By Andrew Hackett
More and more brands are opting to go direct and there are lots of reasons why they should. For those who know how to address their market, the opportunity is significant. It may sound like an obvious statement however with the pace of change in today’s technology and the consumer themselves, what you think you know and what is actually desired can be very different. There are great examples of those who are already benefitting, fast-moving consumer goods are seeing serious growth in categories such as pet supplies, household goods, health and beauty, grocery items, apparel, and luxury goods.
Growing revenue is always key however the biggest win for your business will be the data that you can now start to harvest and analyse. This will help you forge the path ahead by being able to build, measure and learn; optimising for each new insight you mine from the copious amounts of data available to you today. This will be in small iterations, as you can act quickly upon your insights and monitor the results closely.
D2C is far more than simply offering products and services via digital channels, it offers you the opportunity to develop a relationship with the consumer. If you are contemplating, going direct to consumer you need understand your market and how you fit in; you need to evaluate which features are most important for your D2C brand offering by surveying the landscape. Do you already output a large amount of content? Do you offer customer and after service features today? Are these especially important? Are you able to staff these functions? These are questions you must start to answer for yourself as you map out your future.
There is no formula in going D2C, it’s fundamentally based around creating a relationship with the consumer, not just transacting. This can be a natural progression as a B2B company who wants to focus on customer relationship, but it raises the question of how to correctly address their market and how to manage the impact this transition has on their B2B business.
Personalising the Customer Experience
The entire digital journey asks businesses to understand the emotions and sentiments that drive purchasers to act and how to respond to them.
59% of online shoppers believe that it is easier to find more interesting products on personalized online retail stores, with 56% stating that they are more likely to return to a website that gives personalized product recommendations.
Successful D2C e-commerce personalization techniques include data-driven upselling/cross-selling, creating unique product bundles based on past purchases, and offers that are relevant to a customer based on their previous online behaviour. And of course, this can be done across devices as part of an omnichannel strategy. Many large D2C brands like Nike do this very effectively.
Some brands D2C offering takes personalisation literally with personalised products, Coca-Cola is a good example of this, while they operate primarily as a B2B brand they also exist as a D2C brand with personalised cans being one of their most popular offerings and their D2C website being setup to promote their brand and offer content on topics like sustainability. They understand that the two factors they want to use to drive D2C sales are a focus on content and a personalised product for their consumer. This is a smart approach to supporting their existing channels while offering something unique to that product.
Surveying the Landscape
Correctly addressing your market requires surveying the landscape and evaluating where you fit in, how best to tell your brand’s story and how to correctly connect with your average customer.
A good example of a brand which knows their audience and their niche is Breitling, they sell expensive, luxury watches, many of their customers are collectors and ‘watch people’ and so they’ve optimised around this. They focus on post purchase benefits and services, content around watch care and strap replacement, they also offer a relatively unique experience with the ability to register a blockchain-based digital certificate of ownership which provides a host of benefits. They make these services a focal point of their D2C website, they demonstrate their understanding of their customers with a website that focuses on the ‘luxury’ aspect of their offering, both in content, style, and services.
Content can be very important for a D2C company based on what they’re selling. Finding out what your customers are interested in, what problems they’re having, what questions they’re asking, and then making sure you address those when they find and explore your brand is often what can differentiate you from the crowd and generate repeated website visits, allowing you to connect with your customer. An unusual but somewhat charming example of this is Heinz, their D2C website is covered in content about sustainability, and natural grown products, alongside large numbers of recipes for all kinds of Heinz products, anyone purchasing Heinz directly is likely to return for the many product specific recipes found there.
Understanding your landscape isn’t easy and it’s easy to be led astray, some brands accidentally replicate the behaviours and practices of shady websites, something which a customer will recognise almost instantly. For example, large discounts which effect everything a company sells can seem like a great idea to drive sales, however for a first-time consumer arriving on their website, this can have the opposite effect and decrease trust in a brand as there are many websites which fake large, time limited discounts, when the discounts are permanent in order to make their product appear cheaper than it is.
Benefits of Correctly Addressing the Market
Customer data is one of the most important resources for digitally native brands. If you sell B2B then the only information you’re likely getting from the stores where you sell product is based on inventory, volume sold, volume returned, and potential future demand.
This is useful for inventory management, but you don’t really know your customers.
When you sell these same products on your own website you have the opportunity to present every one of your customers with additional products at check-out and inform which products may go well together. You also have the opportunity to test your pricing in order to gauge if you have room to charge more, or if you might actually sell more if you lowered your prices.
When you ship product of yours to a third-party distributor, or ask retailers to sell them for you, you’re giving up control of your brand. And you’re giving up the potential for you to build your own enhanced customer experience. Going D2C and correctly addressing your customers with your newfound data lets you build relationships with your customers, understand how your channels interact and create a seamless, personalised experience.
A correctly addressed customer is one which has long term value for a brand, fundamentally, good D2C brands recognise this and focus on it rather than instant sale value. However, it requires assessing your customer data to understand what they buy, how often and why. This data can then be used to target customers more effectively now, and in the future. Whether that be through content, or services offered is always based on the individual brand in question and implementing the correct strategies is crucial to success as a D2C brand.
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