So you have an e-commerce business.
You’re passionate about your product, excited to get it to your customers and grow your business.
But,like so many merchants in 2020, you’re wary of intense competition. Almost anything a consumer could possibly want is available at the tap of a finger through Prime. All the while, more new entrepreneurs are entering the space,creating an almost limitless supply of digital DTC merchants.
With millions of e-commerce brands in the market (yes, actually millions), how can you standout?
Stop Thinking About Optimizing For Transactions—StartBuilding Lasting Relationships With Your Customers
In an increasingly competitive landscape, the emerging DTC winners will be those that establish strong brands that make lasting impressions.
There are many opportunities for DTC merchants to strengthen their brand, but onecore guiding principle, if followed, will give you an unfair advantage over the competition. Even better, it’s not rocket science and you don’t have to be a brand marketing guru to do it. 👀
Focus On Making Every Customer Interaction Unique andMemorable
Thismeans every checkout flow, email confirmation, tracking update, unboxingexperience, and even return process. Each is an opportunity to stand out andbuild a deeper relationship between your brand and customers.
Askyourself, at each of these touch points, what are you doing to stand out? Areyou providing extra value?
Ifyou could swap your name and logo out for another and all else is the same,you’re missing out. Big time. But fear not, this means you have a bigopportunity to make more sales, gain more loyal repeat customers, and gain aleg up on your competition.
Alrighty.Let’s take a look at how you can get started. But, real quick, before lookingat some examples, it’s important to remember that these are just someopportunities. There are nearly endless opportunities to delight yourcustomers and gain a leg up. Be creative!
Tracking With Tunes 🎶
Thisexample comes from our friends at VYNL. They have one of the best and most uniquetracking emails in the industry. VYNL is a subscription service for records.Their secret sauce: in their tracking emails, they send customers apersonalized link to a Spotify playlist with music from their incoming order.
Whyit works (and why we love it): In a world where people are buying even themost basic goods like batteries, cleaning supplies, and even groceries online,tracking emails are a dime a dozen. VNYL elevates their brand by offeringsomething completely unique and valuable for their customers. But, where VYNLreally scores bonus points is the lasting impact. As their customers open upthese playlists and listen to them during regular routines, VYNL’s brand staystop of mind on a regular basis.
They’re All Just Cardboard Boxes, Right? 📦
Yes.And, no. Most of us know the experience of opening up a new box of shoes.Normally, there are logos and some kind of branding on the top. You open the lid,grab your new shoes, throw them on, and forget about the box. You’ve probablydone this so many times that the experiences blend together, and while you maylove a certain pair of shoes, the unboxing experiences all tend to blendtogether.
Thisisn’t the case for Allbirds. Their boxes fold outwards to exposeadditional branding and two separate compartments. If you’ve ever purchased apair, you probably distinctly remember the unboxing experience. It stands outas a unique experience and elevates All Birds as a brand above what consumershave come to expect.
Whyit works (and why we love it): As consumers, we often have sky-highexpectations. In most cases, brands struggle to simply meet our expectations.But, real magical and memorable moments happen when brands exceed ourexpectations. Fair play to Allbirds for capturing this magic in the unboxingexperience.
Okay.If you’re thinking that these examples are expensive and hard to do, you’re notwrong. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the same results. Thecore to this kind of success is delivering unique and memorable experiences.
Thereare plenty of opportunities to do this without a large investment orsignificant technical skills.
Here’san example that costs less than $0.01 per shipment. Literally one cent. Andrealistically, that might be rounding up.
All You Need is…a Slip of Paper 🖨
Yes,it can be that simple. Last year, admittedly after showing up quite a bit in mysocial feeds, I bought a bottle of hot sauce from TRUFF.All was straightforward enough: a black box with minimal branding enclosed in alarger brown one.
Fora week or so, I put it on almost everything. I was hooked. And when my bottleran dry, I knew I wanted to restock. Only this time, I figured I should stockup and buy a few more bottles.
Soa few days later, I had a larger brown box with 3 smaller black boxes inside,each containing a bottle of hot sauce. The process went the same way. I opened thefirst bottle, and after inhaling it over a few days, I was ready for the secondbottle.
Onlythis time, something different happened.
Iopened my second black box to find a piece of paper with a note from TRUFF.They had recognized me as a repeat customer and wanted to thank me for mybusiness.
Whyit works (and why we love it): This happened over 18 months ago (yes, I hadto check my inbox to confirm exactly how far back) and I still vividly rememberopening my hot sauce and finding the surprise note. In a digital age, wherebrands are constantly vying for our attention, lasting impressions are rare.
Here’s Another Secret: And You Can Do This One For Free
Thinkabout an item description for a sweatshirt. It has materials, fit, maybe origincountry. But in most cases, you could swap one description for another acrossthousands of merchants and you may not notice the difference.
Thisisn’t the case with our friends at Eterno. They go the extra mile to make theirdescriptions more impactful.
Whyit works (and why we love it): Despite having bought more than my fairshare of sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, and other outwear, this productdescription stuck with me months after making the purchase. It’s also a greatexample of how you can give a little extra punch to your brand without spendingany money.
So,next time you’re thinking about a description for a new item in your store,keep this in mind. Focus on making your voice unique. The goal should be thatwhen a visitor engages, they’re left with a memorable impression.
Inspired? Time To Figure Out What’s Right For YourBrand
Thereis no one size fits all solution. Yet, there are nearly infinite opportunitiesfor you to forge stronger relationships with your customers. Every touchpointis a new opportunity. It starts from the first moment a new visitor hits yoursite to the point they are a loyal repeat customer. Here are some prompts tohelp get you started.
Firstvisit: Does your design stand out? Are they left with a memorableimpression?
Itemview: How do you describe your items? Do your descriptions look like acopy-paste from another merchant? Or, are they truly unique and memorable?
Checkout:Are your customers left feeling confident about next steps? Are you doinganything to increase their excitement and anticipation? Maybe linking tohelpful content.
Orderconfirmation and tracking: Are your emails unique and memorable? Or do theylook like any other merchant? Think about adding something extra – fun content,a style guide, a fun fact about your industry or brand.
Packagingand unboxing: Are you delivering a magical moment or just another brownbox? A great way to add emphasis is with custom packaging, assuming it’s inyour budget. But, there are many ways to add extra personality that can be assimple as a quick and quirky thank you note.
Follow-upand customer retention: So you have an active customer, but what are youdoing to keep your brand top of mind and retain them? This could be a rewardsprogram, a special experience for repeat purchasers, or an email newsletterwith valuable content.
Ifyou’re still reading, congratulations—you have a leg up on your competition.And, thanks!
Thegood news (we hope) is that you’re excited to add a little more personality toyour brand interactions.