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Alexandra Gladchenko
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D2C D2C eCommerce D2C marketing eCommerce

D2C Strategy For eCommerce: Best Practices Of Direct-To-Consumer Marketing

11 min read
Published: May 29, 2020
Updated: September 27, 2023

D2C strategy (direct-to-consumers) is now as important for eCommerce players as ever. Covid-19 accelerated the rise of direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses and companies that previously haven’t even thought of going online.

The internet and social media opened new ways to sell and work on brand awareness, which gave direct-to-consumer retail a massive kickstart. In this article, we will dig into the details of direct-to-consumer sales and marketing, learn the most effective D2C strategy tactics and analyze the examples of direct-to-marketing used by eCommerce A-players. Let’s start with the definition of D2C strategy.

What Is D2C Strategy?

D2C (direct-to-consumer) is an eCommerce strategy that implies that the brand sells the product directly to the customer, without the help of traders or middlemen. According to the D2C strategy, manufacturers fully control the processes of production, distribution, and marketing of their goods. 

The term DTC or D2C (direct to consumer) first made its appearance among beauty brands. Then the smart home brands and direct-to-consumer clothing brands absorbed the trend.

What Is D2C Marketing?

Direct-to-consumer marketing model means that businesses enter the market directly, without the help of intermediaries. Basically, the retailer is being cut out of the process, and manufacturers promote and sell products directly to the buyers. It helps to build stronger relationships with customers and grow brand loyalty.

How To Build A D2C Strategy?

Building a D2C business is a time-consuming process that requires reviewing your relationships with customers and includes many evaluation processes. Here are some of the basic steps of creating a D2C business.

1. Reevaluate your customer relationships

Your direct to consumer strategy should involve building strong and transparent relationships with your clients, defining their goals and needs, and mapping their customer journey.

2. Build your performance marketing plan

Your D2C strategy should be aligned with your website. You’ll have to think through ideas of how to grow customer lifetime value, decrease buyers’ acquisition costs, and use the best working marketing strategies of D2C brands.

3. Think about customer service integration

The customer support team is the core of a successful D2C business, as they will work directly with your clients and ensure customer satisfaction. You’ll have to plan the special training for this team, supply them with professional marketing tools and facilitate their work, so they could guarantee your customers a personalized customer experience and support.

4. Notify stakeholders and organize your teams

The traditional top-down hierarchy does not work for D2C companies. You will have to organize cross-functional teams and ensure their work and communication are effective. Your team members should get organized around your set of direct-to-consumer goals.

5. Analyse your customer experience and find business partners

You’ll need team members who will be working on website operations and evaluating the customer experience. It’s also crucial to choose the right digital partners who can take care of your website, customer service, and, especially, product information management, as you will be facing the challenges of controlling massive amounts of data.

6. Improve your product information management

Any eCommerce business requires managing product data, and, when the amounts of information become critical and difficult to handle manually, it might create a lot of human errors, as well as reduce team productivity.

Gepard PIM solution can help you with this task and take care of your data-related processes while you can focus on more creative tasks and D2C strategies

Top D2C Strategy Tactics from Market A-players 

Comfortable customer journey, smooth communication with clients, personalized customer experience, and sustainable brand messaging are at the core of leading D2C eCommerce players.

For example, the Glossier beauty brand started as a blog, and offers a seamless customer journey, when it’s easy to get from a social media post to the website checkout button. The brand stakeholders explain that it’s crucial to set up a strong connection between different marketing and sales touchpoints. Blog posts, vlogs, YouTube channels, Instagram, product pages, and website content should be interconnected to bring more purchases and grow brand awareness.

Dollar Shave Club, a popular D2C grooming brand, focused on the combination of D2C business model with the subscription revenue marketing model. It helped them to develop one of the top subscription businesses. The brand also pays attention to customer feedback, which is an important tactic to analyze customers’ needs and learn how to grow clients’ satisfaction.

Top 5 D2C Brands Successful Cases

Let’s analyze successful direct to consumer cases of some of the leading brands. We will go through the brands’ D2C strategy examples across different industries. We prepared practical examples of successful strategies used by popular brands in the categories of fashion, healthcare, technology, beauty, and food industries. Let’s review them in detail.

1. Direct-to-Consumer Marketing in Fashion

Warby Parker, an eyewear D2C brand and one of the pioneers in the D2C model knows how challenging it is to make people buy eyeglasses without trying on a number of choices before finding the right one. The company found its answer to the issue. On their website they are making a great deal for customers: try 5 frames at home for free.

Warby Parker D2C Business Strategy

Warby came up with a solution for customers who need to choose the right contact lenses: a mobile app, which tests your vision, and then the in-house doctor will review the results.

They are keeping it maximum close to the buyers with their tone of voice through eCommerce websites, mobile apps, and social media platforms. They are quirky and bold, and that’s what attracts buyers.

The company also appeals to Gen Z and Millenials by being socially conscious. For every purchased pair of glasses, they would donate one pair to a person in need.

2. D2C Healthcare Market Case

Kannaway was the first company to begin research on the potential benefits of the cannabis Sativa plant. The company sells CBD-based products as health supplements mainly.

In this specific field, it is especially important to set a transparent direct-to-consumer communication. There is still research going on, and people are not yet ready to fully accept the product — simply because of the lack of knowledge or being misinformed.

The company provides extensive product information with product image, product description, class of a healthcare product, storage, drug interaction, food and herb interactions, mechanism of action, common brand names, how it is supplied, ingredients and supplements facts, dose recommendations with dosing considerations and much more.

By giving direct situations where people can benefit from the product, the company manages to make its D2C marketing personalized and humane and lets people visualize the results.

Kannaway Healthcare D2C Business Strategy

Kannaway’s website also provides a great customer journey by allowing each shopper to make their own accessibility adjustments, like font size, content scaling, color, mute sounds, hidden images, and so on, which is a big plus for the company’s UX.

3. Direct-to-Consumer Companies in Technology Industry

Pioneers in D2C, Dyson Ltd. is a tech company, specializing mainly in vacuum cleaners, heaters, bladeless fans, hand dryers, etc. In 1993, a Japanese company licensed Dyson’s vacuum cleaner design and used it to build the G-force. It was a peculiar product for those years: a vacuum cleaner that could turn into a table. Pretty handy, as it could save space in small Japanese houses.

Thanks to TV advertising campaigns, Dyson made its appearance on the UK market as a direct-to-consumer company. The success of the product itself was unique. They had the first vacuum cleaner that didn’t require regular purchases of replacement bags. In 2014, Dyson launched a new invention: a “360-eye” robotic vacuum cleaner. Quite a tech: it features 360 degrees mapping and scanning for navigation, and can be controlled through the user interface through an Android or iOS app.

Dyson D2C Business Marketing

Now, it is a successful DTC company, selling both from its website and on Amazon. Being a direct-to-consumer company, they also benefited from selling both on Amazon and their website. But the situation turned upside down. “You can’t tell the brand story the way you want … regardless of what brand you own,” said Hellberg, a regional creative director for Dyson in Europe, about their experience on Amazon. So this year 2020 the brand actually started pulling itself out of the marketplace. Dyson realized that they no longer want to depend on the infrastructure provided by big marketplaces like Amazon.

4. Direct-to-Consumer Brands in Beauty Retail

Glossier cosmetics company. Their slogan is: “Glossier is a people-powered beauty ecosystem”. Its founder Emily Weiss says that around 90% of its customers come to them through word of mouth on social media.

How does the Glossier brand interact with its customers/followers? First, its Instagram account doesn’t even look as if they are to sell you something. They offer makeup routine advice, video tips on skincare, and general well-being.

Bet you’ve realized already, that they are using influencer marketing quite intensely. And it’s just a casual conversation between girlfriends or the personal cosmetologist you trust. Here also goes gift ideas, horoscopes — everything that works for the target audience.

Glossier Beauty Brand D2C Business Strategy

The company also isn’t afraid to reveal some touching info from the inside: posting a picture of their communications manager and her mom posted on Mother’s day, as example. Sharing family values makes the brand tone of voice welcoming and something that feels close.

5. Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of  Food Brands

This month, May 2020, PepsiCo launched direct-to-consumer websites for its brands. PantryShop.com and Snacks.com appeared on the radars of the DTC world to let shoppers order some of the company’s brands online and have them shipped directly to their homes. And again, it’s not just selling snacks: they are giving out a mission, and aiming to take care of people who found themselves locked down at homes.

Pantry Shop Pepsico D2C Business StrategyPepsiCo arranged some of its products in kits, which come in standard ($29.95) and family pack volumes ($49.95), which were created based on affinity research aimed to meet the needs of Americans staying at home during the lockdown. The company made a free-of-charge delivery as well, while they are not compromising on speed (packs are promised to come within 2 business days).

Now PepsiCo’s devoted customers, who didn’t find its product in stores or supermarkets someday, would easily go to their D2C website and get all stuff delivered right to their doorstep. If you fail at setting the right infrastructure and logistics for direct selling, you risk blowing your brand’s equity.

Direct-to-consumer companies should make an emphasis on education, transparency, the quality of product data, and easy access to information. And a story, the “we feel you” and “we are here to make life easier for you” mode and real value. 

Direct to Consumer Marketing Tips

1. Let them subscribe

Subscription base D2C will guarantee customers stay with a brand for a specific period of time. This, if a product is good though, eventually develops a habit and a sense of “it’s already a part of my routine and it would be harder to compromise on the comfort of having the product/service in my life”.

2. Create your own story

What differentiates DTC eCommerce from a traditional one? Direct to consumer brands have their own story, and it usually tickles some global issue (reducing plastic usage, cutting food waste, fighting for saving Amazon forests by donating part of the revenue to charity organizations, etc.) or just an everyday problem (producing cosmetics that fit all types and colors of skin, or house supplies that frees some time for desperate housewives and makes their routine a bit easier).

Point out this message (a mission statement and a brand voice) and let it be your guiding Northern star through all D2C marketing activities.

3. Develop a mobile app

Integrating mobile apps into your direct to consumer business model allows for retrieving first-hand valuable data. That could be customers’ insights on a product, their response to discounts and special offers, etc. It could be any kind of application, that would make the customer journey easier and more fun: virtual try-on, mobile app for checking eyesight, or even being listed in an external application. Besides, you’ll be able to save searches, orders, or any other history to tailor personalized service and get your customer’s attention with push notifications from anywhere.

Let’s take a look at a practical case of Futurum, an online store for equipment, apparel, and nutrition for cyclists and mountain bikers. In 2019 the number of mobile visitors at the Futurumshop.nl store increased to 60%. The company focused on providing mobile shoppers with excellent experience and personalization to increase the number of loyal customers. Read more on how Bintime helped Futurumshop develop a mobile app in a case study.

4. Offer stress-free and no-fee returns

15% percent of shoppers (global average) claim if they have a negative experience with the returns process, they wouldn’t shop with that retailer again. Omnichannel eCommerce company Radial found that 51% of US digital buyers said they avoid purchasing goods from online retailers that do not offer free returns.
Сonsider simplifying the process of online returns to see a customer again. Return deliveries are quite an issue. As a seller, you’ll inevitably face it. But retailers and brands can minimize the numbers of returns: read our E-book on How to Reduce Returns in eCommerce.

5. Invest in the product information

Since all middlemen and marketplaces, which helped deliver to customers product information (Amazon or eBay, for example, automatically uploads all product information on a product if it has it already in its catalog), it is now the manufacturer’s responsibility to organize product information efficiently on a DTC eCommerce website. Learn how to create selling images for your eCommerce website and how to write product descriptions. Tip: You can also place the pictures of your products on free-stock pictures websites (Unsplash, Pixabay) which is a working way to go viral.

6. Make use of famous influencers

Social proof couldn’t be underestimated: people do listen to their icons. But even if you don’t have enough budget for celebs, that’s no problem. You can start with the micro-influencers in your niche.

7. Start blogging

Glossier Inc. started with a basic beauty routine tips blog by a 29 y.o. New Yorker, who later found a multimillion-dollar direct to consumer company. What’s the trick behind it? She has been genuinely putting up advice for those who needed it and eventually formed the whole buying audience, or kind of a community, which proves that blogging really works for D2C.

8. Use SEO and direct to consumer advertising

Outline a great SEO strategy, create separate landing pages for your products, and do not forget about Facebook Ads. Facebook ads have exquisitely specific targeting and retargeting algorithms. This is a perfect D2C digital marketing strategy, which is more of a necessity, than an option.

D2C FAQ

Here is the answers to the most often asked questions about direct-to-consumer marketing, such as D2C meaning, its basic KPIs (key performance indicators), and its difference from B2C eCommerce.

What’s the Difference Between B2C and D2C?

The main difference between B2C and D2C is that the B2C (business to consumer) businesses use middlemen services, such as traders or retailers, to deliver goods to the customers, while the D2C model leaves off the help of intermediaries.

How D2C Marketing Differs from B2C Marketing?

For B2C marketing, where the sales are happening through the merchant, it’s important to push business to the checkout happening not on the manufacturer’s direct website, but on the retail platforms.

The B2C marketing model focuses on advertising and on traffic to these sales platforms. D2C brand marketing focuses on website SEO & traffic and creating an excellent buying experience to retain customers. This model puts emphasis on branding and building customer loyalty.

What are Basic D2C KPIs?

The key D2C KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are monthly website and social media traffic, organic search traffic, shopping abandonment rate, the number of new and returning customers, website conversion rate, customer engagement rate, paid advertisement conversion rate, and customer retention rate.

How to Build a Successful D2C Strategy?

The analysis of all the above-mentioned metrics can help businesses work on effective business strategies, and experiment with more marketing ideas to see which of them bring more measurable results.

It’s important to be proactive, constantly optimize communication with customers, improve various customer journeys, understand what motivates your clients to make a purchase, focus on customer retention and create reward programs for loyal clients.

D2C Marketing: Get Closer to Your Customers With Gepard

D2C strategy allows brands to get full control over the user experience, and customer contact information, and then use it to gain return buyers, enhance brand loyalty, and grow a community that shares the same vision.

Efficient product information management is key to creating a successful D2C business model and strategy. Here’s where Gepard PIM solution comes to the rescue. With its rich functionality, including content enrichment, data syndication, validation, and also digital shelf analytics, the Gepard solution empowers businesses to grow and stay competitive.

Ready to optimize and automate your product data processes? Book your free personalized demo now.

Automate Your Product Content Delivery

 

 

Alexandra Gladchenko
Guest Author
Alexandra has been contributing to Gepard blog, covering a variety of topics  in eCommerce industry.

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