Sujit Jain, Chairman & Managing Director, Netsurf Communications Pvt. Ltd., shares an in-depth analysis on the burgeoning rise of digitization in the direct selling industry

Technology and digital penetration have paved the way for innovation in the direct selling industry and evolved the conventional pattern of door-to-door selling into screen-to-screen selling. Netsurf, a leading direct-selling company, is witnessing dynamic growth and is optimizing digitalization to engage with audiences meaningfully, educate them effectively and enrich their lives with offerings curated to cater to their discerning needs.


  1. How is technology and digitization aiding in the penetration of the direct selling industry into tier 2 and 3 and smaller markets

To understand this, we have to understand how Direct Selling as an industry depends on Technology and Digitization for its growth. When it comes to direct selling, it aims at selling products to consumers – directly. Without intermediaries, middlemen or hindrance between seller & buyer. That means no need for e-commerce stores or retail stores. Post-COVID, the dependence of the industry on technology and digitization has increased. We have seen a transformation from door-to-door selling to Screen-to-Screen selling.

Over the last decade, India’s growth in mobile and internet penetration has been massive – currently, 80% of India’s 650 million smartphone owners are from small towns. This clearly means that there is a lot of scope for an industry like ours to transform itself and utilize tech for dynamic growth. If you would have asked me a few years back, I might have said that the most important thing about running a business is for consumers to try & buy. But today, that isn’t really the case. The popularity of platforms like Instagram, and Facebook among others has allowed disruption in the traditional channels of distribution. It changes the way people interact with one another. There is personalization without the need for personalization. People have evolved from ‘try & buy’ to ‘look & buy’. If you can engage your audience in the first 5 seconds, the job is done.

Direct selling as a business has been able to create improved relationships with Tech. Why I say this, especially for Tier-2 & 3 cities is because flooding of digitization and technological improvements in towns and cities has led to better communications process and also supports the effective presentation of products and services. So, it is not so much from the consumer’s point of view but from a business’s point of view that the shift has come. As business owners, we have larger bandwidth to reach audiences and interact with them as well.


  1. Give a brief overview of how you are using AI to grow your brands among the customers and distributors?

Artificial Intelligence is the future. So, we are in the process to integrate a lot of AI & ML in all our consumer interfaces in the coming future. But, at the moment the use of AI is restricted and not much of it is done by us for growing our brands among customers or distributors.


  1. What are the most significant digital adoption trends you have noticed across the D2C sector in India?

There are many digital adoption trends that have come into play, especially after COVID. It feels like we live in a completely new time post the pandemic. A few very significant digital trends are the simplest ones, to be honest.

First & foremost, I believe is the sudden rise in social media and influencer marketing. When it comes to Direct Selling, we weren’t dependent too much on ‘faces’, as we were on quality. The product sells because it gives value to its customers without much advertising or marketing activities. We depended more on word-of-mouth or testimonials. But with time, it has changed. The influx of social media and influencers has forced the industry professionals to dive into the game which says ‘Jo dikhta hai, wo bikta hai’. And hence, the rise in the adoption of social media and influencers can be called the future of the industry. But, this in no way means that the industry professionals are compromising on the quality. It still remains the best. And I believe, this will take the industry to the next level – where social media power will be combined with the supreme quality of D2C products. Secondly, I feel is an extension of the rise of social media power itself. This is the rise in personalized offerings. We, at Netsurf, ourselves are creating new and personalized ranges for our customers. This is happening, because we are in an era where if there is no personalized benefit to the consumer, they might not buy your product again. To maintain that retention, you have to make sure that you target your products to the slightest of needs listed by the consumers.

This brings me to my next trend – that is sustainability. Now, the more personalized you get, the more complex everything becomes. But we can’t just be a fast-sprinting cheetah, rather we have to become the ‘lambi race ka ghoda’. Therefore, sustainability is one other thing the industry is focusing on. And this is being done on many levels. In terms of products – for longer lasting effects, in terms of business to provide retention in customers like introducing subscription models or more such steps and also in terms of positioning oneself.


  1. Shed some light on how FinTech is playing a key factor in the growth of the direct selling segment in India

There is no direct influence of FinTech that I can enlist in the growth of the direct selling segment in India. The best, at the moment, is how FinTech organizations or start-ups present providers with point-of-sale financing and offer consumers the opportunity to buy goods through instant instalment loans.


  1. What has been the shift in consumer spending pattern helping the D2C market

There has been a major shift when it comes to consumer spending patterns. Post the pandemic, people learned how to do hoarding of products for emergencies and extreme situations. During the pandemic, it seemed logical, but post it, the hoarding of goods and services has become a convenient option for the consumer. They don’t want to have a shortage of any product that they like. That is a big boon for the industry, to be honest.

Secondly, the impulse buying behaviour consumers have shown. Which is an extension of the hoarding behaviour. But impulse buying allows us as a business to attract our consumers to the needs that they have. This leads to them trying the product once, and if they like it, we just find ourselves, repeat-buying customers. This is also because the purchasing power of consumers has increased manifold in India. This influx of purchasing power is because Youngsters today are more independent and the gig economy has enabled them to become financially independent.


  1. What are the vision and plans for expansion for Netsurf in the next year

There are many plans for Netsurf’s expansion. The biggest reveal is that we have 25 to 30 new products in the pipeline that we will be launching under the 5-existing brand categories. The consumers will be able to enjoy a more personalized and specially crafted range which ensures more Sehat, more Barkat and more Muskurahat.

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