With internet and smartphone penetration growing in the e-commerce market, both new and traditional brands have jumped on the direct-to-consumer (D2C) bandwagon. Industry trends have consistently indicated that over the last few years consumer preference is witnessing a shift towards shopping from brand websites against marketplaces. Better pricing, discounts, authentic products and access to the brands latest collections are some of the biggest push factors for consumers.
On the other hand, brands are also seen increasing their focus on selling via their own websites due to advantages like being able to manage inventory, returns, etc more seamlessly and interact closely with customers for feedback.
The importance of seamless post-purchase services for D2C brands
While taking the D2C route comes with its advantages, it also means catering to high customer expectations. An area where customer expectations have skyrocketed with the evolution of the e-commerce industry is the demand for a fast and reliable delivery and regular updates about the shipment at every leg of the journey. Customers do not want to be in a position where they are expected to reach out to the brand’s customer service to get shipment updates or resolve a shipping issue. They want the brand to be proactive. Hence, getting the post-purchase equation right has become critical for a brand’s success, especially for young D2C brands which are trying to establish themselves in the market.
Although multiple tech and logistics players have forayed into this market to cater to the demand, Shipway has created a niche for itself. Started by Gaurav Gupta and Vikas Garg in 2015, Shipway has emerged as a leading solution provider of post-purchase automation. It provides end-to-end solutions for e-commerce brands and helps them to manage their business on multiple channels through advanced automation. Shipway has integrations with almost all leading carrier partners like Blue Dart Express, Delhivery, Shadowfax, Ecom Express and also popular logistics aggregators like Shiprocket, Shyplite, Blowhorn and Pickrr. This means no matter which carrier partner or aggregator a business is leveraging, it will still be able to use Shipway and make its post-purchase services seamless. Shipway’s platform features coupled with its integration with logistics ecosystem players helps D2C brands adopt a proactive approach to their customer service.
“With the help of self-service portals for tasks like looking up an order, tracking a shipment, placing a returns request, instant refunds and easy exchanges, we are a pioneer in helping brands deliver exceptional post-purchase services. Once brands onboard the Shipway platform, they are able to witness a 50 percent reduction in customer support costs,” says Gaurav, Co-founder of Shipway.
Enabling D2C brands deliver a premium post-purchase experience
Unlike other players in the market, Shipway tailored its product to meet the needs of D2C brands right from its early days. “Features like friction-less onboarding, the ability to go live with Shipway in a few minutes and one click integrations with major sales channels like Shopify, Woocommerce or even marketplaces like Magento were designed keeping in mind the primary needs of growing D2C brands who are getting onto the digital bandwagon,” shares Gaurav.
While these features continue to woo D2C brands, today Shipway has broadened its scope of offerings. “We only started with offering a seamless post-shipping experience and have now grown to complete post-purchase automation partners,” shares Gaurav. Today, in addition to keeping the customers updated about the shipment, it also helps brands in making their order fulfillment, fraud detection, non-delivery returns (NDR) and return management tasks efficient and effective. For instance, Shipway enables D2C brands to offer instant refunds, smart exchanges, automatically schedule reverse pickups and a self-service portal for returns and exchange. It helps brands to automate NDR follow ups and re-attempt shipments by courier agents, which helps in reducing RTO (return to origin) shipping charges and thereby the overall logistics costs. In addition, the branded tracking pages and proactive delivery alerts sent to customers further help to reduce RTOs and customer support queries.
“Given that major e-commerce players have set the bar high for the post-shipping experience, customers expect the same experience when shopping from D2C brands. In other words, D2C brands are expected to at least match the bar set by the likes of Amazon, if not beat them,” explains Gaurav. It is here that Shipway comes into play. Its wide spectrum of features enables D2C brands to provide customers a shopping experience that’s quite similar to what they experience while shopping at bigger platforms like Amazon. The strategy helps the brands reduce their customer support costs significantly. In addition, like its features, Shipway’s pricing structure has also been designed keeping D2C brands in mind.
For a brand like Heads Up For Tails, an online pet store, Shipway was instrumental in monitoring and tracking its returns in the easiest possible way and reducing its returns-related customer service traffic by 30 percent. The automated processing and approval of steps at various stages of returns also completely cut down the need for manual creation of requests. The case is no different for Phool Co, a bio-material startup that converts floral waste into charcoal-free luxury incense. The Shipway tracking page helped it to reduce the influx of “Where Is My Order?” or WISMO calls, as it is known in the business lingo, and thereby allocate its resources where it mattered the most and build stronger customer relationships.
4x growth in 2020
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about an acceleration of e-commerce adoption in the country. With customers opting for online shipping, brands were left with no choice but to jump on the digital bandwagon. The underlying need for a seamless customer experience saw brands realising the need to make customer experience seamless right from the get go. With it, a platform like Shipway became all the more relevant for D2C brands.
Not surprisingly, the bootstrapped startup grew 4x in 2020. Today, Shipway processes orders worth 400cr every month and the monthly run rate stands at approximately $100,000 currently. The annual recurring revenue (ARR) of Shipway is approximately $1.5 million today.
“Brands growing in D2C segments are focused not only on innovative products and finding the right voice for their brand, but also on customer experience and their feedback. That’s where Shipway fits,” says Vikas, Co-founder, Shipway.
Shipway has so far indirected served over 120 million unique customers on its platform and works with over 10,000 active D2C brands, including Peesafe, Marks & Spencer, Bare Anatomy,Moglix, Ugaoo, Cycle Agarbatti,Phool, among others.
Global expansion plans
The e-commerce market in India is expected to reach the $100-billion mark over the next five years. “Nearly 10-12 percent of the revenue of an e-commerce business is spent on e-commerce enablers,” Vikas points out to illustrate the growth potential for Shipway. To further tap into the opportunity, the startup is working to build Shipway as a one-stop solution for complex back-office operations for e-commerce companies. Here, he points out that logistics will be an area that the company will intensify its focus.
While India and Middle East Asia will continue to be a primary focus for Shipway, it is also aiming to explore newer markets across geographies.
“The expansion will be driven by partnerships with ecosystem players like logistics companies. Being a tech platform brings in the advantage to be able to forge these new partnerships remotely, even if it is an overseas partnership,” says Vikas. “2021 is the year when Shipway plans to make its overseas debut bigger and stronger,” says Vikas signing off.