Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers across the globe have been heavily reliant on ecommerce. Building the required ecommerce capabilities will undoubtedly be one of the biggest challenges for DTC brands, but also a massive opportunity to increase scale and profitability potential.
The question is, how can businesses put the pedal to the metal to accelerate ecommerce growth?
The COVID-fueled ecommerce surge
The COVID-19 pandemic brought different kinds of uncertainty, but one trend has become clear: it has fueled the ecommerce surge.
In 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and ecommerce sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, according to Statista.
The outbreak has reshaped our world in every way, but it has also accelerated digital transformation. According to McKinsey, in just 90 days, the ecommerce industry experienced ten years' worth of growth.
The numbers are jaw-dropping: 75% of U.S. consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during COVID-19, and 60% of them expect to stick to the new brands in their post-COVID-19 lives.
Suddenly, businesses found themself in a mad dash to figure out their ecommerce strategy and make the most out of the COVID-fueled surge in online shopping.
10 challenges of the modern ecommerce DTC environment
Today’s ecommerce landscape has brought some unique challenges. DTC brands who want to survive and thrive must pivot.
1. Ever-growing customers’ expectations
Since the start of the pandemic, customers have gotten much more comfortable with online shopping. As a result, they were exposed to different shopping experiences—from lousy to top-notch. Every time customers come across a seamless experience, their expectations get higher.
Even though this puts pressure on DTC brands, it also motivates them to keep an eye on the latest trends and constantly improve the online buyer journey.
2. Complex tech stack
Today’s DTC businesses are trying to keep up with the influx of software solutions they need to implement in their ecommerce store. While it's true that tools can make your life easier, juggling all those tools can feel like a Sisyphean task.
In the end, DTC businesses find themselves torn between building a complex tech stack and simplifying processes, which can ultimately hurt their bottom line.
3. Driving relevant traffic
One of the biggest challenges of modern DTC brands is figuring out ways to drive relevant traffic to their website. No matter how successful a brand is, attracting website visitors will remain at the top of their priority list.
Getting more eyeballs on their product pages is the only way to convert visitors into customers. However, today when the battlefield has moved in the digital realm, driving traffic seems more challenging than ever before.
4. Converting visitors into customers
Once you get visitors to your ecommerce store, the next step is to pave their way to the “add to cart” button. Creating an engaging experience becomes table stakes nowadays. But as the competition gets more fierce by the day, DTC brands struggle with abandoned carts more than ever before.
According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is slightly under 70 percent. Moving forward, ecommerce businesses will have to find a solution to boost their conversion rates.
5. The rising cost of customer acquisition
In the last few years, customer acquisition costs have remained stubbornly high—even more so now that deep-pocketed retailers have entered the digital advertising arena. Contrast this to a decade ago when DTC brands had the advantage of low-cost online ads that drove customer acquisition like cheap rocket fuel.
As a result, today’s online advertising costs have skyrocketed with the surge in demand, making acquiring new customers significantly more expensive.
6. Small ecommerce teams
Unlike the online giants, in most cases, DTC brands have small ecommerce teams. What’s more, their task lists keep growing. Between sky-high customer expectations and tackling daily responsibilities, ecommerce teams can feel overwhelmed.
In the end, they don’t have the time nor the resources to focus on strategic initiatives that can move the needle.
7. Disparate data
Data is a prerequisite for ecommerce success. Without data, companies would have to make their decisions based on assumptions. However, the amount of data that ecommerce businesses have to collect, analyze, and act upon is massive.
Because of disparate data, DTC companies end up with tons of charts, grids, and spreadsheets but with no clear insight on what to do next.
8. Siloed expertise
The silo mentality is one of the biggest bottlenecks to business growth. Even though companies strive to hire the best talent for every position, with time, expertise can lead to a siloed organization.
Breaking down silos is the only way to achieve high results. Companies that foster collaboration between teams but also embrace external partnership help are the ones who learn more and sell more.
9. Marketplace dominance
Ecommerce marketplaces have grown significantly in the last couple of years. According to Digital Commerce 360, people spent $2.67 trillion globally on the top 100 online marketplaces in 2020. What’s more, marketplace sales account for 62% of the global online retail.
What does this mean for DTC brands? Incorporating marketplace presence as part of your strategy can be the key to ecommerce acceleration.
10. Going global becomes table stakes
One of the great benefits of ecommerce is that it’s a great way to test waters with international markets. Even though going global requires dealing with returns, overcoming language barriers, and handling distribution and logistics, it’s still one of the best ways to grow your business.
The road to ecommerce acceleration in 2021
A new era of ecommerce is about to unfold. To start capitalizing on the ecommerce surge, you have to set your business for growth.
Let’s take a look at five strategies that will pave your way to ecommerce acceleration.
1. Optimize your creative for ecommerce
Customers crave engaging content experiences. It’s no secret that content can be the key differentiator for your business. High-quality product visuals and persuasive product descriptions are the basic requirements for success in the digital landscape.
DTC businesses that bet on ecommerce for the long run should start by creating a product page that converts.
In other words, build an engaging shopping experience that answers every question your customers may have. From sharp product images and detail shots to product reviews, recommendations, and videos, enriching the digital merchandising of your webshop will lead to more conversions.
One important thing to remember: if you’re selling through multiple channels, make sure to unify your brand experience and optimize your creative across every touchpoint.
As one of the most popular brands for running socks, Feetures was aware of the importance of a unified brand image across channels. They were challenged by the high cost of optimizing images and content on their ecommerce channels, which led to an inconsistent brand message across sellers. After partnering with Pattern, they optimized images and content and maintained a consistent brand image across all marketplace and Amazon listings while boosting overall annual revenue by 67%.
2. Rely on rules-based advertising and data-driven SEO
Digital marketing is an essential part of ecommerce. However, in the last couple of years, businesses have faced difficulties in reaching new customers. DTC brands have been conditioned to think that pouring dollars into digital marketing is enough and will bring them the expected results.
In reality, businesses are overspending without having a solid strategy in place. If you want to get the most of the money you invest in online marketing, you must rely on rules-based advertising and data-driven SEO.
Keeping your keywords in sync with product descriptions, alt tags, and titles ensures your product’s visibility on the keywords you’re bidding on. The first step is finding out the right keywords so you can start spending wisely and boost conversions.
3. Leverage the power of online marketplaces
Online marketplaces are booming. The fact that they account for more than half of global online retail is mind-blowing. It’s no surprise that more and more DTC brands choose marketplaces as testing grounds for their internationalization.
However, keep in mind that navigating the ins and outs of marketplaces is a full-time job. Taking care of the product listings, direct content optimization, and ensuring your customers are happy, are just some of the daily activities.
The good news is that you can partner with experts who can take care of day-to-day tasks while you focus on other growth opportunities.
Thorne is a supplements and wellness brand that wanted to expand its ecommerce presence. They wanted to grow to new marketplaces, but they needed help in uniforming the customer brand experience across channels. As a result of their Pattern partnership, Thorne was able to expand to 7 new marketplaces and countries, including Walmart.com, Tmall, MercadoLibre, Jet, and Amazon China, CA, and EU. Embracing this approach has helped them achieve 50% sales growth.
4. Create an effective ecommerce distribution logistics strategy
Distribution and logistics for global markets can be an absolute nightmare. From packaging and labeling to warehousing and fulfillment, DTC brands need good organization and a system in place to take care of each step–from the moment customers buy a product to the moment they receive it.
Finding an ecommerce distribution partner who will streamline your distribution and help you cut down costs can fuel your business growth. Tech-savvy distribution partners are equipped with advanced solutions to help you keep track of all your activities. Pattern’s Shelf software will keep you up to date on all product movements. With distribution centers in 5 countries, Pattern ships an average of 850K units each month to 12 marketplaces and 89 countries.
5. Put data at the core of your ecommerce business
The difference between an average and a successful ecommerce business is the data. Only brands that set up goals, gather data along the way, and take action on what they learn can adapt to changes, stay buoyant, and thrive.
Better data informs better decisions. Having an all-in-one ecommerce tracking tool will give you an in-depth look into the health of your ecommerce business, keeping you in the know of what’s going on with compliance, advertising, ratings, and reviews, and more—all on one platform.
Pattern’s solution Predict pulls real-time data from over 4,000 ecommerce sites each day to give you all the insights you need to win on Amazon and other marketplaces.
The U.S. brand Pure Encapsulations produces a complete line of research-based, hypoallergenic nutritional supplements. Pure needed better insights into their ecommerce business to help them take control of their channel, and a holistic ecommerce strategy to protect, grow, and clean up their brand online. By partnering with Pattern, Pure gained access to comprehensive ecommerce reporting through the Predict software. As a result, they were able to grow revenue by 4x since 2016.
Once new customer habits are cemented, there’s no going back. Today’s customers have high expectations when it comes to online shopping. DTC brands that want to accelerate ecommerce growth have to adopt strategies that will future-proof their business.
If you fail to adjust to the changing ecommerce landscape, you risk going out of business. The good news is that you can rely on expert help.
If you’re looking for a world-class ecommerce partner to support your growth, Pattern is your solution. Request your demo today.