DTC Era

How ceramics brand East Fork transitioned to a pre-sale only model

2020 was the year East Fork ceramics planned to become profitable. Now, that's likely no longer on the table, but the company is using a new model to better handle its balance sheet: pre-sales. Now, new product lines will all be for sale before they're manufactured, as a way to get capital in as early as possible.

Latest Stories

  • MAY 01, 2020

    ‘Reminded me to be more human than ever’: DTC founders face leadership strains as crisis drags on

    For many direct-to-consumer founders, it's been six weeks of extreme highs and lows -- some companies have recorded simultaneously some of their best and worst sales days within those same time periods. But even companies that have reported record sales haven't been immune from having to lay employees off. As a result, many DTC founders are finding themselves having to navigate situations that they never have been before, and are having to learn new ways of leading.

  • MAY 01, 2020

    How wine seller Winc is building out its digital business to acquire new customers

    Longevity in the coming year will require “re-imagining at home consumption,” said COO Brian Smith, with restaurants and hospitality down at the moment. Here are some takeaways about how the wine brand has strategized in this current economic climate.

  • APR 29, 2020

    How Rothy’s created a coalition of DTC brands to help with the PPE shortage

    Personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and face shields are in high demand. Many retail companies today see an opportunity in both donating PPE to medical groups who are running low on critical supplies, and sellng it to customers in need. At the beginning of April, direct-to-consumer footwear brand Rothy's announced that it was launching a group called the Open Innovation Coalition to help companies work together to solve the challenges they are facing in trying to manufacture this equipment.

  • APR 27, 2020

    Once a branding and customer service tool, startups now see SMS as a growing commerce engine

    Like other delivery-related trends, text-to-order may finally see mainstream adoption. "Every brand will have a website to feature products and phone numbers for customer service and transactions,” Iris Nova's Zak Normandin said.

  • APR 24, 2020

    Lower advertising costs present a double-edged sword for DTC brands

    In some ways, it's starting to feel like the early days of the direct-to-consumer boom all over again. A startup's website is once again its most important sales channel, as stores remain closed. Startups are having to operate with as small of a team as possible. And Facebook is once again a cheap place to advertise. Over the past couple of years, the constant refrain has been that DTC startups need to rely less on acquiring customers through Facebook. As more companies started advertising on the platform, Facebook advertising costs started to rise. Now, as more companies are dramatically slashing their advertising budgets in the wake of the coronavirus, Facebook is becoming less crowded.

  • APR 24, 2020

    RSE Ventures’ Matt Higgins: How DTC brands should approach fundraising right now

    "Focus on storytelling right now," said Higgins. “DTC is predicated on having a one-to-one interaction," with the customer that can't be emulated if there is a middleman.

  • APR 21, 2020

    Rory is running its first TV commercial as telehealth is having a moment

    As more people are considering trying telehealth for the first time, Ro is moving forward with marketing and product expansion plans to introduce its women's focused-brand, Rory to new customers. Last week, Rory ran its first-ever TV ad, and this week launched a new product offering, a customized prescription skincare treatment. Rob Schutz, chief growth officer at Ro, said that the company has been "shipping more product than ever before" over the last month. While he declined to share overall growth numbers for Ro, he said that Google search traffic across its three brands -- Roman, Rory and Zero -- was up 30% between March and April.

  • APR 17, 2020

    Looking ahead, DTC brands start scenario planning for store re-openings

    Right now, direct-to-consumer startups have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and nowhere is that more evident than within their brick-and-mortar divisions. Most of the executives I spoke with this week said that they don't anticipate being able to re-open their stores until the summer. "I think people are preparing models [in which stores] will open as early as July and as late as October," said Logan Langberg, principal at Imaginary Ventures, which has invested in Camp and Everlane. But it's absolutely critical that when stores re-open, DTC brands are ready.

  • APR 15, 2020

    Riding Peloton’s coattails, at-home fitness startups are seeing a spike

    This quarantine period could prove to be a winning factor in the virtual fitness category. Startups in the space, including Mirror, Tonal among others, are doubling down on the timely trend by introducing new digital products.

  • APR 14, 2020

    ‘Pause the strategy’: How coronavirus halted the DTC omnichannel dream

    For DTC brands, this was the year to reach profitability and expand beyond online. Now, no one can go outside and most sales have plummeted. This changes the strategy, especially for companies that pinned growth on new retail opportunities. How to proceed, however, is unclear.

  • APR 10, 2020

    Retailing during a crisis: How to handle fulfillment and manage supply chains

    At Modern Retail's first Plus Talks, WellPath CEO Colin Darretta talked about how he's retooled his DTC wellness brand. He provided tips and insights about how to prepare a supply chain during a global downturn, as well as the business trends he's looking toward.

  • APR 10, 2020

    For DTC brands, the year of profitability will have to wait

    A month ago, I was talking to the founder of a one-year-old direct-to-consumer startup who was out fundraising. The founder told me it was a weird time to be fundraising. The coronavirus outbreak was just starting in the U.S, and some investors were already starting to get hesitant about deploying capital. Additionally, many of the investors the founder was meeting with were looking for companies that could display a surefire path to profitability, but without sacrificing high growth rates. In the month since then, things have only gotten weirder. Months ago, steps that were being billed as smart and necessary in order for an e-commerce company to become profitable, like expanding wholesale partnerships and opening their retail stores, have now turned into logistical nightmares as most stores remain closed.

  • JUL 09, 2020
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    Advertisers’ survey: What’s holding back your ad performance?

    Advertisers, from DTCs scrapping for share in a crackling at-home beauty market to seasoned retailers leaning into the quarantined consumer’s e-commerce surge, what’s changing about your campaign KPIs? How are you using data to make choices and effectively budget across channels? What’s working, what’s broken and how will you fix it? Take this survey and get the full results plus a $5 Starbucks gift card.

Modern Retail Virtual Forum
Aug 10–Aug 11, 2020

At the Modern Retail Virtual Forum, we’ll bring together senior retail marketers online to discuss the challenges they’re facing and the solutions they’re seeking in the era of smarter retail.

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