Corporations like Pepsi, Verizon, and Disney are already experimenting with their own D2C strategies and with positive results thus far.
This suggests that D2C is quickly moving past being a trend and becoming a standard business model. According to Statista, D2C sales in the U.S. alone reached $17.75 b in 2020 and will increase to $21.25 b by the end of 2021. Not bad, for a few digitally-native companies that manufacture their own goods and services.
The original D2C pioneers like Casper, Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Glossier disrupted their industries with this business model by:
- Having total control over their branding, products, and reputation.
- Getting their products to the market quickly and based on client feedback.
- Having a direct connection to their customers, and catering to them in a more personalized and transparent way.
- Cutting down on expenses by manufacturing their own products and leveraging the power of digital marketing.
But is this approach still as disruptive today? You guessed it, the answer is no.
That isn’t to say it’s time to chuck D2C out the window. It just means that corporations looking to leverage the D2C model should move beyond the existing playbook.
If you’ve been thinking about growing your business using D2C, get ready. We’re about to walk you through the 8 essential tips that will keep your D2C strategy at the cutting-edge.
Tip 1: Develop an omnichannel strategy.
Today’s customer is all about convenience and having a great customer experience. They are well informed about the products they want and expect consistency from their vendors.
The omnichannel approach delivers on that demand by creating a seamless customer experience across any device or location (e.g. phones, tablets, computers, brick-and-mortar stores, TV and radio, post, catalogs, etc.).
This approach enables customers to experience your brand fully and consistently, no matter how they shop. This means that they’ll find the same exact information about pricing, inventory, and specials online and offline.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, many D2C companies that have expanded their services to include physical locations are experiencing lower merchandise returns and more repeat business than their online-only competitors.
So if you haven’t done it yet, start exploring those new channels for growth! It will help expand your community, increase your visibility, and ensure that your customers can find your products no matter how or where they shop.
Tip 2: Develop a subscription-based model.
With more customers demanding a simple and hassle-free buying experience, a growing number of businesses have been jumping on the subscription bandwagon. Companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon have accelerated subscription growth with stellar results.
Once you’ve answered these questions you can start formulating a plan to take your subscription model off the ground.
Tip 3: Use AI chatbots.
Most successful D2C brands are built on a foundation of strong customer relationships. In most cases, this is accomplished by leveraging your direct online interactions with clients to find better ways to cater to them. As you can imagine, this is an expensive and time-consuming process.
AI chatbots are a practical way to keep your connection with customers alive and provide constant support and customer service – at a fraction of the cost.
- 30% is saved in customer service costs by chatbots
- 33% of customers have had a satisfactory experience with chatbots
- 54% of users globally have interacted with a chatbot
- 80% of routine questions can effectively be answered by chatbots with ease.
Although the technology is still developing, it is certainly worth looking into as a complementary resource. As the technology improves it will certainly become a competitive advantage for companies that are already familiar and comfortable with it.
Tip 4: Leverage your D2C community.
One of the core advantages of the D2C model lies in its profound customer relationships. It fosters customer loyalty, enables companies to learn about their customer’s preferences, and cater to them in a more personalized way.
You can think of it as a symbiotic community where members work together to co-create the products and services that ultimately unite them. In effect, D2C companies can leverage their connection with clients to:
- Sell more by creating products and services based on real customer pain points.
- Create highly effective marketing campaigns that speak to the client.
- Invite customers to create out-of-the-box content through (e.g. reviewers, influencers, guest writers, etc.).
These are all effective ways in which D2C companies can strengthen their customer relationships and partner up with their communities.
Tip 5: Simplify your customer’s choices.
In a business landscape where customers are flooded with choices, companies that offer clear and straight-forward options can be a breath of fresh air.
When making their D2C pivots, companies like Mattress firm and Verizon took the right approach in this regard:
Verizon's Visible offers one simple plan with unlimited talk, text, data and hotspots. There are no annual contacts, no hidden fees, and even taxes are already baked into the final price.
Read their Corporate Startup story
If a customer can count on your brand to provide clarity in an industry full of contradictory and hard-to-navigate information, you can bet they’ll come back in the future.
Tip 6: Voice interface is the future.
Voice shopping is currently valued at $2 b, and projections show it could reach $40 b by 2022.
According to Statista, 42% of people online used voice search in the first quarter of 2019 – and that number is quickly rising. The general consensus is that voice interface is quickly reshaping commerce and the change will be as massive as the internet was 30 years ago.
Forward-thinking corporates like Dominos, Diageo, and Nestlé have made serious moves to embrace voice technology in recent years.
In fact, a recent study by Adobe, found that 91% of brands are already investing in “voice” as a way to stay competitive. Companies that fail to adapt run a serious risk of falling behind.
Tip 7: Use a content-first strategy.
Having a content-first strategy involves thinking about your content early on in projects and planning out how to deliver it on time and on budget.
Many successful D2C companies use this approach to put out accessible and high-quality content that reaches clients across a variety of channels (e.g. Glossier, Thirdlove, Away, and Goop).
Consider these 3 key questions when creating your strategy:
- What kind of user experience do you want to create?
- What channels and platforms do you want to use?
- What kind of layouts and design will your customer base be interested in?
Use your answers as a blueprint to create your strategy.
Tip 8: Create a personalised customer experience.
In 2020, customers are expecting way more than just a personalised e-mail now and then. In fact, about 51% of consumers expect brands to anticipate their needs and make interesting suggestions (e.g. Amazon’s “customers who bought this also like”).
Here are some great examples of companies that are taking personalisation to the next level:
Spotify - Discover weekly
Spotify offers its listeners a “Discover Weekly” playlist with songs chosen based on previous listening behaviour.
Snapchat’s Bitmoji allows users to create personalised avatars of themselves and use them instead of regular emojis. There’s even a “Bitmoji Stories” function.
Vidyard sends its customers personalised videos as part of their marketing strategy. These videos are an impressive way to delight, capture, and keep their customer’s attention.
Part of your ongoing D2C strategy should include the development of new and exciting ways to engage your customer base through customised experiences.
With more people than ever shopping online and craving a deeper sense of community with their vendors, making a pivot to D2C is a smart move. You can expect to see a lot more players entering this market due to its relative ease of launch and lower overhead cost.
Following these 8 tips will help ensure that you make shifts you need to accelerate long-term growth and future-proof your business for years to come – and there’s no better time than now to start innovating!
Experimenting with your own corporate-startup is a low-risk way to test out how the D2C business model could benefit your business. Here at Bundl, we specialise in helping corporations make this type of transition.
So if you want to learn more about making the shift to D2C and how it can benefit your business, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!