More and more brands across categories are going direct to consumer, bypassing the traditional retail channels and selling through their own e-commerce websites with a heavy dose of social media marketing. A study from Interactive Advertising Bureau shows that direct to consumer companies are not curiosities in the retail model but representative of a new and enduring shift, across market sectors. In mattresses alone, DTC brands represented over 5 percent of all mattress sales in 2016, and that figure doubled in 2017. While direct to consumer expectations are evolving rapidly, there is one consistent expectation…… the e-commerce technology must perform flawlessly for the brand to be successful.

The Growth of Direct to Consumer

Successful direct to consumer brands offer exceptional shopping experiences and a unique selling proposition.

From the eyewear giant Warby Parker to shaving options, like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, these businesses proved the success of the model with astronomic growth. Other top players in D2C include Julia B, a luxury linen company, and fashion brands m.gemi and Bonobos, which started 100 percent direct to consumer but now have stores. As these examples illustrate, D2C companies can succeed across demographics and niches.

Successful Technology for D2C Brands

Technology is not a one-size-fits all approach. Whether it’s Magento, Shopify, or a custom build, there are several platforms for direct to consumer e-commerce. Regardless of the platform, successful D2C implementations are consistent in a few key areas:  

Strong Branding and Value Proposition to a Well Defined Target Market

Strong branding through colors, taglines, and logos — think of the bright orange of Harry’s — help D2C companies gain brand recognition, so they can get a foothold in the industry.

Clear value proposition connects to a narrowly defined target audience by identifying a pain point and positioning their product as the solution. Consider Warby Parker, which encouraged selfie sharing on social media as a way to pick glasses. The solution appealed to the brand’s target audience of Millennial shoppers, and dovetailed as the perfect UGC marketing strategy for Millennials, who value personal recommendations of brands.

Fast Loading Sites That are Easy to Navigate

It goes without saying that your site has to load quickly — less than three seconds. But clear navigation is just as essential.

Clear navigation guides visitors toward the product they seek while delivering a positive user experience. Intuitive navigation, combined with a robust search function, ensure your shoppers can always find what they are looking for, access product specifications and need-to-know information, and don’t have to backtrack off the page to learn important information, like shipping cost.

Rich Product Content

Rich product content helps your items sell themselves. Consumers are no longer content with baseline specifications, numeric item codes, or supplier-provided descriptions. They want data-rich information, product photos or videos, and immersive language that makes them feel as if they already own the item — and cannot pass it up.

Consider how m.gemi incorporates qualitative and quantitative data — from customer reviews to data about purchases and returns — to make their products more appealing to shoppers.

Streamlined Checkout Flows

Checkout is the last barrier to sale, and too many brands rely on outmoded checkout flows that frustrate consumers and cause shopping cart abandonment.

Long checkout forms are an automatic turnoff, so limit information collected to need-to-know only. Include a guest checkout, since requiring account creation is a mistake that costs some $300 million in abandoned purchases.  

Communicate shipping options, costs, and final item cost throughout the shopping experience. Customers value transparency and punish brands that withhold.

Building a quality Direct to Consumer e-commerce site takes a solid strategy, a user focused approach, a great design and strong technological implementation, not to mention a significant investment in marketing, but for successful brands, the investment is worthwhile as growth has been strong.

D2C is growing, and as these examples illustrate, customer experience is key to success with D2C e-commerce. From the first experience and brand awareness through to shopping, conversion, and product receipt, look to Accorin to design, implement, and launch an exceptional online shopping experience. Launching a direct to consumer brand? Give us a call at (617) 859-7900 or send us an email [email protected] We can help!