2020 Digital Shelf Virtual Summit Session

Joe Bencar headshot
Joe Bencar
Marketing Director

Our CEO, Josh Walsh, was invited to take part in a conversation with Salsify as part of their Digital Shelf Institute, the virtual alternative to their annual e-commerce conference.

Scott Sommers, the VP of Insights & Innovation at Shurtech (the makers of Duck Tape), also joined in the conversation with Josh. Shurtech has been a client of The Refinery for many years, and Salsify is a key tool we use to execute their direct-to-consumer strategy.

The topic of the discussion was how to use brand stories to build emotional connections with customers and the different strategies that can be used to sell more products directly to consumers, avoiding expensive profit margin cuts that large online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart charge.

The discussion led to some valuable insights regarding D2C ecommerce strategies, including these key points.

Amazon and Walmart Turn Your Products into Commodities

Selling products on massive online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart come at a higher cost than just the commissions they collect. Although products listed on these sites normally see plenty of traffic, these marketplaces are designed around making sales. Sure, this may sound great at first, but when you take a deeper look at the overall situation, a big issue becomes evident. A majority of users that make purchases are doing so based on things like price or shipping time/costs. There is no branding strategy presented to your customers, and this has a huge effect on repeat purchases, loyalty, and being able to build personal connections with your customers. Basically, your customers don’t have a memorable experience. Besides visuals and text, all the product pages on these marketplace websites look the same so your products blend in to the thousands of others being sold.

In addition to treating your products as commodities, these marketplaces take a huge chunk of your profit margin. Now you must sell a much higher volume of products to make the same amount of profit compared to just selling your products directly to your customers.

Increase Margins by Understanding Your Customer’s Emotions

If you are able to build an emotional connection with your customers, they will become loyal to your brand and likely return to make additional purchases in the future. People want to do business with companies that offer value for their money and that they can personally relate to. This is why storytelling and making an emotional connection with your audience, beyond just giving them a transactional experience, is so important. Telling stories and understanding the customer’s motivation while making a purchase will allow them to connect with your brand through similar experiences they’ve had. Once they’ve made a purchase and your product is just what they hoped for, you’ve gained a loyal customer who now has a sense of belonging to your brand’s community.

How Duck Tape Avoids Being a Commodity

There are many different players in the DIY tape market that Duck Tape has to compete with, from established brands to generic ones. This is why Scott Sommers stresses the importance of building personal connections with Duck Tape customers. One way Shurtech is able to do this through their Stuck at Prom contest, as well as other crafting projects, unique tape patterns and craft markets. The Stuck at Prom contest rewards scholarships to the male and female students that receive the highest number of peer votes for their prom outfits. The catch? Their outfits have to be made out of Duck Tape!

Get People Talking About Your Brand on Social Channels

People commonly refer to or tag brands on social media for a few main reasons. The first and most obvious is that they had a negative experience with a brand or product, and they feel the need to let others know about what happened. Not all customer posts are negative, though. Brand advocates will post about the brands they love because they feel like they’re part of a “community”, and they want to introduce those brands to their friends and family. So, the question is, how can brands motivate these customers to initiate these conversations?

Duck Brand’s Stuck at Prom contest is an excellent example of using a creative and unique idea to fuel social sharing and conversations. The contest itself gets a lot of traction from other crafting blogs and social influencers, and since the contestants need votes from their peers to win, their entries are shared regularly across all their social accounts.

Learn About the Journey Your Customers are on

By selling directly to your consumers, you gain valuable insights that you would not have otherwise. As you analyze these insights and data, you can start to connect the dots and see the journey your customers are on. Understanding your customer’s journey gives you the opportunity to present them with content that “speaks” to them on a personal level. This is the beginning of building brand advocacy.

How D2C Behavioral Insights can Replace Focus Group Testing

Although marketplaces do an excellent job at creating transactions, sellers forfeit vital data about their customers compared to selling directly to them through their own website. Modern ecommerce websites and online tracking tools allow website owners to collect and analyze data about their customer’s behaviors, preferences and buying habits. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart keep this information for their own use.

Data insights from user behavior can be analyzed to better understand the wants and needs of customers, allowing brands to develop a more personalized and better overall experience.

In order to get the full benefit from the conversation between Josh, Scott and Salsify, we encourage you to watch the video.

View the article and video from Salsify here