HomeKnow-HowD2C Startup Guide: Growing your online storefront (Sponsored)

D2C Startup Guide: Growing your online storefront (Sponsored)

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of a new phenomenon – direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing – and it’s now defining the online shopping experience across customer segments. But just how do you execute it? 

Along with Freshworks, we find out. 

As a consumer, we now live in a world where getting the goods and services we want is possible after just a couple of clicks on our phone or laptop. We don’t normally have to even speak to anyone, yet are able to connect with the brand we want instantaneously. For businesses, this expectation is a hard one to meet – but one that needs to be met. 

The D2C space is getting more and more competitive and it’s getting bigger and bigger by the day – expected to hit $175 billion by 2023. Connecting with consumers successfully via a D2C model can be a game changer for SMEs if it’s done right.

So, with the guidance of Freshworks, we investigate how its done, exploring the four pillars of a successful strategy:

  1. Attract the right customer
  2. Connect the dots 
  3. Personalize engagement
  4. Provide world-class support

By the way: Freshworks has developed a marketing automation software, Freshmarketer, which can prove indispensable in scaling your D2C experience. Check out Freshworks for Startups program, where you can get up to $10,000 in credits across products including Freshmarketer.

Attract the right customers

Customer service still pays off, that’s a given that isn’t changing. It’s reported that 73% of shoppers say a good customer journey influences their purchasing decisions, while 86% are willing to pay more for a good experience. The customer is king, as they say, and a successful D2C strategy needs to take a customer-first approach. 

Attracting the right customers starts with understanding who your ideal customer is with a comprehensive picture of the target persona. 

With an overview of the customer persona, you can set about sharing laser-focused content for your customers and meet their needs and demands head-on. Part of the process will be to segment your target audience (think about the demographics, their purchase history and preference, spending power and funnel stage). Once the audience is segmented, you can set about tailoring targeted and relevant messages. 

Once you know who the audience is you need to understand their pain points, so you know you’re tapping into their needs and addressing their challenges. This will bring consumers to the brand. Understanding a customer’s needs can come from analytics, support tickets and social listening. 

Our top tip for getting to know the customers? Go multichannel. Learning about consumers and being able to communicate with them over a multitude of touchpoints has been a proven driver of success in the D2C space. Doing so allows you to reach your targeted buyers at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. 

Connect the dots

Now you know the consumer, you know what they want and why, they need to know how your brand can solve their problem. This is where the problem-solution balance tups the other way. 

Once a shopper lands on your site, your priority is to convert them into a customer. When you don’t focus on pushing conversions, you lose out to competitors and reduce the chance of a repeat purchase – and it’s particularly important for first-time customers. 

Central to this is having a seamless purchase flow in place. One that keeps consumers engaged and actively avoids cart abandonments. Cart abandonment rates sit at around 70%. So only 30% of shoppers that add items to their cart make it to checkout. Using SMS prompts or email reminders about abandoned products is a great incentive – and can even be built up by adding discounts and offers. 

Alternatively, you might suggest complementary products to go with the items they’ve already bought. As a bonus, this can also increase your average Order value (AOV) and customer lifetime value (CLTV). 

The key here is to be personal. And being personal requires data. 

To send highly personalized messages, you need data from multiple places, including purchase history, personal information, and browsing behavior. And this is wherea CRM shines.

In this way, you can keep your customer engaged and support them throughout the purchase cycle. Being multichannel is also vital at this point, meaning you can contact and support your buyer on the platform that suits them – whether it be SMS, Whatsapp, social media, or an on-site chatbot. 

Enhance engagement 

Enhancing engagement is all about how you can leverage that customer you just won over. Getting a consumer to make a first-time purchase is a great feat. But what you really want is that they come back for me and, better yet, that they go and tell their friends and families. Look at any successful D2C brand and you’ll notice they have a loyal fanbase that continues to go back time and time again. 

Nurturing and serving customers who have already bought from you is a cost-effective way to drive sales, boost brand awareness, and increase revenue. Tackling common customer questions even before a customer feels the need to ask them, for example, is crucial in easing hesitations. It will also ensure the customer makes it all the way to checkout. 

It’s reported that returning customers spend 67% more than new customers, having overcome any potential hesitations and hurdles to buying. So, personalization news to go beyond getting that first ‘buy now’ click. If you want people to come back, you must tap into their unique wants and needs and make your online storefront memorable

Use data to gather information about a customer-or collect attributes from reviews and their customer profile-to automatically send relevant product suggestions. Different ideas that can get you started include:

  • Replenishment reminders
  • Personalized incentives 
  • Create an online community

World-class support

Getting your customers to make that first purchase, supporting them through the process, overcoming any obstacles, and getting them to come back isn’t the end of the D2C funnel. Returning customers will still have problems they need help solving. Retaining these consumers and building a truly loyal and long-lasting base requires constant engagement and being there when and where needed to address queries and concerns. 

This needs to be done with instant support. 

The support you provide will ultimately be driven by the needs of your customers, but it will need to span multiple channels to align with each individual customer’s preferences. Instant support means that customers can still be captured when they are in buy mode, preventing that all too familiar cart abandonment we looked at earlier. 

Implementing instant customer support across multiple channels may entail options like chatbots and two-way SMS conversations, conversational marketing, proactive messaging, multilingual support, and proactively keeping the communication going to build trust and familiarity. 

Taking these steps makes all the difference in creating a reputation for world-class customer support. It’s what Lebanese-based startup BASMA did when they signed up to Freshworks, and they’ve not looked back since. 

BASMA: Redefining digital health with Freshworks

Digital healthcare platform BASMA is redefining the orthodontics support experience with a chain of digitally-equipped clinics to offer faster and more precise treatments through its licensed partners. Co-founder and CEO, Cherif Massoud, shared how they created a delightful customer experience with the help of Freshworks: 

Curating a seamless online experience has become an absolute necessity to stay ahead of your competition in the D2C space. With a multichannel solution, you can seize the opportunity to narrate your story, create an impact, and build direct connections with your customers. Bolster your D2C e-commerce business with an end-to-end marketing solution that can help you attract, engage and nurture visitors, time and again.

Freshworks is helping startups and SMEs across Europe to optimize their D2C strategy, providing the tools and software needed to operate an efficient multi-channel strategy, optimize data-driven insights in consumers, and have everything all pulled into one, easy-to-use and comprehensive CRM. 

Ready to scale your online storefront with Freshmarketer, a marketing automation software by Freshworks? Check out the Freshworks for Startups program, where you can get up to $10,000 in credits across products built for sales, marketing, IT, and support teams.

This is on top of:

  • 1:1 guidance from an expert team
  • A dedicated consultant every step of the way
  • Access to the wider Freshworks startup mentorship community

Explore the game-changing help now

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Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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