eCommerce has grown exponentially since the start of the pandemic and each year new trends and innovations lead the way to creating better customer experiences. We looked at some of the top tips and predictions that were shared for 2022 in the DTC market place and now, as we’re halfway through Q1, we wanted to revisit some of these tips and ask 5 of our agency partners whether these predictions are still on point. Is 2022 shaping up like we had initially thought? This article will dive into what brands can expect for the remainder of the year and beyond, and insightful tips on how you can be prepared.
This Trend Can Transform Your D2C Business
D2C companies face unique challenges. Growing competition, challenges ranking, rising costs, and more. To stay competitive, they will need to shift their approach.
At NP Digital, we push boundaries with client strategies, leverage automation, and invest in new marketing technologies that can add value.
AI is a big trend I see coming.
Why Should D2C Businesses Consider AI?
Big brands have been using AI for years, and it is only getting more powerful—and more accessible. From data intelligence to dynamic ad targeting, AI in marketing will boost acquisition and customer satisfaction.
How Can You Leverage AI For Your D2C Business?
AI takes on many forms.
- You can build an e-commerce AI chatbot that recommends products, delivers content, and answers questions in real time.
- AI can help improve your marketing funnel to generate better leads, reducing customer service requests.
- Google uses AI through dynamic ads and automated bidding to deliver the best ad for each search at the best price.
Using Data Analytics to Boost AI For D2C
D2C companies collect lots of customer data on preferences, locations, buyer intent, etc.
AI uses this data to calculate acquisition costs, project sales, automate reporting, and upsell. Google Analytics 4 will give more companies access to powerful data they can use. AI also helps you personalize customer experiences to deliver timely communications they would expect.
One thing to keep in mind is privacy. Make sure you use AI tools that are transparent about their data security and processes.
Conclusion: What’s Next For AI?
AI is just getting started and the possibilities are endless. Whether you are a large or small D2C brand, AI can be the secret weapon you need to stay competitive.
Personalization is a Necessity for Brands
Privacy updates, emerging tech tools, and an ongoing pandemic—oh my! 2021 was pretty intense. So where do brands go from here? Ecommerce is still the name of the game, and personalization is the way to win it.
The truth is, the current environment makes it more important than ever for customers to feel valued by your brand. In fact, they’re quickly growing to expect some level of personalization from brands they shop with (there’s a reason 63% of consumers will stop buying from you if you use poor personalization tactics).
While personalizing your shopping experience to individual users can quickly create a lot of data and technology to manage, there are a few easy ways to start on your own site. The first step is figuring out how you’re going to do it.
There are a lot of great tools out there to help you gather zero-party data. You can try:
- Incentivizing customers to complete a quiz
- Encouraging email or text sign-ups
- Tracking what channels users arrive at your site on
- Encouraging customers to create an account
- Asking customers to share personal information when they leave a review (hair type, skin type, etc)
From there, make sure the data you’re collecting isn’t just sitting on the shelf. Use it to make the shopping experience more engaging for each individual customer. Here are three ways to do that:
- Product recommendations: showing users a product based on their past purchases, demographic, browsing history, or acquisition source is an easy way to further personalize the shopping experience.
- Chatbots: these are quickly becoming a digital sales assistant—they’re not just for customer service anymore. Use them to help users answer product questions and discover new items.
- Send tailored content and offers: is a product they purchased a couple months ago on sale? Let them know! Are you launching a new line that complements something they’ve looked at previously? Send them a text to tell them about it!
The time to collect data and hop on the personalization train is now. Without learning how to engage with customers in meaningful ways, you’ll miss out on the opportunity while your competition is already nurturing long-term relationships with them.
3D Commerce is the Future of Online Selling
3D Commerce, augmented reality, and virtual reality are going to keep growing.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were major impacts in spending habits, overall sales, and in-store shopping trends. Many brands found success in incorporating these more unique, detailed visual elements into the online selling systems.
These kinds of adjustments allow customers to view products in a way most similar to that real in-person shopping experience, without the same risks. Businesses have seen the benefit of allowing consumers to have this kind of information available at their fingertips to ease decision-making from home.
The trend is not tied to the current global climate either. Now that consumers have utilized this technology and understand it, it is important to continue to invest in this way to drive sales. Many consumers have adapted entirely to online shopping and decision making and it will likely stay that way even as time moves forward.
Giving shoppers at home the most similar resources that you can to in-store experiences will continue to drive sales!
Retail Bounces Back, But DTC Customer Expectations Change The Game
As in-store retail rebounds in a recovering world, direct-to-consumer customer experiences set a new standard for merchant omnichannel strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused an over 30% growth in eCommerce sales, but as the world adjusts to the new normal, traditional in-store shopping is making its comeback. Analysts are finding that it’s safe to say customers aren’t giving up their trips to the big box stores. With in-store purchases projected to comprise 75.5% of worldwide retail sales by 2025, they remain a crucial piece of the commerce puzzle.
Furthermore, there is still a large segment that admits preferring to purchase goods in-store. According to Shopify’s The Future of Commerce Report, 81% of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. prefer to shop in store to discover new products, and more than 50% say in-store browsing is a way to disconnect from the digital world.
This does not, however, mean the implications of the direct-to-consumer shopping experience are taking the backseat. Customers of all age groups have learned how to shop online and buy the things they need in new and convenient ways. In many regards, the pandemic’s digital acceleration has opened the eyes of consumers to new and enticing shopping experiences they would not have discovered otherwise.
Now, what does this mean for merchants?
To simplify it: brands need to keep up with the Joneses. Businesses in all verticals are considering what the implications of omnichannel customer experiences mean for their model.
“Not only have brands enhanced their digital commerce capabilities through tech stack and operational improvements, but consumers will expect new shopping experience and convenience factors to exist seamlessly between online and in-store.” - Dax Young, Director of Strategy, The Stable
This includes elements ranging from personalization, data collection, and customer support. As with any omnichannel experience, customers should be able to receive the same branded and delightful experience whether shopping in-store or online. While eCommerce and DTC is still growing, translating in-store shopping into innovative digital experiences (or vice-versa!) will continue to be a priority for growing brands.
To address these challenges and opportunities, The Stable, a commerce agency that connects brands and consumers across all channels, works with our brand partners in both the retail and direct-to-consumer sectors in order to devise holistic strategies that will create beautiful customer experiences both in and off the web. Our commerce experts build and execute strategies focused on acquiring customers, creating immersive experiences, and scaling brands.
As eCommerce merchants continue finalizing their roadmaps for the coming years, it’s important to consider these factors that will help them invest in the right areas of their business and build omnichannel experiences that will both acquire and retain customers.
The Influx of The Micro-Influencers
Millions of fans. Trendy dances. Viral posts. These are the influencers that we’ve come to know and love. But they’ve become celebrities in their own right - making their cost to companies somewhat unobtainable as they pursue creating brands of their own. So who are the next in line to make us fall in love with products? The Micro-Influencer.
These are people who are known for their passion in a particular subject, but are not exactly celebrities. Their knowledge is their hook, and people like you and I follow them because they add value to our own interests. Think about the yoga instructor or the mommy-blogger who you relate to. You take their advice because they are relatable experts and would only suggest things that have to do with their expertise. So if they say try this new yoga mat, you’re more likely to do so because you trust them. And so should brands.
Micro-influencers may never reach everyone, but they are more likely to get those who do follow them to purchase what they promote simply because people trust them more. They don’t have to be polished. They don’t have to have a giant personality or following. They just need to be passionate creators of content that shares expertise in a topic.
Brands win because it’s more affordable to use these influencers. Consumers win because they get exposed to even more great products that support their passion from people they trust. And the micro-influencer wins because they get rewarded for talking about the subjects they are experts in. So if retailers really want to break through, leave the celebrity influencer behind and lean into the smaller ones that actually love what they do.
Social Impact is Driving the Future of Commerce
In recent years we have seen that buyer behavior is shifting and consumers have begun making purchase decisions based on their values. Looking ahead, socially conscious shopping is going to continue growing as more consumers look beyond price and product differentiation and consider factors such as societal and environmental impact when shopping.
The name of the retail game is brand trust. 40% of consumers will no longer buy from brands because they don’t trust the company, even if they love the products. As the competition for eCommerce and direct-to-consumer brands grows, consumers aren’t afraid to switch brands to support one that shares their same values instead.
So what does this mean for your brand? It means that integrating a social impact solution for your business is no longer a nice-to-have— today’s socially conscious consumers are expecting it. Not only can a social impact strategy help you build stronger brand trust amongst consumers, it’s profitable too. 71% of Millennials are willing to pay more for a product if they know that some of the proceeds benefit a charitable cause.
To get started on your social impact journey, here are three tactics that brands can utilize to get the ball rolling:
- Identify a cause that resonates with your brand values. What do you believe in? What causes do you support? It’s important to identify a cause that makes sense for your brand and is something that your company can get excited about.
- Establish a game plan of how your brand can support that cause. Whether it’s through charitable donations, volunteer time, or advocacy, consumers want to see brands taking action to make a change. Actions speak louder than words!
- Spread the word! The best way to get your customers involved is through storytelling and sharing your social impact journey. You can easily incorporate social impact into your current marketing strategy by informing customers of your efforts through social media, email, on-site marketing, and even paid advertising.
As brands explore how they can implement social impact into their business, it’s crucial to be authentic in their efforts. Consumers are often weary of brands’ impact on society and 75% of Gen Z consumers will do research to see if a company is being honest when it takes a stand on societal issues.
The needs of society are ever-growing and consumers are increasingly looking to brands to be the ones to stand up for change. To stand out against the growing competition and build a community of advocates, brands are going to need to invest in a social impact strategy and make it a focus of their business.
And remember, it’s okay to take small steps to begin building your strategy. Authenticity will win every time, so there’s no need to compromise value for speed— the important thing is to get started.
We hope these tips and predictions are a valuable resource to help your eCommerce business build better online experiences and grow in the ever adapting world of commerce!