“D2C and Other Digital Adaptations During COVID-19” is a digitization action plan for consumer goods companies during a time of great turmoil, totaling over 50,000 words.
A D2C Brand Might Be Considered More Relevant Because of Its Mission-Driven Narrative and the Inherent Accountability of Its Business Model.
Amid this massive, societal uncertainty, one thing is clear for businesses:
The new economy is increasingly digital. And digital business models may even help to keep people safe.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to account for newly developed lockdown habits. Brands/manufacturers are still trying to figure out how to manage their relationships/tensions with Amazon and the big retailers.
Despite the devastation and business closures, some businesses and verticals have been disproportionately overwhelmed by commercial opportunities. Many D2C brands that provide products or services primarily intended for at-home use have thrived, especially after cracking the code of their customer acquisition.
“The pandemic accelerated trends that were already underway” was a commonly heard refrain in the business community throughout 2020. However, this observation has its limitations and depends on the particulars of the business, category, market, and consumer segment.
To the extent that the pandemic has created and accelerated trends, for what duration will they last? They could be short, medium, or long-term.
This report examines the various D2C strategies and digital adaptations that have been utilized during the pandemic, which may be critical to sustaining growth, mitigating decline, turning things around, or blazing a new trail.
D2C is sometimes misrepresented as a streamlining of operations. In reality, it has its own complexities and requires its own forms of specialized knowledge, especially in terms of customer acquisition, retention, and order fulfillment. The best D2C brands view this as a global market opportunity and as a strategic opportunity to exercise more control over key factors in the customer experience.
As the world continues to rapidly and dramatically change, so will consumers, and so must businesses.
This clarifying, strategic, highly-detailed report is structured as follows:
- Executive Summary: The most important findings are extracted, paraphrased, and categorized.
- D2C Strategies: 12 core strategies are explored in great depth. Specific examples, challenges, and tactics are laid out within each strategic section. This report gleans insights from D2C brands that struggled, adapted, and grew during the global pandemic.
- D2C & Amazon Factors: U.S. political developments have freshly highlighted the ethical considerations and uncertainties of big tech. As a result, there’s also more attention placed on the Amazon seller’s dilemma. With careful objectivity, this section of the report explores questions such as: Will Amazon sales undermine a D2C site? Will Amazon analyze your product, market, and customer data in order to launch a competing product?
- Digital Adaptations for Retailers: Brick-and-mortar might be increasingly perceived as a financial burden. Digital channels are critical. And yet, there’s more to it than that. It takes the right strategy, scale, and optimization to digitally match or exceed previous brick-and-mortar margins, for retailers and brands alike. The best retailers will also harness technologies that are unrelated or adjacent to D2C, in order to address long-existing problems such as return fraud and shopper confusion.
This information and analysis could be useful to an executive determining a strategic direction, or an investor determining what is still relevant within their portfolio and what could become increasingly relevant.
The strategic section of this report will provide comprehensive answers to the following key questions:
- How are D2C brands thinking about customer retention during the pandemic?
- How are different business models evolving, overlapping, and competing?
- How can D2C brands establish the level of credibility required for conversions and subscriptions in their category?
- How are disruptive startups optimizing their channels, clarity, and timing? What’s the ROI on different digital tactics?
- What’s the most important quantitative data pertaining to CX expectations and implementations?
- What are the organizational, strategic, and capital-related advantages or disadvantages of disruptive D2C startups?
- How are D2C brands incentivizing email sign-ups and faster conversions?
- What are the overlooked risks of data-driven strategies?
- How are D2C brands targeting overlooked or misunderstood consumer segments and building online communities?
- How are D2C brands fostering and leveraging creativity to fulfill orders, allocate digital budgets, and gain market share?
- How are supply chains affected by new technologies, government policies, and pandemic-related disruptions?
The Amazon and retail sections will address pressing business questions and concerns, such as:
- How might brands evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining an Amazon presence in addition to a D2C channel?
- What digital adaptations are major retailers currently implementing and iterating on?
- What structural shifts, new margins, and organizational incentives might be associated with these tech implementations?
- What future technologies and transformations are just beyond the horizon?
Table of Contents
1.2 Target Audience
1.3 Companies Mentioned in this Report
2.2 Customer Relationships
2.3 D2C, VC & CLV
2.4 Digital Tactics
2.6 Supply Chains
3.1.1 Stress-Testing a Customer’s Ability To Pay
3.1.2 Vertical-Specific Categorizations
3.1.3 Tiered Concessions Based on a Needs Hierarchy
3.1.4 Levels of Segmentation/Personalization
3.1.5 Stages of Retention
3.1.6 Infographic 1: Retention Strategies in D2C
3.2 D2C, B2B, and C2C: Evaluate the shifts and tactics.
3.2.1 B2B and D2C Acquisition
3.2.2 C2C and D2C Meeting Similar Consumer Needs
3.2.3 Key takeaways
3.3 Establish trust and accountability between your D2C brand and consumers.
3.3.1 Socioeconomic factors
3.3.2 Differentiation through messaging, risks of offense & tech moderation
3.3.3 Establishing credibility and recurring revenue
3.3.4 Key takeaways
3.3.5 Infographic 2: Establish Trust & Accountability
3.4 Optimize channels, clarity, and timing.
3.4.1 The value of simplicity
3.4.5 Customized tracking pages
3.4.7 Key takeaways
3.5 As ecommerce accelerates, don’t undervalue CX.
3.5.1 Opportunity to capture growth, through experiences (CX)
3.5.2 CX shortcomings
3.5.3 Brooks Bell’s levers of CX optimization
3.5.4 Insights from Moxtra, a customer collaboration platform
3.5.5 The limits of differentiation
3.5.6 Key takeaways
3.5.7 Infographic 3: Opportunity to Capture Growth Through Experiences (CX)
3.6 D2C brands can disrupt with VC or a unique appreciation of CLV.
3.6.1 D2C and VC
3.6.2 The D2C Mindset
3.6.3 Recruiting Considerations and End-to-End Thinking
3.6.4 Enabling Velocity with Platforms: Shopify and WordPress
3.6.5 Key takeaways
3.7 Use higher incentives for quicker conversions.
3.7.1 Increasing and stacking promotional offers
3.7.2 Different pathways, same goal
3.8 Data is advantageous but a vicious cycle is not; go for granularity.
3.8.1 Good for business, or a good business?
3.8.2 Accuracy, or amplification?
3.8.3 Business interpretations and technical approaches
3.9 Look for misunderstood or miscategorized consumer segments.
3.9.1 Key takeaways
3.10 Order fulfillment is still a marketing opportunity.
3.10.1 Shipping promo codes
3.11 Find pockets of creative resonance and allocate budget in real-time.
3.12 Maintain, reevaluate, and technologically augment supply chains.
3.12.1 Maintaining quality
3.12.2 Consumer perceptions
3.12.3 Implementing new supply chain technologies
3.12.4 Supply chain partnerships
3.12.5 Overseas manufacturers and market differences
3.12.6 Key takeaways
4.2 Optimizing Discoverability within Amazon
4.3 Internal Divisions
4.4 Habit Creation
4.5 The Amazon Seller’s Dilemma
4.6 Acquisitions within the Amazon Ecosystem & Insights from Consolidation
4.6.1 Margins vary
4.6.2 Conversion rates
4.6.3 Virtuous cycles
4.6.4 Bestseller/Amazon’s choice = 20-30% bump
4.6.5 Advertise off the platform, too1
4.6.6 Rethinking logistics
4.7 Infographic 4: The Amazon Seller’s Dilemma and Ecommerce Opportunity
5.3 Infrastructure Installations
5.4 Inventory Management
5.5 Brands vs. Retailers
5.6 The Returns Dilemma
5.6.1 Return abuse
5.6.2 Technological and return policy solutions
5.7 Leaning into Innovation
A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:
- SK-II (Procter & Gamble)
- Dollar Shave Club (Unilever)
- Peace Out Skincare
- Bokashi Steel Knives
- Rad Power Bikes
- Luke’s Lobster
- Mirror (Lululemon Athletica)
- Bonobos (Walmart)
- Kraft Heinz
- Reckitt Benckiser
- Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) (Kingswood Capital Management)
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Waitrose & Partners
- Thrasio Holdings