With digital media and content becoming integral for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, the opportunity for influencer marketing and social commerce platforms to join the D2C wave is real and present. And for content platforms, it’s a chance to monetise the loyal reader and viewer base and add to their existing revenue streams such as advertising, subscription and paid content. The likes of MensXP, The Better India, MyGlamm’s PopXO and others are rapidly tapping into the content-led social commerce wave. Banking on this trend is Delhi NCR-based content commerce platform HYPD Store, which recently raised strategic seed funding from media and entertainment platform ScoopWhoop.
The startup did not disclose the funding amount, but cofounder Ashwarya Garg told us that the HYPD is in talks with more strategic investors as well as venture capital firms for bigger rounds. With the latest fundraise, the company will be ramping up its product development, growth marketing efforts and category expansion within the content commerce space.
Started by former Innov8 and Zostel execs Ashwarya Garg and Akshay Bhatnagar last year, HYPD Store is a content-to-commerce discovery platform that is driven by influencers and content creators who partner with D2C brands to create brand stories, thereby enriching customer engagement and driving sales. It is a marketplace that combines content marketing, influencer marketing and social commerce aspects to connect D2C brands, content creators and consumers.
Brands can select the creators they want to work with, while the products are promoted by the influencers through original content. Once a customer orders through HYPD, the platform sends an update to the D2C company with the details for delivery. The final fulfilment is handled by the brand.
In three months since its beta launch, HYPD Store claims to have witnessed 20K+ app downloads, 250+ influencers and content creators, and more than 50 D2C brands, including The Man Company, PeeSafe, Fast&Up, Khadi Essentials, Flatheads among others.
With the recent ScoopWhoop partnership, HYPD is looking for deeper integration with the content commerce and media platform. HYPD’s array of D2C brands and content creators will now be shown or promoted to ScoopWhoop’s 30 Mn monthly unique visitors, which covers entertainment, pop culture, lifestyle, social issues and fashion, targetting consumers in the 16-35 years age group,
According to Similar Web, at the time of writing, ScoopWhoop has about 8 Mn monthly pageviews, and 38.4% of this comes from India, with 20% from the US. However, in terms of actual user conversion, Garg told Inc42 that HYPD is looking to touch 1 Mn downloads through this strategic collaboration in the next six months.
HYPD’s launch coincides with India witnessing a massive boom in D2C and ecommerce startups. As per Inc42 Plus analysis, India is home to more than 500 D2C brands. The D2C segment is expected to have a $100 Bn addressable markets by 2025, as per Avendus report. Industry experts believe that the ecommerce market which is growing at a CAGR of 38.6% from FY17 to FY20, with content to commerce channels expected to contribute 15% to 20% of all ecommerce sales in the next five years.
Though HYPD claims to be first-of-its-kind in the space, it does compete with a slew of social commerce platforms like Trell, SimSim, Meesho, Bulbul TV among others, besides the likes of CRED, which is also targetting D2C brands with its CRED Store vertical. HYPD’s Garg said that a large number of the population in India are only consuming content and not buying.
Further, he claimed that out of about 700 Mn internet users, only 25 Mn have the capacity to purchase online, and most of the social commerce platforms that exist today are catering to Tier 2 and Tier 3 audience, who do not have buying capacity, when compared to Tier 1 and metro cities.
Moreover, managing quality content on these platforms is a huge challenge, he claimed, as it is entirely driven by the users. HYPD, on the other hand, which is a creator-led platform, claimed that managing quality and consistency of content becomes easy as it drives user engagement and sales, said Garg.
“Our target group (18-35 years or Gen Z) and product offering are also very different from other players in space, where most of them have users from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. We, however, are not discluding them, but are looking to enable and uplift by providing necessary skills to deliver quality content.”
Is HYPD Worth The Hype?
ScoopWhoop strategic investment in HYPD comes at a time when many D2C brands are struggling to sell products and cautiously spending on digital marketing activities, mostly social media and influencer marketing to keep costs in check.
HYPD believes that marketing in these channels is cumbersome and time-consuming, and also creates friction in the shopping experience for customers, which often gets redirected to affiliate links mostly leads to scepticism and cart abandonment. Simplifying the shopping experience is a real value add for D2C brands, the cofounder said. Primarily, in the areas of creator content monetisation, brand engagement, and one-click shopping.
Besides offering brand visibility to D2C brands, the company claimed that it also shares the feedback received by the customers and content analytics to brands, alongside helping them in their content engagement journey and collaboration with the right content creators. The company claimed that in the span of three months it noticed a 28% increase in customer retention.
“Currently, we are in talks with over 500 D2C brands in the country and most of them are being onboarded via referrals,” said Garg, stating that the customer acquisition cost is very minuscule compared to what ecommerce platforms spend as it is driven by content creators.
Similarly, for content creators, the company said that it manually onboards them and gives a platform for them to post stories, images, videos and articles sharing their brand experience on the platform, and every time a customer engages with the content and makes purchases, they will earn a cut. HYPD is also planning to add a short video format in the coming months to drive the engagement, and create a content creator ecosystem by launching Creator Garage features, which acts as a launchpad for emerging content creators.
The company did not reveal the cut that these content creators or influencers make as it is still in the experimental stage. However, Garg said that HYPD earns a margin of 20-25% per each transaction. The average order value per user is anywhere between INR 1.4K to INR 2K.
In terms of revenue streams, the company currently earns a commission at the transaction level and value-added service for brands. The cofounder said that it is looking to add more monetisation channels in the coming months. Stating the roadmap ahead of the company, revealed that it will be launching its iOS app version in the next two months, followed by the Live Shopping feature for customers and content creators in April 2021. Ecommerce platforms like Bidu and Live Shopper are some of the notable players in the ‘Live Shopping’ category.
“Once you complete the fandom between consumer, content creators and D2C brands, there is an independent revenue stream that can be built on each of these relationships and individually coexist,” said Garg, stating that this is just the beginning. HYPD is still in its early days, and having pivoted its influencer marketing platform to commerce last year, the company still has a long way to go. The cofounder believes that in that regard, ScoopWhoop’s strategic seed investment will fuel user adoption in the coming months.