The new generation of consumers want to be known, heard, and engaged with rich content rather than just being made to ‘shop now’ and ‘add to cart’. Currently, customer experience such as ease of shopping, convenient deliveries, easy returns, customization, and control while shopping is hygiene factors. They no longer take a brand’s claim at face value – they have enough resources at their disposal to research and get exactly what they want. They expect more from the brands they love – a personal connection and a human touch along with the ability to understand and address their needs. It’s imperative, therefore, for brands to establish a one-to-one connection with the consumers and this is where the D2C format plays a key role.
D2C platforms eliminate the barrier between the brand and the consumer, thus ensuring transparent and swift communication. This enables brands to learn from their customers which forms the base of the broad framework that most successful D2C brands draw inspiration from.
Successful D2C brands deliver on customer centricity by combining first-party data insights to offer an enhanced personalized and hassle-free shopping experience to their customers. This helps them deliver high repeats and LTV (Life Time Value) and low CAC (customer acquisition cost) - the two most important factors to survive in the current cluttered market where a new potential startup blooms every day to take away your customers. Winning on these two parameters requires customer obsession and with the advent of technology, this has been made possible, thus benefitting true ‘consumer-first’ brands. D2C enables the delivery of relevant, personalized, and connected consumer-centric experiences which help in winning the new generation of shoppers.
The D2C format gives brand eyes and ears on consumer behavior as they get complete visibility of the different stages of the shopper’s buying journey online. There are various tools available to integrate the data from online and offline engagement and create a 360-degree view of current customer profiles – their needs and behaviors. Based on this analysis, brands can easily identify triggers and barriers for their consumers and create solutions to facilitate better buying decisions leading to a win-win for both brand and consumers. Such insights gained through analysis of millions of these customer journeys help brands design the right customer cohorts and hyper-personalized communication tailored to each customer’s needs and want. This further sharpens the brand’s ability to reach out to potential lookalike audiences through the right segmentation and sharp targeting leading to improved media spending. If done right, this could lead to an increased conversion rate by 10-15 percent, add to cart by 5-8 percent, click-through rates by 20-25 percent, and media spending by 20-25 percent.
Product trial, which is now a crucial weapon in the D2C armory, is one such outcome of D2C customer engagement and extensive data analysis. Product trials before full roll-out limit any last-minute shockers and improve chances of product success. If executed correctly, this is a game-changer as it provides the most accurate and instant customer feedback at a minimal cost. Such a direct connection with consumers also reduces the product development cycle and gives the brand an edge over its competitors. If the customer has a feeling that he/she is being heard, even if something goes wrong, the customer will continue to have a positive attitude towards the brand. But how do you pave the way for this? The answer lies in effective communication.
Transparent communication is the cornerstone of any brand’s success and D2C platforms facilitate the two-way conversation, making the customer feel valued. This instills the belief that the relationship between the brand and the consumer goes beyond mere transactional realms and creates fiercely loyal customers. These interventions through the D2C format act as an additional sweetener for the average consumer and turns him/her from a consumer to a brand loyalist and subsequently to a brand advocate.
With this context, it’s only fair to say that D2C shouldn’t be thought of just as another channel but as a foundation on which other channels thrive as the insights gained from D2C platforms can be used to design sales and brand activations which eventually give higher conversion and enhance the customer experience across channels. The D2C brands know exactly who their customers are and what they are looking for without being dependent on information from walled gardens such as other online and offline marketplaces as D2C brands have complete control over the end-to-end buying journey of their customers.
With the evolution of the digital ecosystem, it won’t be wrong to say that D2C will take the lead as a primary source for consumer acquisition and retention through content and community engagement with commerce-enabled to facilitate transactions contrary to the current system where brands focus only on commerce while community and content happen in silos on social media. So, D2C should not be seen as a channel but as a mindset to retain the customers by understanding them better and building strong relationships that bring recurring business to the company and give it a reason to exist. D2C has certainly transformed the landscape from managing customers’ dissonance to driving customers’ delight.