D2C Isn't Dead -- Marketers Are Just Doing It Wrong

The stumbles and shutterings of once high-flying direct-to-consumer brands as SmileDirectClub, Winc, and Blue Apron have sowed doubt about the category's future, leaving some to question whether the bloom has come off the rose for the category.

But direct-to-consumer ecommerce (D2C) is fine. It’s just that many companies are taking the wrong approach. 

D2C shoppers now expect a high-touch experience whenever and wherever they shop online. Companies like The Farmer’s Dog and Brooklinen are the ones that set the standard for how customer experiences are judged.

If there’s a lag in loading a product, a glitch when they go to check out, a broken link that takes them to never-never land -- these lead to bad customer experiences. Online shoppers will simply close the tab and go elsewhere.

Contrast this with all the attention  founders and marketers put on advertising, creative, and content production. All of these are an important part of the customer journey, but there’s a good chance that none of this content is the reason your cost to acquire new customers (CAC) is too high. Simply put, if your conversion rate is in the 2% range, you’re likely leaving money on the table. Your D2C equation is broken.



To succeed today, all D2C brands need to consider the entire customer journey and put more attention on replicating the same frictionless shopping experience that has made Amazon the standard. They can do this by focusing on the “less sexy” aspects of the customer journey. Here are three things D2C brands can focus on to ensure the online shopper checks-out her shopping cart:

Find a modern technology partner that can help you maximize your conversion rate and shopping experience. The proliferation of "off-the-shelf" apps don't give you the fine-tuning and strategic guidance needed to move the needle.

Shift your focus from customer acquisition to customer journey. All the attention goes to creative and content creation -- not nearly enough on merchandising and shopping experience. Focus your teams and efforts on driving "outcomes" in the customer journey, not "inputs" like media buying, email marketing, influencers, etc.

Be aware of your own biases and put consumer behavior at the center of all your decision-making. Proactively listen to your shoppers and customers. Work with teams that understand human motivations, habits, and desires. Listening to the consumer will yield valuable information regarding friction points in the shopping experience so they may be addressed. Customers are the brand’s best sources of feedback.

Marketers and entrepreneurs can fall into the trap of being too focused on creating good ads and the marketing of the brand. While important, the key to building long-term profitability is scaling the focus on customer experience as a whole and delivering excellence at every touch point.

Making the experience of shopping paramount is the key to success and how to do D2C right.

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