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business & marketing

Launching a successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce business

Chris Powers
July 2nd, 2020
5 MINUTE READ

girl sitting on floor packing boxes working on a laptop

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) revolution is here. Bolstered by the explosion of social media as a legitimate eCommerce gateway, companies are embracing a shift from traditional retail practices to a more customer-focused shopping experience. Old-school retail shopping is clunky and time-consuming, and leaves little room for brands to manage how customers engage with and understand their product offerings. By bypassing resellers, brands are using digital channels to initiate authentic relationships with customers and then nurturing these relationships through the entire sales cycle.

Numerous brands have taken the DTC route from the start—and seen significant sales as a result. Trendy luggage company Away generated over $12 million in sales in its first year alone. Everlane created a $40 million business by selling high-quality, ethically sourced clothing directly to consumers. Other success stories like Warby Parker, Carl Friedrik, and Hims have proven the viability of the DTC approach.

man packing boxes working on a laptop and using a mobile phone

Once the territory of trendy fashion startups and boutique cosmetics providers, the DTC model is being employed by more and more companies looking to provide improved customer experiences through digital channels. DTC brands now exist in many different verticals, like telehealth, home furnishings, and even automotive sales. This growth is making some legacy brands sweat—and look for ways to mimic the customer experiences touted by DTC brands. A major shift is afoot, and how customers buy products will never be the same again.

A customer-focused approach to commerce

Selling direct isn’t just a way for brands to avoid all the headaches of dealing with traditional retailers and resellers. Rather, it’s an approach that allows for continuous improvement in marketing, design, and product development. Using customer data gathered through digital channels, DTC brands can find opportunities to improve products and restructure their cross-channel marketing strategy to attract new customers. DTC brands thrive by creating a unique customer experience, then replicating that experience across multiple different touchpoints. Through effective and engaging content, DTC brands can leverage these touchpoints to turn normal, everyday customers into evangelists.

Brands considering entering the DTC space should be aware that the approach takes a lot of work. Launching a successful product, a superior customer experience, and an inventive marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time and energy to fine-tune these elements to ensure your business is successful. Prior to launching a truly DTC business, there are important strategies and tactics to consider as you assemble your approach.

Craft a compelling brand story

One of the benefits of DTC selling is the ability to manage how your brand story is conveyed to customers at every stage of the buying journey. When companies sell traditional retailers, they forfeit the opportunity to establish a true bond with customers. Articulating a concise and unique brand story on the front end will help your brand convey to customers your unique value proposition across multiple channels. Think strategically about what makes your brand one of a kind. Are your products handmade with materials of the highest quality? Are you setting out to disrupt an industry? Do you support philanthropic efforts with each sale? Outline what separates your brand from a sea of competitors. Devise a brand story and create guidelines for telling that story across marketing channels and sales touchpoints.

woman packing boxes on a desk using a tape roller

Use personalization to your advantage

It’s essential to consider ways to distinguish your products—and your customer experience—from others in the market. After all, if customers don’t see added value in your product or buying experience over competitors, what’s to stop them from purchasing a similar product from a traditional retailer or—gasp—Amazon. One way to separate your brand is through personalization of the customer engagement and, ultimately, buying experience. Consider ways to tailor customer shopping experiences on browsing history and past purchases. Utilize digital marketing channels to put personalized content in front of your customers across multiple channels and touchpoints. Engage directly with customers via social media, and then use social data to create personalized content, like a timely email blast or a smart direct mail piece. The key is to convey to your customers that you understand their unique wants and needs and that your product (or products) can directly cater to them.

Launch a compelling eCommerce site

A key component of any retail business is its online eCommerce presence. But for DTC brands, a solid eCommerce site is fundamental to success. A well-organized, attractive digital storefront is the foundation for a truly impactful customer experience. You have complete control over your site—so it becomes a valuable tool for telling your brand story and fostering a unique customer experience. Using SEO, design, and marketing to your advantage, you can create an elegant shopping experience that reinforces all the things that make your brand unique. Plus, in your brand’s online store, customers aren’t seeing competing products as on a traditional website.

Another key facet of maintaining a compelling eCommerce site is the ability to build long-lasting relationships with customers. Successfully integrating your site with your social media presence is a big part of this. Even if customers don’t purchase a product immediately, a well-designed eCommerce site will encourage them to come back, as well as share it with friends and family. Hey, maybe they will even become a brand evangelist someday.

A compelling eCommerce web presence, can help your DTC brand establish meaningful relationships with costumes (as well as potential customers), collect data on customer behavior and preferences, and lay the foundation for s mutual relationship of trust and loyalty.

woman smiling while signing a package with delivery man

Engage customers with cutting-edge tech

DTC brands can harness the power of transformative technologies to increase brand awareness, create long-term relationships with customers, and, ultimately, drive sales. Codal has extensive experience helping companies tell unique brand stories, grow the business and scale for the future of eCommerce. If you’re considering launching a DTC brand, Codal can help you launch a successful eCommerce site, connect with customers, and dominate the space.

Interested in learning more about Codal’s eCommerce capabilities for DTC brands? Talk to us today.

Chris Powers
AUTHOR

Chris Powers

Chris is a Content Marketing Specialist at Codal. With a background in journalism and marketing, Chris has written about a variety of tech topics, including open source, fintech, and cybersecurity. Chris loves taking on new challenges with just a pen, paper, and his brain

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