall in stores and increase their revenue streams. It also helps e-commerce and logistics companies to serve customers in densely populated areas by saving fulfillment spaces. Overall, it serves a win-win model for e-commerce, logistics and locality retail outlets.

Tip: Make sure you have the right logistics partners whether in terms of retail outlets, e-commerce or third-party logistics providers.

Rise in Omnichannel Shopping

As social distancing and zero contact deliveries are springing up, there is an expected rise in omnichannel shopping, which is also called self-service models. Omnichannel interactions are giving consumers the ownership to select products of their preference through e-commerce sites and pick them up from stores in person.

The trends like curbside delivery, Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) and Buy Online Ship to Store (BOSS) have slowly started to dominate the market. These trends are helping the retail outlets to gain strong footholds among their customers. Also, these trends facilitate a smooth, seamless, quick and economical returns and replacement process for consumers.

Tip: Leverage a unified omnichannel strategy to establish a customer-friendly purchase and returns process.

Brands will focus on improving customer experience

Nearly 53 percent of the consumers are neutral or indifferent to the brands they purchase. Six in 10 are interested in learning about new brands during the festive season, according to a  survey conducted by digital technology company The Trade Desk.

For businesses in India, the best time to capture consumer attention is through the festive season sales. The Indian market is filled with a huge number of both brand switchers and brand loyalists. Businesses work out numerous strategies to gain brand switchers and retain brand loyalists. With India having a maximum number of brand switchers, the festive season is a competitive platform to attract new customers.

In this era of same-day delivery and next-day delivery, companies that fulfill on-time delivery promises win brand switchers and retain brand loyalists. A proper logistics optimisation software with its route planning algorithms helps them reach their customers with different delivery windows. It helps fleet drivers deliver orders on-time and provide a delightful delivery experience.

Tip: Invest in a logistics optimisation software and achieve last-mile delivery SLAs during this festival season.

Rise of E-commerce Business Models

Indian markets are witnessing new e-commerce business models like thrasio-style, roll-up e-commerce and house of brands. These models are changing the dynamic of retail and e-commerce marketplaces, aggregators and platforms.

The thrasio-style model acquires fast-growing online brands from small-business owners and builds marketing, product development and supply chain capabilities. This model is a way of coordinating and consolidating third-party sellers from e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon. With third-party sellers growing on Amazon, this model is gaining momentum.

E-commerce roll-up companies are just like the thrasio-model that is an intersection of sellers, customers and brands. They acquire, operate and manage multiple e-commerce brands simultaneously. With capital, expertise and shared synergies, this model helps brands attain years’ worth of growth within months.

The house of brands model is also a rapidly emerging e-commerce business model. This model allows individual companies to focus on their best without worrying about the broader group’s growth trajectory. The primary brands get no attention in this model as every brand operates its own company with its unique elements and messaging.

Emergence of D2C Models in India

Nearly 82 percent of Indians shop online at least once a month. Nearly one in four make online purchases at least several times a week, according to the TradeDesk survey.

So far, e-commerce marketplaces have been gaining a considerable market share during festive season sales. But this festival season will witness direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands chasing the festive sales of e-commerce platforms and marketplaces. The strength of a meat-delivery D2C startup like Licious is its supply chain with a sharp tech-led focus and logistics optimisation. It is difficult for many e-commerce giants to work on a horizontal scale like a typical D2C business.

D2C brands with their polished branding have started to reach niche audiences in metro regions. E-commerce marketplaces are now also focusing on penetrating into the tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 zones. Possibly, the upcoming festive season sales may witness many D2C brands competing strongly with the mainstream e-commerce platforms.

Conclusion

With brands, retailers, and e-commerce platforms pitching up for early festival season sales, the supply chain has turned out to be a differentiator. Last-mile delivery will be the primary factor that will determine the success of retail outlets this festive season.

With a large number of brand switchers in the Indian market, building a delightful delivery experience is a must-have element. This high-level customer experience depends on consistent on-time delivery performances coupled with transparency, visibility, and flexibility. Fulfilling on-time delivery promises require investment into a tech tool like logistics optimisation software.

Author Nishith Rastogi is founder & CEO of Locus. The views expressed are personal