Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Insights on Email Marketing

I don’t know anyone who does not feel like they get too much email.  So, if that’s true, how does it effect what you do in your email marketing.

I think it emphasizes three things:

  1. If and when possible, tie your emails to something happening in the news and put the link in the subject line.
  2. There should be a reason why your Call to Action is important right now.  Otherwise you email is just another of the hundreds of emails I get every day.
  3. If you cannot leverage one of the first two points, then inundate your customers, donors or prospects with your offer, repeatedly over some period of time — because all you can hope for is opportunistic matches between what your offering and your customers’ needs.

Just a little food for thought.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas,

More on Content Marketing

Content Marketing should prove that long copy sells.

It’s a myth that buyers don’t read long copy. In fact, buyers are the only people that read long copy — because they are interested. People who don’t read long copy are not interested in what you’re selling. So, don’t write for them. Write for the people who are interested in buying. They will self-select.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Omni-Channel Commerce, , ,

The Challenges of Direct-to-Customer Commerce

Where the market is today 

  • Direct-to-customer sales are growing faster than retail overall
  • The most profitable customers buy through multiple channels – store, catalog, online
  • Customers want a uniform brand experience across all channels
  • Debate of Sales/Use tax nexus and collections
  • Impact of shipping cost on order size, shopping cart abandonment
  • Advertising revenue for radio, newspaper is declining, while online ads are nearly sold out – based largely on the ability to target customers
  • Brands adapt to fit the direct-to-customer space

Where the market is going 

  • Channel conflict is losing its influence
  • As affluence increases, the importance of convenience grows
  • Direct-to-customer channel will continue to grow
  • Customers expect a online presence where they can research and buy
  • Customers expect to interact with the brand via email or online
  • Customers will post their opinions and stories about your brand online where everyone can read them
  • Merchants are still learning the nuances of customer acquisition, customer retention, life-time-value, and share-of-customer – all well established principles of direct marketing.

The problems of getting there…do it myself or outsource 

  • Running a direct-to-customer business is different than running a wholesale business or retail-store-based business.
    • Direct-to-Customer distribution is a different skill set than retail distribution
    • Assorted SKU cases v. unique SKU cases
    • Case picking v. Item picking
    • Residential delivery v. Commercial delivery
    • Merchandise planning
    • Demand planning & forecasting
    • Daily shipping deadline (when the truck pulls away)
    • Package presentation/merchandise presentation is important
  • Direct-to-Customer care is a different process than in-store service
    • Pre-sale product inquiries — what do these really look like and feel like?
    • Where is my order?
    • Returns & Exchanges
    • Anywhere, anytime
  • Direct-to-Customer technical systems operate on a different scale and at a different speed than retail systems
  • More exceptions, because we have less influence over customer behavior
  • Systems must support unexpected customer requests
  • Order volumes can be thousands per day, rather than hundreds per week
  • Pure volume of data explodes
  • Systems must be scaled and optimized to support intraday peaks of calls, orders, shipments
  • Use of multiple payment options especially the use Stored Value cards with credit cards.
  • Ability to customize marketing offers beyond the basic free shipping.

What you need to get there 

  • Execution expertise in the direct-to-customer supply chain
  • The ability to expand on short notice
    • Key stats on orders handled, calls answered, shipped sales, shipments
    • Network map
  • The ability to adapt your processes to support your brand
    • Technical integrations to web sites, ERP systems, data warehouses
  • Monitor and manage to meet or exceed your target Service Levels, improving customer satisfaction
  • Persistent effort to improve your processes and lower expenses

Filed under: Direct Commerce, multichannel commerce, Omni-Channel Commerce

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