Building Beyond D2C - 0 to 1 💯

in Jan 16, 2023


Wishing you a Happy Lohri from this side of the country. Some of you celebrate the same harvest festival in the name of Sankranti and Pongal. Hoping for a great harvest season for all of ours sake and honestly for us in Delhi we are praying that the sun-filled days please do get longer 🙂

It has been a while since I have written through this medium. I am glad that with the new year we got back to doing this religiously. It is easy to get lost and blame the busy-ness on getting out of good habits but that is not how we operate here.

Today I want to capture everything we have learned since September 2021 about building channel partners. For any digital-first brand, the online channels beyond the website play a strong role in building reach and access and it has been the same for us.

We are available at places like Amazon, Nykaa, Blinkit, Zepto, Flipkart and quite a few more. We of course started with one and then different channels require a different approach to build on. Some are self starters and some require quite a bit of chasing and relationship building. I am going to try to list down some general guidelines that I feel we have learned through the process and which should continue to guide us to do well in the future.

1. Persistence - Now this is the holy grail for everything but when it comes to activating channels which cannot be started overnight this is your best friend. The best example we have is of a channel partner we chased for almost 12 months before they decided to give us a chance. During these 12 months we did everything - regular follow ups, introductions through the right people, reaching out to 4-5 different people in the target organisation to the extent that we were almost giving up on it. But the funny part is that when it actually happened it was the partner reaching out and getting everything closed within a week. Says so much about how persistence can make your own luck. 

2. Channel Product Fit - We have been bitten by this twice now and boy how true this is. What will sell on a 2-3 day delivery platform might make no sense on a quick commerce platform. What might be amazing selling at a pharmacy might just lay in dust at a Modern Trade store. Now that we are smarter and can see this, using this to one’s advantage and fine tuning the supply chain accordingly works like magic to onboard new customers to your brand who then will go on to buy other products from the brand. (Perfora - you can’t just have 1), sorry Lays for borrowing that one ;) 

3. Personal Connect - I cannot emphasise enough on this and this is a big one that I see most people missing on. Meeting your respective POCs in person, hanging out over a beverage/meal and not talking about work per se, literally discussing things outside of work are the important things while building out a channel. You see a person has various priorities which are mostly decided by the size of a business. For a small brand to make it to the person’s priority list they need to be personally invested in the brand’s story, journey and mission. It is as the old adage goes - “It is not the product that sells but the person first”. You need to be liked first to then go ahead and make your case and this will always play in your favour in the other person's subconscious mind. 

4. Data Orientation - As obvious as this one is, I was personally lagging here. A fellow founder advised me on this and the next meeting I realised what I was missing. When you enter a review with precise data around sales, SKUs, M-O-M growth and the way ahead the other person across the table starts feeling obligated to add value. This is also when productive conversations take place around addressing gaps and finding ways to leapfrog growth. As a principle now internally we document all minutes and only validate insights backed with the right dataset. 

5. 200% on Operations and SLA - This one is quid pro quo. If you want a channel to work you need to start thinking on having the best service levels. You need to ensure that you are fulfilling orders in the least time possible, always stocking inventory at the right warehouses, and literally having the fastest turnaround time for the smallest of things that the channel might need. Do this strongly for a quarter and you will start seeing strong incremental results 

All of these have to be backed with a great product that has found a product-market fit. Without that any and most efforts are futile. 

We are not even 1% of where we want to be but this was a good time to reflect back and pen down what has worked so far for us. We will continue to double down on these and uncover more learnings in the future. 

I hope this helps some of you who are building a business or thinking about starting one in the future. Please don’t hesitate to write back to me with any questions you may have. 

Thank you for being our amazing community and cheerleaders and taking interest in our journey of Ups and Downs. We aspire to delight you and share even more this year. 

Wishing you all the best year ahead. 

Until next time,