Tupperware, Thermomix or Avon - for brands like these, one sales strategy has played a decisive role for decades: direct sales. For some years now, young, innovative companies have been shaking up this model and adding a fresh online touch. The magic word here is D2C. In this blog post, we'll explain what D2C brands are all about, what's important in D2C marketing, and why Shopify is the perfect platform.
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Let's start by unraveling the acronym, because that explains some of it itself. D2C, sometimes also DTC, stands for direct to consumer and refers to a sales strategy in which middle men in the trade are cut out and companies do business directly with their customers. The common method of selling products through retailers and resellers is largely eliminated, with D2C brands relying instead on e-commerce and their own online stores. Design processes, manufacturing and sales are managed from a single source.
Another characteristic of D2C brands is that they have a rather small product range, but have chosen a specific niche and serve it perfectly. We'll explain what it takes in the course of this article, but for now let's get back to Tupperware and Co.
Shopify free trial for 90 days
That it's neither a phrase nor an empty promise to make commerce better for everyone has been proven by Shopify since the start of the pandemic. Anyone who needs their own online store can now try Shopify for free for 90 days and thus sell through an online store - without having to give up any fees to Shopify.
You can launch your new online store on this page and sell your store products through it.
The difference between direct-to-consumer and direct sales
Vacuum cleaner salesmen, agent sales and home demonstrations - you too may have all this in mind when you think of direct sales. Direct selling is probably the oldest sales method in the world. This involves the personal sale of products (or services) - often within the consumer's own four walls. At least that's how the Bundesverband Direktvertrieb Deutschland e.V. (BDD) sees it: "Direct selling is generally understood to mean the personal sale of goods and services to consumers in their homes or workplaces, in environments close to or similar to their homes." Online sales - with the exception of online parties - have not yet been mentioned in this sales context.
Elsewhere, the view is different. Some definitions (including Wikipedia's) see direct selling as including the sale of goods via e-commerce.
Direct-to-consumer can therefore be seen as a sub-form of direct sales, even if the salesroom here looks somewhat different than it did a few years ago - what matters is close customer loyalty, and this can be built up just as strongly here.
Advantages and disadvantages D2C
The D2C strategy is powerful and brings incredible benefits to companies and their brands. All sales activities are self-directed, so companies can maintain full control at all times and define their own sales channels.
Another advantage is that there are no costs for intermediary dealers and the sales proceeds remain entirely with the company. However, exceptions prove the rule here. Many D2C brands decide to also sell on Amazon, Avocadostore or other marketplaces, or to offer their products in supermarkets - because that is precisely part of their customer approach and philosophy. They want to be where their customers are and engage with them at every point.
Personal communication and direct customer contact are top priorities in the direct-to-consumer strategy. And that is exactly what goes down well. Customer wishes can be quickly recorded so that they can be incorporated into new product creations and satisfy consumer needs. This ensures that customers feel a much stronger connection with a brand and the percentage of repeat buyers grows. Often, this even creates fixed communities that actively talk about and interact with a brand on social media channels.
Another big advantage is also that a large amount of data can be collected, which in turn can be used again to improve the customer experience and personalize communication.
There's no question that the D2C strategy is not the easiest of undertakings, because it is labor-intensive. Companies have to take care of all sales activities themselves. It takes know-how, experience and qualified employees to set up the necessary sales structures to fully exploit market potential. This means that companies incur fixed costs for personnel, marketing and setting up the right infrastructure. A switch to D2C sales may also require adjustments to fulfillment processing (including inventory monitoring, returns or exchange processes), which can take a considerable amount of time.
What is important in D2C marketing?
The user experience is the most important point in direct-to-consumer and is pushed by many tricks, especially in marketing. This is because all the data that can be collected through this strategy can be used in communication and in the personalization of approaches and offers. This includes not only demographic data such as age, gender or location, but also purchasing preferences such as colors or styles. A personalized experience makes customers feel particularly comfortable with D2C brands, which leads to high customer lifetime value.
But how is this achieved? Social media is the key. Of course, many other marketing tools play into it, too, e.g.:
Personalized emails and newsletters
Live chats in the online shop
Easy tracking and returns of orders
Virtual and augmented reality in the store
But social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok in particular can be used to take the brand experience to a new level and perfect storytelling.
Brands like Shape Republic, which put a lot of emphasis on D2C sales, are leading the way.
They have mastered the game of Facebook and especially Instagram perfectly and are omnipresent on these channels. Through their work, they reach a dedicated and loyal clientele that engages with the brand. The following can be learned from D2C brands, or brands that take this approach to great lengths, like Shape Republic:
They use fantastic images and emotional storytelling
They engage their customers (e.g. through polls in Instagram Stories)
They use prominent influencers
They call on their followers to spread their own brand message (e.g. by using certain hashtags, tell-a-friend actions or calling for user-generated content)
You use video content to create a more virtual experience
You give followers the feeling of being part of a community (e.g., through Facebook group, exclusive offers for customers with customer accounts, a community name
You want to use direct-to-consumer marketing for yourself? Then make your brand tangible, get in direct contact with your target group, ask for opinions, answer questions, give your followers a space for lively exchange and be present!
Even though we are still a long way from normality, this crisis can be an opportunity to break new ground and find alternative sales opportunities. We are happy to support you in positioning yourself profitably online for the future. Feel free to contact us!
D2C with Shopify
Platforms like Shopify, which are streamlined, easy to manage, mobile friendly, and offer access to global suppliers, are perfect for a direct-to-consumer strategy. New products can be tested quickly here and fed directly into the Instagram feeds of the target group.
Shopify's many themes and app options allow for optimal storytelling, not only through plenty of space for good images, but also through the possibility of integrating videos or augmented reality features. Shopify's app store has it all, whether apps for inventory management, tracking new products, or marketing tricks.
By the way, we have presented some of the most important Shopify apps here.
Shopify offers all the important features without complicating normal day-to-day business. Especially for a quick start in e-commerce, Shopify offers all the technically necessary features. If you need a little more functionality, that's no problem. So far, every requirement could be solved with Shopify. By the way, we are happy to be your contact partner!
If you want to build a D2C brand with a matching online store, some elements should definitely be covered - and yes, all of the following can be mapped through Shopify:
Strong brand representation
Clean, mobile-friendly design that is easy to navigate
Advanced search options
High-quality product illustrations - through images and videos
Accurate product information and integration of customer reviews
A cohesive, structured checkout
The ability to get in touch (through chats, social media links, contact options)
Shopify also offers some concrete marketing tools to improve and personalize direct customer engagement. For example, Shopify Email was recently launched and made available free of charge until October 01, 2020. This allows merchants and retailers to launch email marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify backend, drawing on the store's existing design to deliver the perfect brand experience. Emails with new product offers and release news will thus go directly from your central Shopify administration into the inboxes of your customers and encourage repurchases.
Shopify also makes selling via Facebook and Instagram incomparably easy. The Facebook Pixel can be easily added to Shopify, so tracking your customers is integrated quickly and easily. Also, Facebook and Instagram can be added as sales channels, so you can have a store with your products directly on Facebook and Instagram and tag them accordingly in their posts.
Do you want to run social media ads? Then ask Kit for help! Kit is a virtual assistant directly from Shopify that helps Shopify merchants create campaigns step by step.
Do you want to elevate your brand experience and contact with your customers to the maximum? Then Shopify POS could also be the right solution for you. In your retail store you meet your target audience face to face and thanks to the Shopify POS system you can also pick them up after purchase with personalized offers, covering multiple touchpoints.
Let's face it - we could continue this list indefinitely, but we probably got our point across. Shopify, as an omni-channel store system, is an ideal companion for your D2C strategy! Want to get started with it and become as successful as numerous other D2C brands? We are happy to support you and look forward to your contact request!