The hurdles have been especially formidable in the retail segment, where the business landscape was already evolving before COVID-19 kicked some of the changes into overdrive. To survive, the most nimble of brands have moved toward online, direct-to consumer (D2C) sales, which have proven to be a lifeline for many retail businesses as in-person retail options have been drastically limited. And at TBA Outdoors, we’re advising our clients to embrace the opportunities presented by this shift toward DTC.
While maintaining relationships with buying groups and major retailers is of course still important — and will become even more so as our nation gradually reopens for in-person business — there are some solid reasons for brands to continue cultivating any DTC capabilities that the pandemic may have set in motion or ramped up for them. Consider the following benefits to keeping your brand’s DTC momentum rolling even after the current pandemic-related crisis is behind us:
A new demographic:
For many brands, the pandemic has brought in a new demographic of customers who weren’t accustomed to doing business online before. Whether, for example, they’re clothing buyers who previously preferred to visit stores in person and try on their new gear before pulling the trigger or older consumers long accustomed to in-person shopping who simply hadn’t yet tried online buying, the pandemic forced many consumers online to make their purchases.
A more direct line of communication:
When consumers visit a retailer’s website, it gives the brand the opportunity to speak directly with its consumers — as opposed to being one of many brands found on the shelves and racks at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. This offers the opportunity for brands to bring the consumers closer, have more control over the brand messaging, take added control of the customer experience, and share the brand’s true heart and soul.
A new path to purchase:
Once a traditional, in-person consumer becomes an online/DTC consumer, the brand can lead the consumer down a new path to purchase — one over which the brand has much more control than it does with traditional retail outlets. Further, these more online-savvy consumers can make purchases more easily and from anywhere, making the new path to purchase a smoother one requiring less work from the consumer.
The next step: customer retention
All said, the new realities presented by the pandemic have brought new customers for retailers who have been able to develop (or maintain) strong online DTC presences. The challenge now for these brands: keep these new consumers coming back. Among the ways to help ensure that any newfound customers keep doing business with your brand:
Optimize your website’s path to purchase —
The ultimate goal of your brand’s website is to make as many conversions as possible and increase your revenues. And there are some proven ways to do just that, most of them driven by data and strategy. This is a topic we’ve covered before, so we won’t get into too much detail here. But for the deep dive on optimizing your website’s path to purchase, check out our recent “Creating the Perfect Path to Purchase” blog article.
Ramp up your customer experience —
Of course, to keep new online customers coming back, it’s important to ensure that they have a great experience with your brand. Beyond delivering a strong product or service, it’s vital to ensure that your customer service is highly responsive and firing on all cylinders. Be sure that your customer service representatives are well-prepared to address any customer issues that may arise and that your website is geared up to handle traffic beyond the capacity anticipated.
Grow your customer database —
Another great advantage of online retail is that it presents a golden opportunity for brands to harvest consumer data. When customers buy from you on your website, be sure to get their email address and add it to your email-marketing database. Using this info along with the consumer’s shopping and purchase history, brands can segment their marketing messages and speak directly to specific audiences with personalized/customized campaigns. This lets the consumer know that the brand knows who they are and what motivates them — which in turn improves conversion rates.
Need expert help developing or enhancing your online/DTC capabilities? At TBA Outdoors, we’ve helped brands large and small build and expand their direct-to-consumer capabilities. If you’re interested in learning more about our services or would like an assessment of your current marketing and retail strategies, please feel free to give us a call or send us an email.