The coronavirus pandemic has made many organisations reassess how they engage with their customers.
As more and more nations transitioned into a state of lockdown, previously sound business models started to become unfit for purpose.
As a result, the direct to consumer model (D2C) continues to grow in popularity as businesses remain committed to delivering rewarding services to their customers.
For those who seek it, there is an opportunity to use this unprecedented period to acquire new customers and build sustainable relationships with existing ones, by not only giving consumers an experience that only your brand can offer, but one that they desire.
Transforming pre-existing business models
Effective customer engagement is constantly evolving. In order for organisations to stay relevant and maintain consistency across the increasingly digital and the physical world that we inhabit, they must adapt with the times.
Coronavirus has triggered many brands to reassess their existing routes to market and look at new opportunities to offer services that are convenient, flexible and reliable. It is these types of characteristics that consumers are demanding from brands now more than ever.
It’s integral that businesses have the infrastructure and systems in place to give customers the experiences they expect and demand, at any given time. Otherwise they risk damaging their brand’s reputation and losing out to competition if they cannot provide a reliable and responsive service.
The D2C model is transforming many businesses’ approach, especially in the retail landscape. It is blurring the lines and relationships between brands, retailers and customers. Opening a D2C supply channel is a great way for start-ups, small or medium-sized businesses to establish market demand and drive growth.
To secure orders with large retail chain distributors, businesses would have previously required evidence of a steady stream of demand for their product or service – opening their own routes to market can help bypass this.
Reliable data insights are essential
A key area for making new business experiences, strategies and technologies successful is in unlocking the power of customers’ data.
Businesses rely on consumer trust and a willingness to share data in order to build sustainable and rewarding relationships with their customers. After all, it is their ongoing insights and preferences that help drive key business decisions. But consumers must trust that their data is respected and protected.
Organisations can only unlock this value by having a transparent, honest approach with customers and by making the benefits of sharing their data and preferences clear. Most people are happy to share information when they know what they’re giving and why, the DMA’s research supports this. Reliable data insights are essential for building emotional and sustainable relationships with consumers.
The benefits of data sharing have been well documented but organisations, including governments around the world, must use the coming months to prove to consumers that they have their best intentions at heart.
Creativity can give you a competitive edge
Not only is an extensive and GDPR-compliant database needed for a D2C model to be successful, brands must also understand consumers’ preferences and how they can deliver customer experiences that provide a unique brand experience, to inevitably drive long-term loyalty.
Subscriptions are a great way for brands to build a sustainable D2C model. It appeals most to consumers looking for convenience and consistency. Not only in terms of quality and value for money, but also time-saving benefits gained from brands offering relevant recommendations to their consumers.
Beyond the infrastructure and operational challenges, actually targeting and marketing directly to your customers is very different to engaging them via another brand. Creativity and innovation are essential here.
Amid a global pandemic, we are seeing subscriptions continue to show their importance, bringing customers what they want, right to their door. From grocery products to entertainment media, subscriptions offer customers easy access to goods and services without having to leave their homes.
Businesses must innovate to stay relevant. In the retail sector, for example, organisations are creating new opportunities to meet ongoing consumer demand. PepsiCo recently launched two D2C websites – PantryShop.com and Snacks.com. This was to accommodate growing demand for at-home food consumption. Customers can now order PepsiCo and Frito Lay products directly from the company via the online platform with a variety of bundle offers, gift packages and subscriptions.
Defining the new ‘normal’
It’s hard to know what the world will look like post-coronavirus. It is likely that many businesses will continue to strive for innovative ways to be less co-dependent on others. If the pandemic has taught organisations one thing, it is that they must try to remain functional through periods of adversity.
It will be very interesting to see which brands move towards newfound direct relationships and which opt to revert to retailer-first. Nothing in life can guarantee success, but creativity, reliable data insights and an adaptable approach can help to give you that cutting edge.
One certainty, in this uncertain time, is that the opportunity for brands that can build successful direct relationships with customers is huge, beyond any direct revenue gains. It also puts long-term brand loyalty directly in the hands of organisations.