DTC eCommerce is attracting many new entrepreneurs due to the lower entry barrier. You don’t need heavy investment when compared to regular business models and the return on investment is much quicker.
In our previous guide, we have talked about What Is DTC eCommerce? Here we discussed a basic understanding of the DTC business model and answered some common questions. And now it’s time for action.
By the end of this article, you’ll know How can you start a DTC eCommerce brand successfully?
You’ll also learn about the resources that you’ll need, the preparation that you’ll have to do, and the tools and services that will help you get started and scale.
So without any more delay let’s get started with the first step.
Pick Your Star Product
When you start a DTC eCommerce brand, you have to understand that most of the work will be on you. Even if you can get yourself a team, it will be you who will manage them and run your business.
So, you must pick the right product for you to sell. But what is the right product? Just make sure that the product is:
- Easily available to you
- You have an understanding of what product is
- Know what is the use case of the product
- Product is easy to store and ship (not compulsory, but it’ll make your work easy)
- Your product has a demand and people will be ready to pay
- Your DTC eCommerce brand can make a difference in customer experience
You can even start a DTC eCommerce brand with just one product. This will make it easy for you to build a brand around it and then maybe you can introduce other products to your customer.
Just like Supply. This DTC brand is known for its high-quality razors and even promotes itself as a “razor-first” brand when it comes to marketing. But over time they have introduced other grooming products as well.
Analyze The Market
This is not just about demand and supply, today it is also about the brand. So it will be a good idea to first understand your competitors.
Here are a few questions that will help you analyze your market before you start a DTC eCommerce brand:
- Is there a competitor that holds the majority of the market share (individual brand)?
- How many competitors are there and what are their USPs?
- Why are people buying from them and how will you stand out?
- How are people buying the product (through website/app or Amazon/Walmart)
- Is your product competitive to attract customers from the established brand?
While we are on the topic of analyzing the market, let us also make sure that our people are interested in the type of product that you are selling. You can use Google trends to see the frequency of searches and have an idea about the demand for the product:
If you would have asked me before, I would have never known that so many people would be interested in LED Shoes, compared to funky socks, rubber socks, or wooden phone cases.
But when you start a DTC eCommerce brand, you also have to understand that searches won’t always reflect on sales. They will only show if or not people are interested in your product or your product category.
Plan Your Sourcing
In case you are the manufacturer of the product, you can skip to the next point which is finding your customers. But in case you are sourcing your products, this is a must-read point for you.
Make sure you find a reliable manufacturer that can ensure consistency, quality, and quality of products. When you are not manufacturing your product, finding a good manufacturer is a very important step to starting a DTC eCommerce brand.
When the orders start to roll in, the last thing you want is to go on a hunt to find a manufacturer that can deliver the same products, with the same quality, pricing, and time.
Also, try to avoid suppliers, DTC eCommerce is about pricing and selling products directly to the customers. The longer your supply chain will be to lower the margin of discount you’ll be able to give to your customers.
Find Your Customers
Where do the majority of your customer spend their time when they are online? This is an important observation that you have to do before you start the DTC eCommerce brand.
When you are setting up your business online, attracting your customers, and selling products through a website or an app you must know how to tell customers about your product.
If you have a good understanding of the product and how is it used, it will be easier to find your customers. Finding your customer is a crucial step to starting a DTC eCommerce brand, so make sure you spend time here.
Test Your Products
Before you invest your capital and time to start a DTC eCommerce brand, I’ll suggest you test out your product. Start with a basic Shopify plan, set up your store, and market your product with a cap.
At this stage, keep things simple and only invest in what is truly necessary to put your product in front of your customers. There are also two ways to approach it:
- Organic Marketing: Share what your product is by posting about it on Social media, different blog posts, etc. This is a cost-effective, long-term, approach where slowly and steadily you focus on attracting customers.
- Paid Marketing: All Social media and search engines (like Google) allow you to run targeted ads. You specify what kind of people will normally buy your products and the platform will show an ad to them. This is a paid and quick approach. Also, it requires a little experience in running online ads.
What should you do? The best approach would be to first put your products in front of your customers to test and see their response. If it’s positive and you see conversion start focusing on organic marketing as well.
To run ads, you can either hire an eCommerce digital marketing agency (if you have a budget) or hire a freelancer from sites like Fiver or Upwork who can help you set up your ad account and campaign.
With a basic ad, a budget tests your product and observes if people would be interested in the product or not. If not, improve on it or start from the first step. If you see positive results, it’s time to focus on the next step.
You can also learn about how to start selling on Shopify Before Your Free Trial Ends, to test your product.
Build A Brand
Once your product and idea are validated by your customers, it’s time to work on building your brand. When you start a DTC eCommerce brand, you have to understand that most of your work is around branding.
What is branding? Branding is about how your customer remembers you and your product. And most of it depends on how you present your products on social media, banners, and product pages.
For example, let’s see the product page of Everlane. Another popular DTC eCommerce brand in the fashion industry.
All the products use a clean and consistent background that makes it easy to see the product. Use high-quality images that reflect quality. Ensures that all the models and their clothes look clean and eye-pleasing. And all this is done through professional eCommerce photo editing.
On the other hand, there are various aspects of branding that one must learn about. I highly recommend you read our guide on Building Branding Strategy For Fashion eCommerce which will help you get insight on how to build a brand.
Listen to your audience. This is one of the most common and useful pieces of advice. When you start a DTC eCommerce brand, you might have no idea what your customer wants and how can you improve. But over time you’ll start learning.
So when that happens experiment with the options. Tweak your pricing to see results, find the best offer that attracts more customers, and work with influencers that drive conversions.
All these and many more are the steps that you can follow to keep your brand relevant.
When you start a DTC eCommerce brand, you might have to do everything by yourself. From sourcing to marketing. But as you start growing, you can start working with other services as well.
Once your effort to start a DTC eCommerce brand shows the result, you can work with various partners to help you grow.
For example, you can hire a Shopify expert to help you build your customized online shop, you can hire an eCommerce marketing agency to market your products, and outsource your product image editing to present your product in the best way possible.
All you need to know is just start.