You know selling online comes with unique challenges. What’s more, selling Direct to Consumer (D2C) has its own specific set of difficulties. Are you sure you’re set up to solve them?
If you’re struggling to present a robust, delightful customer experience, you should know:
You’re not alone.
“Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.”Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (source)
The key to D2C success is delivering product content more compelling than on retailers’ product pages.
This means delivering authenticity.
While you understand why this is important, it often feels impossible to know if your D2C site provides a truly authentic customer experience.
Also, let’s not forget, product content isn’t just product information like descriptions of features, detailed benefits, and specifications.
Product content is everything you use to sell your products, including digital assets, like images, videos, and CAD drawings. All this needs to be managed.
And the challenges of D2C operations don’t stop there.
But you can rest easy, because there is a solution: Product Information Management (PIM).
“Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks (source)
In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into the core challenges you’re facing running your D2C operation. Understanding these challenges, and how PIM solves them, are the keys to increasing your D2C sales revenue and growing market share today.
D2C or DTC?
Regardless of which abbreviation you use, D2C or DTC, they refer to the exact same thing: the direct to consumer advertising and sales model. Because you already know what those are, this blog isn’t going to focus on explanation.
Instead, because clarity is key to comprehension, it’s important to note why this blog uses D2C, not DTC.
First, DTC already means to many other things. Wikipedia’s DTC disambiguation page lists 27 companies, industries, methodologies, and even people already referred to as “DTC” (source). Second, D2C mirrors acronyms already in common use, such as B2B and B2C.
These reasons would seem to be enough to reject DTC in favor of D2C.
What are D2C challenges?
Think about why you decided to create a D2C webstore in the first place. What does the D2C model afford you?
D2C allows you to control every aspect of your brand.
These days, sales success is nearly synonymous with the word “niche.” Leveraging your niche allows you to speak as an authority to a very specific kind of customer. This empowers your site with authenticity that drives conversions.
So, because you want to laser-focus your product content on a particular kind of customer, the D2C model allows you to do this. But there are challenges:
Challenge #1: You own content creation.
With a D2C site, you’re now responsible for making sure your product pages are maintained as well or better than your retailer pages. You need to bring together detailed information about your products with presentation based on detailed information about your customers.
With regard to D2C product information, your users create content and move it into the ecommerce site you’re using. This means manually assigning attributes to each product and populating them with the corresponding pieces of information.
How can you ensure completeness and quality?
Optimized product pages have to be 100% up-to-date with the latest information and images to convert customers. One way PIM approaches this problem is by automatically assigning each product a completeness score. Your PIM, once configured to include all products and their attributes, will display a score for each product.
This way, you can always focus effort where it’s needed most.
Running a D2C site makes it possible for you to provide your visitors with a tailored and unique experience. An experience that is different than anything they will receive from a retailer site selling a wide variety of different brands.
PIM makes it possible to manage as much robust content as you’d like and syndicate it all to your site. Telling your product and brand story with whatever content you’d like is the result.
Use this freedom to your advantage to make your D2C site’s product pages as robust and compelling as possible.
Challenge #2: You manage and update content.
Success in D2C means constant focus on continuous improvement. Ecommerce platforms are designed specifically to display product information and digital assets to create aesthetically pleasing product pages. This also means these platforms aren’t created to manage and update product content.
Adding attributes, features, benefits, descriptions, images, videos, and anything else necessary to improve content is very nearly impossible. But with PIM, you simply update and push out new information wherever it’s missing or otherwise necessary for improvement.
Also, ask yourself: how many products do we sell?
If you were selling one product, managing and updating it would be simple. But you many not even know how many products you sell, so managing content means bulk-updating. Again, ecommerce platforms aren’t built to handle this specific task, but PIM is.
PIM connects products to their attributes at implementation.
This means you start from a robust digital foundation you use time and again when updating product information. Instead of updating one product attribute at a time, you simply make the desired change, and push it out everywhere at once.
Challenge #3: Your customers need a reason to buy directly from you.
Amazon, easily the largest online retailer in the world, held 43.5% of the U.S. online retail market in 2017 (source). It’s also 2.5 times bigger than its next competitor, JD.com (source), and 4.5 times bigger than its closest US competitor, eBay (source).
Why shouldn’t your customers buy your products from Amazon?
The answer is obvious: Amazon’s success means they sell just about everything. But if all I want is a drink of water, why use a firehose? You can fine-tune and customize your D2C site in all the ways you never could with an Amazon product page.
Amazon’s sheer size means delivering an authentic, tailored customer experience through their website is virtually impossible. Amazon’s product pages are standardized, so the only way you can make your products stand out is with the content you give them. Ultimately, Amazon sees sales as sales, be they of your products or your competitors.
Also, people who buy products from Amazon are less likely to focus on the fact they’re buying your products. The branding and presentation of Amazon’s pages mean customers focus instead on buying from Amazon. In the short run, this might not make a difference. But building customer loyalty should be the goal of everyone selling online.
A PIM driven D2C site boosts brand identity.
This is turn increases conversions, revenue, and the kind of long term customer loyalty that’s the dream of every business owner selling online.
PIM allows you full control over your product information and digital assets, so product pages can be optimized to deliver the maximum amount of value to your customers. PIM does this all while conforming precisely to your brand message.
Challenge #4: Where does your D2C site sit among all your sales channels?
Another undeniable advantage to running a D2C site is simply having one more place to showcase your products. There are somewhere between 12 and 24 million ecommerce sites online today. Of those, approximately 650,000 generate over $1,000 a year in revenue (source).
(Read everything you need to know about leveraging a PIM to drive revenue for your multi-storefront operation in the blog featured below.)
Don’t replace retailers with your D2C site.
Because the Internet already offers so many online retail sites, having more sites improves your visibility. Ultimately, it’s a numbers game, the more sites you’ve got, the more likely at least one of them will rank high on Google. Ranking high on Google is very likely to boost sales revenue.
However, replacing one or more retailer sites with a new D2C site is a bad idea. Even if your new D2C is perfectly designed, it’ll take awhile to rank on Google. Your retailer sites should already be ranking, bringing in customers, and converting them. Don’t turn off a channel that’s already driving revenue.
PIM simplifies expanding across new channels, so rolling out a D2C site to compliment your existing operation requires less time and effort.
The bottom line is, having more sites is one way to increase market share and become more profitable. But don’t forget, there are several reasons why your D2C site needs to be unique.
Google’s algorithm hates duplicate content.
Copying and pasting product content from your retailer sites to your D2C site won’t work. Because your retailer sites are already established, copying them means Google is more likely to penalize you with lower rankings.
The single greatest benefit of a D2C site is having total control over content.
Simply copying existing sites is a waste, when you can instead sharpen and customize content to drive conversions. Ultimately, your D2C site needs to be a completely unique experience of your brand message.
Delighting customers with a compelling presentation composed of unique product content is what PIM was designed to do. PIM allows you to automatically update and push specific pieces of product information and digital assets to a particular site’s product pages.
PIM also simplifies growing market share by giving you the ability to build out new sites and channels on a robustly implemented digital foundation. This makes hyper-targeting the product content for your D2C site far easier than with Excel spreadsheets.
Challenge #5: Teams have to collaborate.
Manufacturers typically have just one person managing all product information and digital assets. However, it’s very unlikely that one person is the only one making updates and other changes.
Instead, they receive content from multiple people and departments and have to organize everything to populate on product pages correctly. Even for companies with flowing internal communication and strong team cohesion, this is a massive undertaking.
This only gets more difficult as you roll out more products across more channels and retail sites.
PIM simplifies this process dramatically, providing companies with a single platform where all product information and images can be managed centrally. This ultimately means individuals make changes to a single source of truth, rather than holding onto old, inaccurate information and images.
Challenge #6: Content has to be correct.
Everyone knows that people working in an organization have their own ways of doing things. Unfortunately, in the ecommerce space, this means people often have specific go-to descriptions and images they rely on. Because each person is working in their own environment, maintaining a single source of truth becomes difficult, if not impossible.
The result is product content with mistakes you thought were fixed.
You authorized updates to fix mistakes, but how do you know someone really made those changes? Was the change made in the one space you pointed out or everywhere it exists across all your channels?
Further, how do you know your teams aren’t using the descriptions and data they’ve come to rely on? If they don’t want to take the time to search through your system to find an updated picture or product specification sheet, they won’t.
PIM solves this critical problem with workflow functionality.
Workflow tracks each change made by user and according to permission level. Any changes made by a user with the highest level of permission are automatically approved. Changes others make go up to the user designated to approve them.
Further logging and tracking of all changes ensures you can skip trying to figure out where the mistakes are coming from and simply not approve them. This ensures you, the decision-maker, are the one who is ultimately in charge of all changes to your D2C website content.
(Read everything you need to know about how PIM workflow functionality increases productivity in the blog featured below.)
Challenge #7: Content has to be up-to-date.
One of the most time-intensive challenges of ecommerce is keeping your product pages up-to-date when improvements or attribute enhancements change products. Depending upon the kind and amount of products you sell, this can be an easily-planned-for annual update, or a constant project.
However, if you’re pulling data from PIM, it becomes possible to set up a feed to automatically push out new information as you update. PIM makes it impossible to miss an update because of your hectic work schedule or simply because someone forgets.
With PIM, updates simply can’t be missed.
Challenge #8: Which ecommerce platform are you using?
Last but not least, it doesn’t matter which ecommerce platform you’re working with. You can configure PIM to automatically modify product information and digital assets by the specific requirements of each ecommerce platform, sales channel, as well as your D2C site.
Finally, it should be clear by now that solving these eight challenges with PIM is a sure fire way to drive revenue and grow market share.
Bring in PIM for a D2C Win
Retailers and wholesalers bring in lots of visitors, but without a D2C site to compliment these there will be no space where you’re 100% in control. But you’ve already got a D2C site, right?
Great content drives an excellent user experience.
Maximizing revenue becomes a much easier goal to fulfill with total control of your brand and messaging. How people see your products comes directly from creating and publishing your own high quality content. So you want to create tons of high quality content for your product pages and continuously push it out across platforms.
Manufacturers need a PIM solution with three core functionalities.
PIM centralizes product content, because knowing where product information and assets are empowers you to create product pages that delight customers and convert them. Also, PIM optimizes product content, so you can be sure product information and assets are accurate and up-to-date. Finally, PIM syndicates product content, because product pages have to be populated with the content you’ve optimized.
Now that you know how PIM drives revenue by optimizing your D2C operation, click here to see what Catsy can do for you today.