A darling of the direct-to-consumer world is finally going public. Casper filed its long-awaited S-1 on Friday, almost a year after rumors first broke that the mattress brand had hired underwriters.
As more DTC companies face cultural growing pains, Lola's co-founders are trying to build a culture that supports all of its employees.
Customer service workers at direct-to-consumer startups are increasingly speaking out about being overworked and feeling undervalued. Here an employee who does customer service work at a startup candidly describes what her workday is like.
As CAC costs continue to rise, DTC brands may begin to feel the stress of business reality. The question remains: what comes next for businesses that grew online and are expected to scale beyond $50 million. While some may be able to build solid omnichannel businesses, others may be in the midst of a reckoning.
For years, direct-to-consumer brands have relied on Facebook and Instagram advertising to acquire new customers rapidly. This year, they tried to wean themselves off of it. Rather than putting all of their eggs in one basket, more DTC brands see acquiring customers in places other than Facebook as key to building a profitable, sustainable business.
In order to better manage returns over the holidays, all retailers are looking at how they can give customers more cost-effective ways to exchange and send back items. But it's particularly a challenge for direct-to-consumer startups, many of whom at most have a handful of physical stores that customers can return products to.
More brands are seeking out analog ways to reach out to potential customers. Namely, phone calls and texts. While this may seem like a simple way to make direct contact with a person, it's often seen as intrusive and annoying. So why is this kind of outreach having such a moment?
Typically, the path to opening a permanent physical store for older DTC brands like Casper and Glossier looked like this: open a few pop-up stores in the cities where most of your customers are, make sure that they're stacked with highly Instagrammable displays and events, and use those pop-ups as a training ground for opening up your own physical retail stores. But even pop-ups that only run for a few months can be expensive. So, many younger brands are trying to strike partnerships with other DTC brands to display product in their stores for a limited period of time, or partner with companies outside of retail to display product or host events
There's a rising supply of direct-to-consumer brands eager to hand over money to agencies to help them with their Facebook marketing. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, we speak to a former marketer who cycled through several agencies -- ultimately landing at one that focused mostly on direct-to-consumer brands -- before going freelance.
While other retailers like Target and Walmart have consolidated the number of apps they offer in recent years, Nike has centered its app strategy around building a handful of apps to serve specifics audiences. There's Nike's main app, Nike+, to which Nike has added more features in recent years to make it easier to shop in-store. SNKRS targets sneakerheads with limited edition product drops, while Nike Train Club and Nike Run Club are marketed towards fitness fanatics who want an app to help them manage their workouts. In total, Nike has more than 170 million users across its family of apps.
There are so many DTC cookware brands it's hard to keep them straight. Now, these players are growing and trying to stay alive by expanding product lines and inking retail partnerships. The latest example is Material, which is now partnering with the furniture brand West Elm.
Direct-to-consumer brands like to trumpet the fact that they have more access to customer data than traditional brands. Now, as they grow and add more products, they're also looking to launch loyalty programs that give them better insight into how their customers behave compared to traditional loyalty programs. Mizzen+Main, which sells mens dress shirts and pants, is launching a new loyalty program on Tuesday that it hopes will give the company more insight into when exactly its customers are looking to shop.
When handbag brand Dagne Dover launched in 2012, its products were only available for sale through its own website. But today, shoppers can find Dagne Dover bags for sale on Nordstrom's website, in Stitch Fix boxes, in select Apple stores, as well as some Equinox gyms. While Dagne Dover started as a direct-to-consumer brand, wholesale now accounts for just under 20% of its revenue. Founder and CEO Melissa Mash wants to keep it that way.
Shopify is largely considered the go-to solution for DTC e-commerce architecture. But some say the enterprise solutions are lacking. And other digitally native brands trying to scale their businesses have had to get creative to use the platform to their advantage.
As shoppers' email inboxes and Instagram stories have become cluttered with ads from direct-to-consumer brands urging them to get 20% off their new rug or sleepwear collection, newer brands are in search of new places to talk to customers where they aren't yet sick of hearing from brands. One method of communication that's starting to become more popular: text messaging.
A growing number of health and beauty brands are turning to cloud-based systems that can handle customer, financial and inventory data across all processes, from production to payment.
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