How Hindalco’s Eternia played the D2C e-commerce game right
Today, a new generation of disruptive brands are shaking up retail: direct-to-consumer e-commerce companies that build, market, sell and ship their products themselves. But it’s not just new businesses that are pivoting to this approach. Even traditional brands are reinventing themselves and opening new streams of revenue. A successful example of this transition is Hindalco Industries Limited, the flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group. As the world’s largest aluminium rolling company and among the top-5 aluminium majors, Hindalco diversified into D2C with its Eternia brand, bringing aluminium windows directly to consumers.
Adobe Summit 2021 saw some of the biggest names take the virtual stage to share their business resilience stories and set the pace for what trends will emerge next in this digital-first world.
The session, titled ‘Direct to Consumer E-commerce: How to Get It Right’, saw Damon Scarr, Senior Sales Director, Enterprise Commerce, APAC, Adobe in discussion with Priten Bhadrakumar Bangdiwala, Senior Vice President - Head - Digital Platforms, Aditya Birla Group, and Chandan Agrawal, CEO & President, Eternia, a venture of Hindalco Industries Limited, about how business and IT partnered together to make this pivot to D2C.
Speaking about where Eternia fits in the conglomerate, Chandan Agrawal said, “We are not more than a 100-year old venture, started by earlier generation of our current Chairman, Kumarmanglam Birla, that was much before the Independence of our country. Over the years, we started our textile business and many traditional businesses. Today, we are a $50 billion global conglomerate spread across aluminium, cement, apparel, telecom, financial services and other verticals. Over the years we have been fortunate enough with most of our businesses being the largest in their sectors. Hindalco is the flagship metals business of Aditya Birla Group, and Eternia is one of the businesses within Hindalco.”
Adobe’s recent digital report states that the business and the technology leaders need to work together. Elaborating on this, Priten Bhadrakumar Bangdiwala observed, “The moment you say IT, you make two separate teams, whereas the tradition is that business comes in first and hands it over to IT. So, our first few works, we made SOPs on how we will behave, how our consumers will experience, and that is the basic thing. If you bring in IT at a later stage and it’s a handoff, then the IT will hand it back to the business. So, that is something that we see as best practice – never get your IT team towards end or mid-way. Get the team in the beginning, let them be a part of design, the customer journey, and let them bring in part of the emotion. A lot of things that Chandan and I discuss revolve around how to innovate the business. Then we go back and think what can digital do for that innovation.”
Agrawal added here, “To connect a broader concept to your concept, without being generalist, is where friendship gets developed and sometimes I guess it is missed by the specialists. I think the next thing I would say is you co-create so that we work together. I guess it is just a culture that we have created.”
Eternia is probably one of the most innovative brands that was launched during the pandemic last year. Speaking about the brand’s approach to D2C and how Adobe commerce helped Eternia go-to-market, Agrawal said, “The product that we are talking about at this stage of our evolution is a window and it’s a unique product, which by definition has a very low engagement with its consumers. The real business challenge is to bring a new window to the customer, but that is not sufficient, you’ve got to get it to the context of the consumer – which is the interiors and the home environment of the customer. That is a massive challenge, if you look at it from a business point of view.”
Continuing further, Agrawal said that the second challenge is how to measure performance. “When you think of a window, how do you know which window is better? It takes technology to measure the performance of a window. This apart, you need to decide on how to communicate that to your customer in a simple way.”
Bangdiwala added here, “We have a specialised business. Otherwise you have to be on site to bring in specialised software and that’s where Adobe Commerce comes in.”
Watch the entire conversation Here.