Tips to Make Sure Your Direct-to-Consumer Business Comes Out on Top
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are those that sell directly to their customers, without using a third-party retailer or wholesaler. These brands are often digitally native, with a large focus on e-commerce. Many small startups have grown into hugely viral brands you’ve likely seen on subway advertisements or Instagram influencer feeds: Casper, Harry’s, Blue Apron, Barkbox, Warby Parker.
These brands have found success in the DTC world because they have been able to sell to their customers differently than everyone else. But what do they do differently? And how do newly established or newly converted DTC brands thrive with competition from big players like Amazon?
Control of the Customer Relationship
One of the most important factors of a DTC brand’s success is its ability to take or regain control of their relationship with their customers. Without a middleman shoving its face between the brand itself and the customer, the brand has a better chance of establishing the kinds of mutually beneficial relationships that can allow them to grow and thrive.
Having their own e-commerce website, the brand can solicit information from customers like emails to continue to communicate with them, provide deals, get feedback, encourage repeat purchases, and more. On social media and in their direct messages, they can build customer loyalty personally. Speaking of e-commerce…
DTC Brands Need Great E-commerce Sites
One of the biggest focuses of DTC brands is that many, often due to their smaller size and budgets, are heavily invested in digital platforms for selling products and building leads. It’s important for DTC brands to give customers enough evidence and information to be convinced they can safely buy a product without ever having physically seen or handled it. This means lots of high-quality, all-encompassing product images, descriptions, specifications, and so on.
It also means that the experience of visiting the site itself should be fun and memorable. The site should be simple and streamlined, easily navigable, and designed to match the customer’s expectations of the brand. Customer support, since there are no store representatives to greet and help customers, is also important, whether that be through easily accessible customer support phone lines, live chats, or chatbots.
Handling the Logistics, Measuring the Yield
DTC brands have to handle shipping and logistics of their products, which is one reason why many opt to cut their catalogs down to a few or even a single item. The beauty of direct-to-consumer ecommerce is that companies don’t have to maintain the same kinds of huge inventories. Still, for small companies, this can be a challenge and must be worked out from the early game. Some companies create partnerships or just build from the ground up.
DTC brands also succeed when they measure their performance using the best KPIs for their businesses. They measure purchases and repeat purchases, average order value and the lifetime value of revenue. These kinds of data points give much more insight into how their e-commerce work is going.
The other reason for DTC brands simplifying their product catalogs is that it’s what many consumers are craving in today’s saturated market. The best DTC brands—like Casper and the rest mentioned in the introduction of this post—only sell a few items. Having fewer products means building up the quality and the prestige of these products, while also focusing on the selling process itself.
On Amazon, consumers have choices. A lot of choices. Sometimes, they may search for an item using a keyword and find thousands of listings. This can be overwhelming, and while Amazon helps consumers by comparing similar items to narrow down choices from certain specifications (like price or quality factors), it’s still a lot to sort through and trust.
DTC brands avoid all of the noise by giving their visitors an end-to-end experience that is pleasant, and… well, Instagram-able. We didn’t use that last term for no reason, because…
DTC Brands Earn Virality Quickly and Cheaply
Glossier, a cosmetics DTC brand that’s grown huge through social media and the viral hunger of the internet, has a shop in Soho that had a sign outside, reading: “THE MOST INSTAGRAM-ABLE ROOM IN SOHO. COME HANG!”
This kind of marketing tactic is common among the popular DTC brands. They understand the dynamics of the internet enough to spread the word through easy ideas like this. People want to feel like they are in on something special—like they are connecting with people they love, such as celebrities. Glossier’s sign appealed to the viral animals of New York’s artsiest neighborhood, not just encouraging them to come in to buy makeup, but to come and take pictures of their brand and share them with the world. They can do this because their design value is through the roof. Therefore, easy referrals.
Casper launched into mattress stardom quickly with crazy launch events in New York City (where they are headquartered) and Los Angeles. These two cities are cultural hubs, filled with urban trendsetters that dominate cyberspace. They had rappers at their events. They used influencers like Kylie Jenner to pop up on millions of Instagram feeds. They faked it until they made it as the brand who was setting the trend for a single, one-of-a-kind mattress made for every kind of sleeper.
The other piece of DTC brands in relation to the internet is that they know how to churn out content to always have something new to talk about. Even if Casper only had one mattress (they have more products now), they became the viral resource for all things sleep-related, pushing out interesting blog content on sleep patterns and foods that help you sleep to show their customers that they were the expert on what the best sleep truly was. DTC brands solidify their success by positioning themselves as technical experts who make a few great products, but who also know how to package them in products worthy of our Instagram feeds.
Start Generating Success in DTC Today!
If you’re a startup or newly converted direct-to-consumer brand, you should look at this as an opportunity to grow and flourish more than ever before. The keys lie in establishing a great e-commerce site, gaining massive mindshare through solid design and internet prowess, and a commitment to simplicity and quality in sales and production. If you keep this in mind, you could join the ranks of Casper, Glossier, and more as a top DTC brand.
Ready to start marketing your business, but still unsure how to really get going for your DTC brand? Partner with Kraus Marketing to handle things like building a great, custom website, launching social media campaigns, and more. Contact our team today to get the conversation going.