DTC eCommerce: opportunities for growth – a guest blog by Klevu
DTC-brands are growing faster than ever thanks to new technology. This guest blog by Klevu sheds light on a few opportunities for growth within the product discovery phase.
DTC e‑commerce: Opportunities for growth
While DTC as an acronym has been trending over the past decade, the practice of selling “direct to consumer” is nothing new. In fact, it's really a return to the most traditional and original of retail practices – albeit scaled up and enhanced with a few technological bells and whistles. From the market stall to the milkman, and the village blacksmith; direct to consumer commerce has deeply human roots.
While expanding digital horizons opened consumers up to a world of choice and convenience, huge online retailers often placed their focus here – selling more, shipping faster – at the expense of building a real rapport with their customers. The rise of DTC represents a revival of customer‑centricity.
The direct relationship with the customer is one of the many reasons why many DTC brands are so successful. The effect of this deep insight is that customers feel recognized, appreciated, and totally at home with a brand – they can see that they’re a good fit for the offering, and are confident that the products they purchase are going to be a good fit for them.
What’s so special about DTC ecommerce?
Owned ecommerce experiences for DTC brands need to deliver something that goes above and beyond what retailers who stock their items offer. It’s important to keep things fresh and relevant to the changing interests and motivations of your customers, in order to keep that “spark” of connection and relevancy alive.
Annie Rose Lougher, Head of Ecommerce at Bella Freud and Alexa Chung put it so eloquently in a recent panel about Luxury Customer Experience, saying, “You’re not just selling a product, you’re selling a lifestyle. The key to website usability, especially for luxury brands, is making sure that there are no dead ends on your website. We are delivering category pages that have a mix of content and product. There is so much to explore.”
DTC retailers can learn what motivates customers by getting more creative and playful about the ways that they collect data. From apps through to quizzes, there are many ways to engage and entertain customers at the same time as learning more about what makes them tick.
Annie Rose Lougher goes on to say, “The importance of data has become a lot more prevalent over the last few years, and even more so over Covid. By having that direct relationship with your customer you're not diluting your brand voice through a third party or a multi‑brand retailer so you can be more creative and a lot more reactive. You can also give customers really good reasons to be a part of your database, encourage them to build out their preferences to give an accurate profile. A rich CRM is such a key part to a good strategy! We use ours to create lookalike audiences as well. By segmenting customers and analysing their behaviour, we are not just bringing in more revenue, we are learning how to improve and grow.”
One of the advantages that brands with wider product ranges can enjoy is access to a greater amount of site search data. This can be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about customer interests and intent.
Reducing friction in product discovery
Shopping with specialized DTC brands may give shoppers a more niche customer experience, but unavoidably, lacks the convenience of a multi‑brand retailer “one‑stop‑shop” in terms of being able to make multiple purchases in one transaction.
Product discovery is the process whereby a customer finds (or is presented with) a product that’s a great fit for their profile. It's the first step in the purchasing process, and as a result, brands need to do all they can to assist customers with the identification of a desirable item.
Because of this, a smooth pathway to purchase is essential for DTC brands. This is commonly achieved through very limited product offering, but also through well‑designed on‑site experiences that handhold the customer right through the purchase process. But many brands don’t have the luxury of a hyper‑limited offering.
Cross‑selling and up‑selling also fall under the umbrella of product discovery, as savvy brands make sure that customers come into contact with complementary or superlative products on their pathway to conversion. There’s great scope here for DTC brands.
A frictionless product discovery is essential for DTC brands.
What to do next
AI has revolutionized product discovery in recent times, as stores can now be automatically merchandised to optimum effect based on real‑time data (right down to a personalized level). Klevu’s natively‑headless Smart Search, personalized recommendations and Smart Category Merchandising helps retailers rest easy, knowing that they are making every website visit personal, and that is what customers expect from DTC.