What Is DTC Ecommerce?
DTC ecommerce is when a company uses the internet to facilitate the process of selling its goods to the consumer. When you work directly with your consumers online, you are in a unique position to give your customers a better experience and better product.
Additionally, you save money by working with the consumer yourself. And you can decrease costs to your customers because you’re not sharing the profits with your distributors.
What Does DTC Stand For in Retail?
Shipping your product directly to your consumer isn’t a new concept in the retail market. Anyone who’s ever ordered from manufacturer websites or even a company catalog has experienced direct-to-consumer retail marketing from a DTC brand.
However, the internet has changed the face of DTC marketing and made it much more feasible for all companies. You can now market directly to your consumers. You can interact with them on social media, and you can share your brand message through influencer marketing.
The retail marketplace may never be the same, thanks to direct-to-consumer fulfillment and marketing online.
Is Ecommerce the Future?
The benefits are clear that a direct-to-consumer business model is a great option for companies making products people want and need. However, trends are also showing that many consumers also prefer buying directly from companies. Millennials especially want to work with companies they trust, and that hold their same values.
If you don’t want to fall behind the competition, you should consider adopting the D2C model. However, there is a right and wrong way to do this. And we’ll cover each below.
The Right Way to Utilize DTC Ecommerce Trends
Watching the trends can be a tricky part of doing business. When you see something start trending, it can be tricky and tempting to jump in whether it works for your business or not.
The key is to know your product, your consumer, and your position in the marketplace so you can capitalize on the right trends that make sense for your business.
Within Your Unique Business Context
If you want to succeed in the DTC market, you need to know your unique positioning within your industry. What do you sell, and how do your consumers want to interact with your company?
If you want to create successful DTC sales through a scalable revenue stream, then you must know where you stand within your industry. This includes being able to clearly articulate what your unique value proposition is and how you can fill the need within your market.
The Context of Your DTC Business’s Operational Maturity
Likewise, have you been in business for several years and want to expand with a new DTC strategy? Or are you a new start-up looking to revolutionize your industry with your new ideas and products? Your level of operational maturity will determine how you use the trends to create the right strategy for your business.
If you already sell thousands of products off the shelves of retailers every day, consider keeping this going while also adding a direct-to-consumer option. However, if you’re new and don’t have any relationships with retailers, you can take a different approach with your strategy.
The Context of Your DTC Business’s Cultural Maturity
Does everyone within your organization know your mission statement and work every day to achieve your company goals? Do your customers know what you stand for and what values your company works to achieve every day? If so, great.
But if not, now is the time to use the internet to reach your customer directly. Share with them that you only source your raw materials from sustainable sources. Or that you give your employees every Friday off and that pets are welcome anytime.
These kinds of behind-the-scenes glimpses are what is turning the retail market upside down. Like never before can companies connect directly with their consumers. And like never before are consumers looking for this information before they decide what products to purchase.
The Context of Your DTC Business’s Strategic Maturity
Again, you need to know where you stand within your industry and your organization. If you have a strategy that is working, don’t break it. Keep it going but add in a DTC component.
However, if your strategy isn’t already mature and working successfully, now is a great time to watch the trends and see how they can help you shake things up.
As you work to grow your position with the DTC market, it can be difficult to know if you’re ready to capitalize on certain trends. To do this, you need to know the right way to utilize a trend. And you need to know the eight reasons you should ignore certain trends.
Here we share with you the eight reasons you should ignore certain trends as you create your DTC ecommerce strategy.
1. You Don’t Have a DTC Ecommerce Strategy Yet
The first reason you shouldn’t jump on a new trend simply because it’s trending is that you haven’t created your DTC strategy yet. You can’t simply take your old business plan and use that to run your ecommerce line.
You must take the time to create a specific online strategy to implement the DTC business model successfully. Stop throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that it works. You must create a cohesive strategy that will reach your customers where they are and give them the amazing customer experience that will drive sales and scale your business.
What Is a DTC Ecommerce Strategy?
So what is a DTC ecommerce strategy, and how can you create one? Let’s jump right in.
First, you need to determine who your ideal customer is. And this means going beyond basic demographics. Thanks to social media platforms, you can truly personalize your message to your customers, so get to know who your target audience is.
Second, determine how you’ll reach them. There are several channels online through which you can reach your target audience. And you don’t have to be on all of them; figure out where your audience is and reach them there.
Have a mapped out sales funnel and guide your audience through that with great content. Whether you create videos, Facebook posts, blog posts, or Instagram-worthy images, you need to create great content regularly to reach your audience online.
If you’re ready to learn how to scale DTC for your business, there are few things you need to remember. Here are the four keys to creating a successful ecommerce DTC strategy.
Connects Powerfully to Overall Business Vision & Mission
The first key you need to remember as you create your strategy is to ensure that it fits with your overall vision for your business. Your D2C campaigns are separate from the rest of your business; it should mold well with everything else. So, take the time to revisit your mission statement for your company and then create a strategy that aligns with your overall business goals.
Identifies Top Strategies Across DTC Functions Such As Marketing, Branding, Advertising, UX, CX, Etc.
Your entire DTC ecommerce model should be cohesive and provide your customers with a uniform experience. Regardless of how they’re interacting with your company, they should know at a glance from your branding to your marketing that they can trust your message.
When it comes to the DTC model, a great user experience is paramount above everything else. This will ensure repeat and loyal customers who will gladly share their great reviews of your company, your products, and your brand on social media.
Brings a Sequenced Plan of Action
As mentioned above, when creating your DTC campaign, you need to have a well-mapped out sales funnel. And then create your content to ensure that your prospects all follow this sequenced plan of action.
In the DTC model, you can’t rely on your distributors to market your product for you. So you must create a uniform and reliable journey for your leads to follow from prospect to paying customer.
Identifies Investments and Return
Following the trends without first gathering data can lead to many mistakes and wasted money. You must identify where you will invest your money and know how much return on investment each campaign will garner your company. Don’t follow the trends blindly; ensure that you do your homework to determine where to invest in your DTC strategy.
2. You Haven’t Made Sense of Your DTC Ecommerce Data
It can be easy to look at big data, analytics, and metrics and make snap judgments. However, before you do that, take the time to make sense of what you’re looking at with the information. Break it down and ensure that you’re making the right decision based on the complete picture that the data paints.
3. You’re Not Yet Sure That Your Brand Matters
The DTC model allows every company to control the brand message that you build for your organization. You’re not at the mercy of the distributor and the ads they choose to run or where they place your products in their store. You can control the entire customer experience, from the product to the packaging to your marketing messages.
Today’s consumers care about the value that an ecommerce brand brings to the table beyond your product and/or service quality. Consumer brands are not without value in the purchase decision-making process. When you know what your brand stands for, you can create a brand that matters to your customer. And you can ensure a uniform brand experience for your customers regarding your company and your products. This is key to the DTC ecommerce business strategy and important for you to get right before reacting to emerging trends.
4. You’re Unsure About the Specifics of Who Your Target Customer Is
If you haven’t taken the time to map out everything about your target audience, following the trends won’t do you any good. Within the DTC market, you must give your audience a stellar user experience. And you can do this by knowing the specifics about your audience.
Demographic and Psychographic Data
Knowing your target audience is more than simple demographics. Although this is a great place to start, it shouldn’t be where you end when you’re working towards understanding your audience.
You must know everything about your ideal customer. What do they value, and what motivates them? For instance, would selling your products in bundles add value or not to your ideal customer in particular? How do you know? What are their biggest pain points, and how can your product solve them?
This information is key to creating valuable content online so that you can truly connect with your audience. And then show them how your product or service is the key to solving their problems. This personalization is what sets the DTC model apart from generic advertising in big box stores.
5. You’re Unsure About the Specifics of What Your Target Customer Needs
Again, just as you shouldn’t stop your customer analysis at simple demographic information, you need to understand exactly what your customer needs. To do this, you can send a survey to your current and former customers. This could provide invaluable insight into why your customer chose your product and what problems it solved.
As you create your marketing campaigns online for your DTC funnel, use this information to sell the benefits of your product to your audience.
6. You Haven’t Identified Your DTC Marketing Funnel From Awareness to Purchase & Acquisition
Regardless of what business model you chose, you must remember that every potential customer goes through a unique customer journey before purchasing your product. You must take the time to identify this customer journey for your audience. Then, you can create personalized content that will guide them along that journey.
The great part about the DTC business model is that you control how and when your customers interact with your brand. However, that is also the double-edged sword in that you must create a cohesive funnel to guide your prospects from awareness to final decision and purchase.
So, take the time to map out this funnel to ensure that your brand gives your customers the amazing customer experience they deserve.
7. You Don’t Yet Have a Plan for Using Customer Data to Improve the Customer Experience for Driving Customer Retention
Big data can be overwhelming. And it can be tempted to continue gathering more data for the sake of having more information. But if you don’t know what to do with that data, you will have wasted your time and efforts.
You must have a plan for how you’ll assess the information and then use that analysis to better target your customers. When you can use the data to give your customers a personalized experience, then you’ll realize better returns on your investment and a more satisfied customer, which will, in turn, lead to better customer retention and increased sales.
8. You Haven’t Formally Assessed Your DTC Competition in the Last 6 Months
It’s too easy to notice that your competition is doing something and want to jump on that tactic as well. However, if you haven’t done a full assessment, you might be investing in a tactic that doesn’t fit with your business strategy because it hasn’t made the shift with your competitive landscape.
Your formal assessment should ask these four questions:
Which competitors have entered or exited from your market?
How successful or not have your competitors been in the past six months?
What value do they appear to add for their customers?
How has this changed since the last time you assessed your own competitive differentiators?
If you haven’t had an in-depth analysis of your competition in the last six months, you could be following the wrong trends. Be sure to schedule time regularly to do a formal competitor analysis, so you know you’re following the right trends.
The Wrong Way to Utilize DTC Ecommerce Trends
Watching the trends is important in business. If you’re not paying attention, you risk being left behind the competition. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to use the information you see in the marketplace as you make your business decisions.
Here are four mistakes we see businesses make every day when it comes to jumping on trends incorrectly.
Make Changes Immediately to Try to Catch Up
Don’t jump into anything trendy without first analyzing the data. Signing up for the new ecommerce platforms or online marketplaces does not guarantee you success. In fact, launching into a new channel online such as Amazon, for instance, could be far more time-consuming and expensive than you had planned. You’re not trying to catch up with anyone else in your industry. You need to know your unique positioning and then make the right decision for your company based on the data you see.
Make Changes Outside of a Formal Plan
Once you make your business plan, don’t change it without a formal discussion and planning session. Gather your stakeholders, analyze the data, and make any necessary changes formally. Without a formal plan, you run the risk of your various teams working on different campaigns without creating a cohesive and uniform experience for your customers.
Invest Without a Technology Strategy for DTC
Again, don’t make decisions without first having a solid written plan. Don’t purchase new technology without knowing exactly how it will help you reach your goals. You must make all purchasing decisions based on your written, formal strategy.
Invest Without a Brand and Marketing Strategy for DTC
Your previous plan won’t translate well to the direct-to-consumer model. You must take the time to create your brand and marketing strategy before making any investments or changes.
You know that you shouldn’t invest without the right information. But who has the time to gather the information needed and then analyze it to make the best decision possible? To do that, you need to work with experts who know what data is imperative to creating the best strategy possible.
And that is what we do here at 2 Visions. Our customers have been able to scale their efforts and grow their DTC capabilities thanks to our expert help. You know that you want to grow your DTC ecommerce revenue stream, but you’re concerned about making the same mistakes of countless other executives when reacting to trends.
Don’t make those same mistakes. Make the investment to work with an expert so you can have confidence in your DTC strategy. And so you can have confidence in your teams to implement the right tactics based on the growing trends.