15 E-commerce Best Practices for DTC/D2C Brands Looking to Level Up

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According to eMarketer, web traffic on DTC/D2C e-commerce websites has doubled in the last two years. In 2020 alone, US DTC e-commerce sales grew by 45.5%. Consumer goods companies saw 70% of their growth come from DTC sales online.

Traditional retailers of all sizes are hopping onto the DTC trend. Adidas announced this year that it plans to have direct-to-consumer make up 50% of its sales by 2025. Nike is investing to expand its direct-to-consumer digital empire and plans on gradually exiting its wholesale partnerships. 

As competition stiffens and more players target DTC e-commerce as a means to grow their brands, how will your DTC-focused brand stay in front of the pack?

Here are 15 e-commerce best practices to help your DTC brand get ahead. 

1. Add instant delivery

Customers are continually looking for faster delivery options at the checkout. 

With e-commerce giants such as Amazon now offering same-day delivery, D2C-focused brands cannot afford to lag in this area. But it can be challenging for retail companies and brands that sell direct. They lack the ability and resources to provide instant delivery themselves, instead of requiring the help of an instant commerce partner like Ohi

As for adding value to brands, in an analysis of its partner brands that offer both two-hour delivery and same-day delivery, Ohi found that orders delivered via sub 2 hr delivery were associated with substantially higher repeat purchase rates and CLV versus those delivered same-day.

2. Use first-party data to personalize the online shopping experience

Personalization is one of the best ways to improve ‘customer stickiness’. Having rich first-party data can provide a big competitive edge for e-commerce brands. 

Direct to consumer brands can use personalization to optimize their future marketing efforts and improve the overall online shopping experience. Here are a few ways: 

  • Create tailored product promotions: promote products a user is most likely to purchase based on their past orders or products they’ve viewed
  • Use first-party data to segment customers and reach out to them on the platforms they spend time on
  • Serve promotions to specific customers based on what has worked well with them before, whether that’s coupons, merchandising, specific messaging, etc.

3. “Wow” your customers with an awesome post-purchase experience 

Customers don’t just want products, they want services, experiences, and meaningful relationships with brands. A great post-purchase experience can compel your customers to keep purchasing from you, increasing your repeat purchase rate and customer lifetime value (CLV).

Ohi amplifies e-commerce post-purchase experiences for its partner brands by enabling excellent post-purchase order communications like real-time order tracking, order updates via SMS, and the experience of getting hand delivery in a custom-branded tote bag. 

4. Add diverse payment options 

Customers want to be able to pay however and wherever they want. For this reason, only accepting traditional credit cards will not suffice in the competitive e-commerce market. Enabling multiple payment methods is a critical part of offering a good customer experience. Many people today prefer making payments via e-wallets and alternative payment providers like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal, as they make checking out even easier and safer.

5. Keep customers in the loop with real-time tracking 

Your customers increasingly expect the ability to know exactly where their order is, having experienced the visceral excitement of real-time location services through Amazon, Uber, DoorDash, and other modern tech-driven experiences. 

Keeping customers informed about the entire order process, such as with a real-time map that shows where the courier is, can build trust between your customers and your brand and serve as a powerful differentiator.

6. Make sustainability a priority   

According to a GreenPrint survey, 78% of people are more likely to purchase a product that is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly. Today, customers are more environmentally conscious than ever and want their deliveries to be ‘fast’ and ‘sustainable’. They want to buy from brands that embody their values and allow them to make a difference in the world.

Using ebikes/bicycles and sustainable eco-friendly packaging, for example, Ohi helps its partner brands minimize their e-commerce channel’s carbon footprint, winning the hearts and minds of their eco-conscious customers. In a similar vein, EcoCart is a startup that allows e-commerce brands to offer carbon-neutral ordering through the use of carbon offsets.

8. Send abandoned cart emails: create urgency and use FOMO!

This is where you go after the one that got away. A common tactic is to send reminder emails about products that have been added to cart but not purchased.

You will start by sending friendly reminders a few hours after the cart was abandoned. The second email, a few days later, might create a bit of urgency. Pile fully into the FOMO for the third email by sending limited-time offers to get customers to complete their purchases.

Olipop is extremely good at this tactic. In this case, the email subject line ‘You obviously have good taste’ is flattering, and the animated ‘Ding Dong’ really catches the eye. The ‘15% off’ subscription orders is pretty much the cherry on top. 

9. Create a referral program 

Given the intense level of competition, both new and established brands need more ways to continue acquiring more customers. Referral programs are a great way to entice customers into sharing products with friends, family, and anyone in their social circles. Reward your most loyal customers and watch them become your brand advocates.. 

UNTUCKit’s refer a friend offer is even bigger than their welcome offer for new customers, which is 20%. Each time a friend uses your referral code to make their first purchase, they are rewarded 25% off, and you also get 25% off your next purchase!

The Airbnb Referral Program is another excellent example. Their program allows members to win promotional coupon credits (travel credits) for future bookings by referring their friends.

10. Leverage the power of AR to provide a ‘try before you buy’ experience

Buyer’s remorse is one of the biggest impediments to online purchases. No one wants to order the wrong product and be forced into what is usually a stressful process to return the product and get a refund. This is why some DTC/retail brands, including big ones like IKEA, Sephora, and Nike, are using AR as part of their e-commerce strategies. 

11. Optimize your checkout process

This is all about keeping clicks and steps to a minimum. No one likes a lengthy or confusing checkout process. 

Amazon is one to learn from here. With its one-click ordering experiences, they’ve revolutionized the e-commerce game, making it easy for customers to buy almost anything they want in just seconds.

Adding customer-centric features like one-click ordering, guest checkout, social logins, and express/mobile payment options will keep your customers happy and reduce ordering friction.

12. Tap into social commerce

According to Mobile Marketing Magazine, “TikTok has seen a 553% rise in shopping in the past 12 months,” however, “Instagram is still ahead of the social commerce game, with 64% shopping on the platform last year, followed by Facebook (45%) and TikTok (24%).”

Social commerce will inevitably become a critical part of DTC marketing strategies in the coming year. Glossier, a beauty blog turned beauty brand, was born on Instagram. Social media and UGC encompass a large part of its selling strategy. Despite the brand featuring its competitors, a unique selling point, it’s now one of the fastest growing beauty brands.  

13. Take your customer support to the next level with AI-powered chatbots

Customer service can make or break your brand. These days, many e-commerce brands automate repetitive queries with bots and ensure the complex ones regarding shipping delays, wrong orders, or failed payments are turned over to a human agent.

Bots act as digital concierges for your customers and take care of the simple questions. They can give your team more time to straighten out complex queries, taking the overall customer service experience to the next level.

14. Tailor your content marketing strategy to be ‘customer-focused

Content is a long game. When creating the perfect content marketing strategy, remember that it has to be focused on your customers.  

Thinx, a revolutionary feminine hygiene DTC brand, is an excellent example that’s hard to miss. New ideas can often be scary, so they’ve created a comfort zone for their target customers. Ditching perfect-body stereotypes, their content focuses on body positivity and inclusivity – making it a unique selling point. And people like it because they can connect.  

NomNomNow’s content across all platforms is well-tailored to their audience’s needs, providing exactly the assortment of content capable of convincing a pet owner to go for NomNom. Their Instagram is all about pet care tips and facts, pet features, and some really really cute photos of cats and dogs, making it hard to scroll past.  

15. Give your customers a dedicated, branded, mobile shopping app 

55.4% of internet users use their mobile phones to purchase products online and 69.4% say they use shopping apps on their mobile devices – be it a phone or a tablet (DataReportal, 2021).

Offering a brand mobile shopping app could help your brand drive engagement and revenue. Nike is one great example. The sportswear giant relied on its mobile app to boost its sales in a big way during the pandemic.

For customers, apps make it easier to find and buy products, and features like rewards programs for existing or first-time customers, notifications and personalized recommendations, real-time location tracking, and product maps can really help augment the shopping experience. 

Mobile shopping apps can be a great way for brands to gather the first-party data they need to accelerate conversion rate improvement and grow CLV. 

At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.