How Brands are Leveraging Direct-to-Consumer Sales and Deliveries to Secure Customer Loyalty

Brands which once sold primarily through other channels are embracing D2C (direct to consumer) sales and deliveries in order to own the customer experience and introduce profitable new business models.

Ecommerce resellers have helped promote hundreds of thousands of consumer brands, but this growth does not come without consequences. If you are using a reseller to promote your products, chances are that they own much of the brand recognition and certainly all of your customer experience and data. For this reason, more and more brands are bypassing traditional online resellers and launching direct to consumer sales and delivery models, both online and through new retail stores.

These D2C sales tactics help businesses craft a branded experience for their customers, but more importantly, they present consumer brands with new business models that can create customers for life.

According to Epsilon research, eight in ten people prefer to buy from brands that offer a personalized experience. Tech giants Microsoft and Apple understand this, which is one reason why both companies opened retail stores long after their brands became famous.

When a consumer walks into an Apple store, they enter into a living advertisement for the brand: the product, the atmosphere of the store, their interaction with the store representative, and the speed of transactions, are all part of the company’s branding efforts. That time in-store is an opportunity to create a branded customer experience which outlasts the customer’s initial purchase.

Another way to extend that personalization is through branded deliveries.

Direct to consumer sales give your brand a recognizable face; branded deliveries bring that familiar face into the customer’s home.

Successful brands understand how important it is to control brand image and messaging across the entire customer journey, from order through delivery and all the way to returns. Managing D2C deliveries as well as sales give brands the power to tell their story, and only their story, to the customer. That way, customers will connect their terrific branded delivery fulfillment to the brand, and not to the reseller.

For this reason, Panera bread, which currently receives 1.4 million digital orders every week, decided to not risk having bad delivery experiences boomeranging on them, and launched its own fleet of more than 10,000 drivers who deliver high quality healthy food with a fully branded and controlled experience.

Control the customer experience and data

In addition to winning the loyalty of your customers, taking responsibility for the delivery supply chain gives brands control over the customer experience.

If a 3PL delivery provider shows up at your door with bad body odor or, worse yet, a rude attitude, chances are you’ll blame the brand – even if it was not their driver. Brands which orchestrate the delivery fulfillment end to end can ensure the customer experience reflects the brand’s values.

Let’s not overlook the critical importance of retaining customer data. If you outsource the delivery process to a service, you’re losing valuable customer feedback and data. How often does that customer order? Which delivery fleet has the best record of on-time deliveries?

Never forget: brands which control the delivery process also control the profitable data-driven insights behind it.

Building new business models from branded deliveries

Owning their own delivery operations also allows brands to expand delivery options and offer additional services that boost their bottom line.

Here are a couple of examples on how this works in the real world:

On-demand deliveries

In 1998, Nespresso launched direct online ordering, with free shipping on minimum orders of capsules. Today, customers in many cities can get their coffee capsules delivered to a variety of different locations – including their home, office, or a local delivery locker – with the click of a button.

The constant factor in this service is the company’s smart choice to launch on-demand, branded deliveries that give customers the flexibility of choosing where and when they want their purchases delivered.

Also, by selling directly to the consumer, the brand maintains a continuous, holistic branded experience, turning delivery from a function of the purchase into an integral part of their brand messaging.

Apple is another great example of branding the delivery experience. They take advantage of their growing retail footprint to provide customers the traditional click-and-collect option of buying online and picking it up in a local store, as well as express and free next-day delivery in some locations.

When you order a product on-demand which arrives on time, delivered by a smiling provider wearing branded clothes, you’ll not only be happy with that brand – you’re going to be loyal it, period.

White Glove deliveries and services

Since brand loyalty starts and ends with great customer service, it makes sense that brands are moving toward utilizing direct-to-customer sales as an opportunity to create new business through services.

For example: It’s seven in the morning, you’re half awake, and you open the kitchen cupboard to discover you ran out of coffee. Chaos ensues.

Fast-forward to 2019, when coffee junkies now avoid this nightmare scenario through coffee subscription services.

Or take the example of Microsoft, which used its direct-to-customer expansion to provide white glove deliveries and installation services in addition to sales of consumer electronics.

In the world of grocery, UK grocery Waitrose offers a wine-tasting service in select locations, transforming the brand from its humble grocery origins into a boutique white glove service provider.

Every one of these companies found ways of increasing revenue from branded D2C deliveries.

The benefits of branded deliveries are tremendous, and extend across multiple business models. Whether or not brands decide to open more brick-and-mortar locations, taking the brand experience to the customer’s door and providing new, branded D2C delivery services is a guaranteed way to create strong brand loyalty that will translate to more sales over the lifetime of the customer.

Want to learn more? Watch our on-demand webinar on how top retailers create differentiation in last mile delivery.

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