Building a brand strategy for your eCommerce store is a critical and powerful marketing, customer retention, and loyalty method. It should be used effectively by new as well as established eCommerce businesses.Traditionally, brands sell directly to big retailers and use distributors to reach small and independent shops. It’s a model that has worked successfully for decades. However, in a digital world, this balance is disrupted.
Brands without strong direct-to-consumer channels are at a fundamental disadvantage as compared to those that do and are missing out on additional revenue. Smart brands use their online stores as a means to introduce new customers to their products.
Reasons why brands should sell directly to customers online:
To Capture the Demand You Create
Customers follow mainly two patterns while shopping for products. One is, they go up to a marketplace in search of products that are similar to yours. At times, customers visit a marketplace (Amazon or Myntra) to buy products manufactured under your brand (Vero Moda). The difference lies in the channel through which information about your brand reaches the customer. In the first case, the marketplace is the source, and in the second, it is the brand that acquaints the customer with the market channel. However, in the later scenario, there lies a definite possibility of the customer buying any brand instead Vero Moda. Now, the demand generator essentially was the brand, but it could not monetize on the same. Had Vero Moda been present actively on eCommerce with its own captive site, there was a larger chance of it turning that demand into business.
To generate more demand and strengthen brand recognition
Search engine optimization is an ideal way to obtain greater visibility among customers. Brands usually rely heavily on channels to promote their products. Big brands still struggle to sell their products through direct response advertising. Hence, you need to look for alternative methods to present your products to the customers. Contests, surveys, and PR will fetch you more sales than co-op marketing.
To achieve balance of power with online partners
Marketplaces and brands are constantly engaged in a tug of war to prove their power. Hence, both parties need to ensure that the division of profit is proportionate. It is, therefore, important to utilize multiple distribution channels to prevent dependence on a single platform. Alternatively, you can strengthen your brand recognition to entice these online channels to join hands with you with the purpose of satisfying customers’ demand.
To communicate directly with customers
Communication is the key to achieving success in the eCommerce space. If you can effectively communicate the features and benefits of your product to customers, you are assured of a long association. This objective can be achieved mainly through three channels: Marketing, feedback, and recommendation. Customer retention is as important as acquisition, and in the long run, you will only benefit from giving your customers a chance to share their thoughts.
To provide personalized experience to customers
The direct-to-customer channel is another way you can not only acquire but also retain your customers. If you send your message directly to customers instead of a via media such as an online retail partner, you are sure to see the difference. Also, customers are your ultimate target, so it is imperative that you know what they want or need. Direct communication is the best way to collect data and provide a personalized shopping experience.
To achieve control over pricing
It is necessary that you review your pricing strategy from time to time. Today, you have well-read customers looking for specific requirements at the best price. Shoppers are always on the lookout for the lowest prices. A number of websites offer discounts and coupons. Therefore, your job is to analyze this trend and review your prices. Sell your products as packs, and you are good to go. In other words, if you have an expensive product to market, couple it with other products. Buyers usually find it difficult to determine the cost of each product. Keep a watch on discounts offered by partner channels without your approval.
To test new markets and products
Move beyond your target customer base and location to widen your net. Once you establish a firm ground in an area, you will be able to capitalize on fresh requirements. If you want to outdo your competitors, it is important that you diversify. This approach will help you gain a stronghold in this location over other brands that follow.
Any new product is equivalent to a new experience. Therefore, after you launch a fresh product, exhort your customers to share their feedback so you know whether this product serves their purpose.
Examples of brands going direct-to-consumers:
Consumer brands like Nike and L’Oreal are employing “portable” eCommerce experiences, mobile apps that in-store beacons, and digital out-of-home digital media networks to continue the conversation started on eCommerce websites into the store. This method also helps deliver a wide range of personalized offerings at the point of sale.
This strategy helps offer direct support to enhance or accelerate eCommerce customer journey by adapting and evolving as per their behavior and differentiating the brand experience. Some brands supplement the retail, partner, and promotional channels they count on with personalized experiences, education, and decision support. Others are trying to displace traditional paid media, intermediary, and retail channels that keep them from learning more about their customers. In either case, the results of a well-executed direct-to-customer strategy can be measurable and also disruptive.
Examples of Captive Websites built by Iksula:
Iksula builds and manages engaging eCommerce experiences of various global brands. Few examples of captive websites built by Iksula are:
- Vero Moda (http://www.veromoda.in/)
- Jack & Jones (http://www.jackjones.in/)
- Only (http://www.only.in/)