How to grow online consumer sales by delivering the right message every time
Is your first impression the wrong one?
Like brands big and small across America, you likely have your eye on the lucrative and growing direct-to-consumer (DTC) market. You’re ready to take your brand experience—which may have taken years to build—to what you hope is a new audience eager to engage with your products in a new way. As a result, you’re expanding your sales efforts into online platforms such as Amazon. And as you do, you’re becoming increasingly aware of an unsettling truth: you’re losing control of the brand experience you’ve worked so hard to build.
When your package arrives at your customer’s door, it should be a thrill, not a letdown. From the outer packaging to the “extras” inside the box, the entire experience should feel like your brand. But what if it doesn’t?
That’s why established brands such as Nike are moving away from Amazon and similar online platforms, opting instead to sell directly to consumers and keep greater control over the experience. This is just the “tip of the iceberg,” according to Tim Armstrong, online entrepreneur and ex-CEO of AOL.
“The direct-to-consumer movement will be the replacement for the retail issues and commerce issues that are going on because of the platforms,” Armstrong said. “If they have the option to go direct, they are going to go direct.”1
Established brands like Nike aren’t the only ones seeking their fortunes in the DTC world. Entirely new brands have sprung from the online marketplace; it’s the only home they’ve ever known. They use proven strategies such as podcast sponsorships, flash sales, promotions and online influencers–especially those who make “unboxing videos” on websites like YouTube–to draw customers to their own site and other branded online sales channels such as social media.
Then, these brands offer visitors additional benefits like free samples, promotion codes and/or invite them to subscribe to monthly emails and newsletters. This creates new opportunities to build a line of communication between consumer and brand–incentivizing customer engagement and rewarding them for their loyalty. All these efforts work together to establish a consistent online brand experience. As more and more customers engage, their continual interaction evolves into an online brand community.
As you seek to grow DTC sales beyond your own website, what can you do to maintain the brand experience that will help you grow your community?
The moment of truth
The key to successfully introducing your brand to the wider DTC world is having a consistent “unboxing experience” with every package, every time—no matter where your customer buys. The moment your customer opens the box is the one of the most powerful interactions you can have. You want it to leave the right impression.
But as you begin to sell to a broader DTC audience, it’s easy to lose the integrity of your brand experience. Platforms like Amazon simply can’t personalize the moment the way you can. Even the outer packaging—with its plain and nondescript brown wrapper—says, “nothing special here.”
Products delivered by Amazon arrive “the Amazon way” and not yours. There’s no custom packaging that lets you deliver a rich and rewarding unboxing experience. There are no free samples, catalogs, thank-you notes, coupons or codes to input for discounts or rewards program points. There’s nothing in particular to keep the relationship going.
Nike’s decision to stop selling on Amazon “shows us that strong brands realize that traffic driven to their own site (e.g. NIKE.com) is self-sustaining, more profitable, and actually brand enhancing, while traffic and incremental revenue from Amazon.com is less profitable but also less brand enhancing,”2 said Randy Konik, Managing Director at Jeffries & Company.
Deliver the right message every time
Here, the opportunity to design your unboxing experience is all yours. Want to customize the outer packaging? Add a personalized note or coupon? Or include something else that will help you build your brand community throughout the DTC world? We’ll work with you to make it happen.
You don’t have to give up your brand experience to grow. You just need the right fulfillment company at your side. We happen to know a proven one.Contact Us
1CNBC.com. “Nike just ‘tip of the iceberg’ of companies ditching Amazon and selling directly to consumers.” Friday, November 15, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/15/armstrong-nike-just-the-start-of-firms-ditching-amazon-to-sell-direct.html
2CNBC.com. “Nike just ‘tip of the iceberg’ of companies ditching Amazon and selling directly to consumers.” Friday, November 15, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/15/armstrong-nike-just-the-start-of-firms-ditching-amazon-to-sell-direct.html