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Direct to consumer, A unique shopping experience

Romain Ledru-Mathe
Published on
December 31, 2021
This is the fifth article in a series of 8 concerning direct-to-consumer. An article will be published each week.

The second pillar of an effective D2C strategy lies in the focus on the shopping experience, beyond the intrinsic quality of the products. User experience is central to a D2C channel and must be constantly innovated, from product selection to delivery to customer service. Every detail is thought out to simplify the consumer's life and offer them a differentiating experience, which will ultimately build loyalty.

A classic user journey on Amazon consists of consulting an almost endless list of products and engaging in tedious selection and comparison work: the value proposition lies in the completeness and simplicity of the act of purchase (we can buy in 1 click). Conversely, a D2C strategy will prioritize consumer comfort throughout the purchasing experience , via several mechanisms.

Simplicity

The D2C shopping experience begins with the simplicity of choice : direct-to-consumer brands generally offer a limited number of products, highlighted with a lot of additional content and services (cooking recipes, beauty advice, etc. .). Not having too large a catalog allows you to remain agile and to perform rapid tests, in order to meet existing needs as closely as possible. Most of the DNVBs also started with a single product (subscription diapers at Joone.fr , a single type of mattress at Casper ), before gradually expanding their range according to feedback and requests from their consumers. This is also the strategy chosen by PepsiCo on Pantryshop.comor by Heinz on the Heinztohome.co.uk site who only offer product combinations designed to meet specific needs (eg "The Baby Bundle", "The Workout Bundle") and not their entire range . This choice simplifies the associated logistics and makes it possible to quickly test the most efficient combinations.

Customization

Another winning strategy is that of product personalization , for example by asking consumers to answer a questionnaire on their preferences. This is the formula chosen by Tails.com, which offers personalized kibble for pets, or Color & Co , personalized hair dyes from L'Oréal. Not only does personalization make it possible to retain customers and increase the price of a service, but this type of approach also makes it possible to collect large volumes of data on consumer preferences, data useful for marketing or product innovation.

Customer service

Beyond the choice of products, the experience also involves quality, responsive and efficient customer service . This brick is often the most complex to put in place by traditional players, who are not used to interacting directly with their consumers. However, the quality of customer service is often what explains the success of DNVBs which, not having the physical means to interact with their customers, have had to invent new ways of communicating with them. The success of the Bonobos men's clothing brand is thus in part largely attributed to the responsiveness of customer service.(90% of calls are returned in less than 30 minutes and customer emails are processed in less than 24 hours). This service is an integral part of the quality perceived by the end customer, and makes it possible to provide valuable information on customer needs.

Delivery

Finally, the last brick of a memorable customer experience, flawless delivery . Used to the fast and inexpensive delivery of generalist platforms like Amazon, consumers are often disappointed with the delivery experience, especially when it is outsourced. However, as the only physical contact between the company and the customer, the impact of delivery on overall satisfaction is very strong.

The most successful D2C companies often seem to choose to internalize logistics and delivery, in order to control the various aspects. The Saveur-Bières.com site has therefore set up its own fleet of delivery trucks, starting from its own warehouse where all orders are prepared internally. Ocado , the UK's leading food grocery delivery provider , sees its delivery people as part of the “Customer Service” team, representing the brand with their uniforms and being able to provide direct refunds upon delivery.

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