The Direct to Consumer (D2C) route is becoming a popular one for brands to enter the market directly and connect with consumers, eliminating the need for middlemen. With several brands facing protracted closures owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, D2C strategies have gained immense traction over the past year. Entering the D2C sector has paved the way for several brands to establish more robust business models that will sustain them in the event of the looming economic downturn caused by the global crisis.
As for the e-commerce market, its growth trajectory has been remarkable with brands across verticals shifting to online selling. One of the fastest-growing in the world, India’s e-commerce market crossed $64 billion in 2020 and is fiercely competitive. As brands look to further enhance their e-commerce strategies to stay ahead of the game, here are 6 rules to amplify and bolster e-commerce strategies in the D2C business model.
Establishing Brand Purpose
For every brand, regardless of the vertical, there must be a sense of purpose. Brand purpose, in a nutshell, is a strong cause that the brand represents or stands up for. An area where it aims to make a noteworthy difference symbolises its purpose. For instance, homegrown brands such as Mamaearth, Sugar Cosmetics, BoAT, are some excellent examples of how establishing brand purpose goes a long way in reaching customers. As mentioned earlier, the e-commerce market is witnessing heavy competition, particularly with the D2C model’s rapid rise to fame. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, online sales across the world have skyrocketed with the average online transaction rising 74% over the past year. To thrive amidst this and ensure the brand stands out, establishing and adhering to the brand purpose is vital.
Focussing on product and brand building
The product the brand offers is one of the fundamental aspects that allows the brand to exist, drives sales, etc. But it will not suffice for a brand to merely have a good product. Marketing the product effectively plays a pivotal role in determining the success of the brand, its reach to the target market, and customer acquisition. There are numerous instances where good products have failed to take off in the market due to poor marketing by the brands.
For instance, Microsoft launched Zune in competition with Apple’s iPod but failed to analyse the level of stiff competition and fell short in its marketing campaigns. At the same time, some products have become a hit due to the brand’s marketing strategies. Nestle’s Maggi came back strongly after FSSAI/ lead controversy by exceptional marketing focused on product quality. In short, marketing can be a game-changer that calls for brands to have a dedicated, efficient, and skilled marketing team.
Brand building and marketing are two elements that go hand-in-hand since brand building is enhancing the brand’s equity through promotional strategies and acts as the visual voice of a company. For e-commerce brands that have limited resources in terms of finance and manpower, it would be best to outsource the operational functions and shift the primary focus to product and brand building and devising effective and efficient marketing strategies as they have a long-term presence.
Leveraging Social Media
By now, it’s common knowledge that social media has become a coveted channel for both consumers as well as brands when it comes to online transactions for purchases. Social commerce, as it’s commonly termed, is an integral part of the D2C business model in e-commerce. Speaking of social media, video commerce, celebrity collaborations, and influencer marketing are some of the trends that have gained popularity in recent times and are likely to prevail in the foreseeable future.
Brands harnessing the power of social media by regularly engaging with consumers, launching contests and giveaways, and building a community gain a competitive edge over brands that take conventional routes without social media. According to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, 69% of social marketers said that increasing brand awareness was their top priority. Also, 71% of consumers who have a good social media experience with a brand are most likely to recommend the brand to others. Moreover, influencer marketing can also come in handy when targeting pre-existing communities within a brand’s niche.
Organic Sales For Customer Retention
A fairly straightforward approach, focussing on organic sales and strategising ways to ensure exceptional customer experience and personalisation will increase customer retention. According to EY, 54% of global consumers felt that authenticity and honesty are extremely important when it comes to influencing their behavior. Brands can also adopt the omnichannel approach – utilizing multiple marketing channels to create a single, seamless customer experience. Driving business through organic sales will help the brand retain and acquire customers more efficiently, allowing it to scale faster.
User-generated content can act as a catalyst for brands, especially emerging ones, to increase their customer engagement. It is important to encourage customers to upload testimonials and reviews about the brand’s products on the brand’s website and social media. Brands such as Apple and Porsche are some excellent examples of those that leverage user-generated content to their advantage. Additionally, brands can also launch loyalty programs, another growing trend in the D2C model, to drive customer retention and acquisition.
Leveraging Both Marketplaces And Brand Website
For e-commerce brands utilising the D2C approach, harnessing marketplaces, as well as the brand website, will boost growth while allowing the brand to reach customers through various channels. Focussing on both simultaneously can facilitate increased brand visibility and amplify the brand’s strategy.
The ongoing crisis has accelerated D2C initiatives and adoption while inspiring new ones that were previously non-existent. The aforementioned rules of consumer-centricity, omnichannel approach, and product focus combined with comprehensive and robust functioning are the key to unlocking profitable growth in the D2C segment.
Sushant Puri is the Cofounder of ANS Commerce, a full-stack ecommerce enabler company.