It’s still too early to call the new normal with any degree of certainty but there are plenty of clues now that help us think about next.
The first half of 2020 has been eventful for ecommerce. Of course, technical innovation has progressed: Shopify launched a marketplace, Google relaunched organic product listings, Facebook introduced ‘shops’, and thousands of other changes. Tens of thousands of businesses sold online for the first time. Millions of transactions that would normally have taken place in stores shifted online. Ecommerce went from ‘high priority’ for most retail businesses to ‘the priority’.
As we move into the second half of the year, it’s likely more of us will be shopping in stores once again; more of us will go back to working at least part of the time in offices; some of us may be tightening our belts. But it is unlikely that ecommerce will go back to the level it was at prior to March 2020.
Here are some of the factors that D2C brands will have to focus in order to win the remaining and most important part of the year.
Invest on building the brand
This is precisely going to be the reason why consumers will select your products than anything similar or even better than yours. Why they are buying it, the proposition has to be craftily created and put upfront to the consumer. Many a DTC brand has failed by peddling features, ingredients, pricing, etc. A brand can never be commoditized and hence breaking into your consumers becomes extremely difficult over time.
The Bar has been raised:
D2C Brands will need to offer a simple and seamless e-commerce experience — from browsing to researching, selecting, purchasing, and returning /exchanging. Customers will no longer tolerate sub-par digital shopping experiences like they may have before the crisis.Make it easy for them to ask for help across devices and channels. Deploy a live chat bot – Tidio, Verloop, Haptik etc. works well.
Balance between own D2C and Amazon
This idea of products being delivered directly rather than bought as part of a bigger retail store first found a scale with “Subscribe and Save” on Amazon. Today brands have to think about how to balance their Amazon strategy with their own DTC. One of the strategies that has worked is to use Amazon as an acquisition channel and gradually move customers to own D2C through personalized seamless experiences that deliver better value.
Data and Tech Stack
‘Data’ is something that’s always talked about as having high importance. In general, there’s usually a lot more data around D2C than traditional retail, and in theory it’s a competitive advantage. The reason it has a little extra importance now is that many regular business patterns have changed:
- Your customers are behaving differently.
- Your suppliers are behaving differently.
- Your competitors are behaving differently.
Use data visualization tools like Lucky Orange, Smartlook, Crazy Egg, etc. to identify friction points and eliminate them. Slice your customer data into sharper audiences. It doesn’t work with small data sets / redundant (read, old and abused) cohorts, but if you run an awareness campaign and get traffic through that – use it to churn LALs (lookalikes) and remarket it judiciously. Use data points emanating from your tech and advertising stack to optimize key metrics like ROAS, NPS, Unit profitability, etc.
Just like ‘the year of mobile’came and went a decade back, ‘the year of AI’ (or perhaps ‘the year of Machine Learning’) basically came and engulfed us a few years ago. Jump past the hype, and implement some of these tools in specific areas to reduce costs with better efficiency.
Big brands can learn from the agility of many small brands – and whilst many are active, experimentation should be a priority for everyone. The crisis is actually reinforcing the best of D2C retail; everyone now needs to operate at the top level or get ignored.
Authored article by Mr. Ankur Pujari, Co-Founder & Growth Lead, Hyper Connect Asia.