The rise of a new shopping era: From buying a product towards experiencing a brand

Brand-owned direct-to-consumer (DTC) commerce has also seen notable growth in shopper adoption – from 5% of UK consumers saying they prefer buying direct in 2022 up to 27% in 2023, according to Salsify Consumer Research. Shoppers are looking for confidence about the quality of a product they buy online. While a large online retailer may have a broad product selection, brand sites offer shoppers powerful experiences that communicate the value and uniqueness of a product. Salesforce found 64% of global shoppers buy directly from a brand.

A notable example of direct-to-consumer success is health and lifestyle brand Elvie, was founded in 2013 and has raised over £125 million. Their products – Kegel trainers and breast pumps – are innovatively designed and address intimate concerns, which is then communicated with directness and empathy.

Sixty-four percent of UK consumers say that the online shopping experience is what makes them loyal to a brand, according to Salsify Consumer Research. Elvie uses images of powerful women in its brand photography, alongside detailed product descriptions, clear product specifications, and thorough product videos on their ecommerce site. Alongside their TikTok channel, direct TV ads, and other advertising channels, the company stays focused on its core audience’s top concerns and builds trust with accessible information.

Other digital native vertical brands, like Ripple, GymShark and Spoke, were built on a small product selection, sold directly to their most passionate consumers. Many expand their sales channels to include brick-and-mortar and wholesellers demonstrating how much commerce relies on connecting all customer touchpoints and creating a cohesive, consistent shopping experience.

Connecting customer touchpoints

In the omnichannel era, DTC is an important channel for every brand to consider. Across the globe, besides DTC specialist sites like the German D2C Radar showcasing inspirational DTC stories, blogs, dedicated research and awards reflect the relevance DTC has gained in the retail market. In the UK, Sook just won the RGA 2022 in the DTC category, ‘bringing brands to life’ thanks to their innovative pop-up space rental, making shopping easier and more exciting for customers.

The DTC advantage

Aiming at creating omnichannel shopping experiences that are seamless to customers, brands can offer them multiple advantages through DTC commerce: more product innovations, more personalised products and competitive pricing, next to a dedicated, personalised customer service, which makes the DTC brand a partner for ensuring best usage of and satisfaction with their product. Being directly connected to the customer helps brands ensure the entire shopping journey is exactly what they want it to be.

PIM – A DTC success driver

Technology enables brands and retailers to deliver engaging shopping experiences and build stronger connections to their customers. Concretely, a Product Information Management (PIM) solution allows brands to manage, optimise, and activate product content at the speed of changing commerce, by offering a central source of product content - giving access to the most relevant and up-to-date product information for a brand’s DTC website.

Enhanced PIM technology helps brands get their products to market faster and prioritise product content that is updated according to changing trends and new buyer demands. It further supports cross-functional collaboration by giving ecommerce, marketing, sales, product, and customer service teams a holistic view of the brand’s product content while synchronising inventory and orders, ensuring that products displayed on the DTC site are in stock, avoiding customer frustration. It helps generate channel-specific product content: easily update product content to ensure it meets predetermined channel-specific retailer requirements and channel-specific content for the brand’s DTC website.

No way around personalisation

Personalised shopping experiences are more and more important for shoppers, representing a growing opportunity for DTC ecommerce. However, only 47% of companies base their communications on real-time customer behavior, as research from customer data platform Segment found. A majority of them are visibly missing their chances, since 49% of global shoppers would likely become a “repeat buyer” as result of a personalised shopping experience. Here, PIM comes to play, as it helps tailor product experiences for different use cases. As such, it can deliver product content in multiple languages, currencies, and regions. While being a huge opportunity for brands, DTC requires organisations to have powerful PIM technology in place to stay ahead of changing consumer demands and empower teams to adapt quickly.

To find out more about Salsify and the services they provide to the retail industry, click here.

This article was also published in The Retailer, our quarterly online magazine providing thought-leading insights from BRC experts and Associate Members.