For thousands of years, sales were made through bartering and trading. There was no such thing as a Super Walmart, and a Target was something you aimed at. Everyone either grew their own food and made their own homewares, or they bought their goods directly from the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. This is how commerce was done for most of mankind’s history. It was more or less of a direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model.
Then, a drastic shift in commerce began in the early 1900s in the United States. The first “supermarket” prototype was opened, and from then on, the way products were bought and sold changed forever… or did it?
We are now in the e-commerce era. And with e-commerce, has come a return of the DTC business model. Thanks to online shopping, retailers no longer need a middleman such as a supermarket to sell their goods. All they need is a good fulfillment and shipping solution to streamline the process between a customer’s online order and the delivery of the product.
This model does simplify the process in some ways, but DTC companies still face many challenges. One of these challenges, in particular, is customer retention.
DTC brands often specialize in niche products. This is great for ensuring certain customers will purchase. However, the downfall of such a specific corner of the market is that customer growth is capped. There are only so many people who want left-hand specific kitchen utensils.
This is why retention is so important. If your DTC business is able to retain its existing customers, you will continue to receive recurring revenue, and your business will still be able to grow.
How Do I Retain Customers?
There are two key elements you have to consider when it comes to retaining customers in your e-commerce DTC business. These elements are 1) fulfillment and 2 )shipping.
If you are able to efficiently and cost-effectively fulfill and ship your orders, your customers will be much more likely to stay loyal to your business. They will know that you are reliable and therefore trust your brand.
One of the challenges with e-commerce businesses is that they do not have the same convenience as brick-and-mortar stores. Though online shopping is more popular than ever, people are also more obsessed with instant gratification than ever. Consumers want their products delivered yesterday. Because e-commerce stores have to rely on shipping, they inherently do not have the ability to match the instant gratification of in-store retailers. This means that DTC e-commerce businesses must do whatever they can to be as “instant” as possible.
This process begins with fulfillment. Fulfillment can pose a challenge, especially if your business includes a time-sensitive product such as a subscription box. Obviously, the quicker a box can be fulfilled, the sooner it can be shipped, and the more “instant” it will be. However, subscription boxes should never be done hastily and haphazardly. Your customers’ unboxing experience is important to them which means it’s important to you. Subscription box fulfillment should be careful and precise as well as efficient.
This can be hard to do if you are trying to fulfill in-house. In cases such as this, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider such as Smart Parcel 24/7 can be immensely helpful. We have plenty of space to safely store your inventory as well as trained staff, perfectly positioned to fulfill your orders quickly and efficiently, allowing them to be shipped right on time.
Shipping is just as important as fulfillment. It is the main factor in determining how fast your product arrives at your customer’s doorstep. For this reason, your shipping plan should be thoroughly thought-out.
There are a few different ways in which products can be shipped. Deciding whether to use air travel or ocean shipments, what carrier to use and how to efficiently package your products can pose a challenge, to say the least. Once again, partnering with a third-party logistics provider might be just what your DTC business needs in order to ensure your customers receive your product quickly. After all, that might be the deciding factor in whether or not they purchase from you again.
Benefits of a DTC-3PL Partnership
If customer retention is what you seek, Spart Parcel 24/7 can help. We have warehouses situated across the United States, ensuring fulfillment will take place near your customers, allowing for faster shipping times. Our highly-trained employees and state-of the art machinery fulfill your orders to your exact specifications, labels them, and sends your products on their merry way.
We do not just send your products via one carrier and hope for the best. We will specially select a route for your products, using our vast network of hundreds of mail carriers across the globe. This way, your customers will retain their good opinion of your brand, and you will retain your customers. It’s a kind of a win-win.