A good website was once considered essential for start-ups to sell direct-to-consumer (D2C) and lay the groundwork for bricks and mortar stores. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was a turbulent time for retail, with many brands, big and small, having to fast adapt their online presence.
Online shopping is certainly ingrained within our retail landscape, but as consumers were suddenly unable or unwilling to shop in-store – or fearing empty shelves if they did – D2C selling became less of a nice-to-have and more of an essential.
While family-run restaurants were putting together cook-at-home kits and independent stores were starting to make local deliveries, even the big brands, including Heinz, Graze and Red Bull, also had to re-think strategies if they wanted to retain customer loyalty.
A brand loyalty survey from Yotpo found that the number of consumers who’d be willing to spend more on their preferred brand, even if a cheaper option was available, blew up from 30.8% in 2019 to 50.9% in 2020. As brands could no longer rely on customer loyalty among the supermarket aisles, it was time to go direct.
While Shopify may be a relatively new player in the online game – having launched its mobile app in 2010 – that hasn’t stopped the platform being used by over 1.58 million businesses. The big players among them include brands as diverse as Kylie Cosmetics, Simba and Alessi.
Food & drinks retailers had to create a space for customers to mindfully choose them, and offer a smoother, more desirable online experience than one they might have in store. Going online means no queues to worry about, no panic about forgetting your mask, or empty shelves (in theory, of course). However, there’s also no in-person assistance if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Whether it’s a tin of beans or a box of tea, your online space should take your customer to a happy place. Propeller helped MWell launch a suite of products on a new site, built on Shopify Plus, that worked to offer an engaging user experience as well as an educational element with the addition of a bespoke quiz to guide customers to the right product for them. Alongside prioritising clear, concise copywriting, products were grouped into easy-to-navigate categories with calming colours and layouts which could easily put the customer in mind of a quiet morning browsing in Whole Foods.
It would be easy for a brand as large and loved as Heinz to be complacent, but it made the D2C website a joy for the user, with clear, consistent, and instantly recognisable branding. Information is readily available without bombarding the customer and subtle invites to stay on the website includes recipe suggestions on every product page – who could resist finding out if there’s more to be done with that bottle of red sauce other than popping it on your chips? It’s worth noting that Heinz’ first-ever e-commerce site was launched in just three weeks.
Heinz is proof that even established brands can benefit from an online refresh. Propeller took on the challenge to launch a brand-new, online store for iconic British tea company Twinings, powered by Shopify. It needed to be clear, simple to use and with a stronger focus on health benefits for D2C customers, as well as selling B2B. This process of creating a unique store that would offer every customer a suitably pleasing e-commerce experience involved the migration of over 700 products to Shopify Plus.
The Toronto-based beverage company, Molson Coors faced massive disruption when bars, restaurants and retailers had to close during the pandemic. With traditional sales methods on hold, it had to adapt to become a D2C seller, and with Shopify, did so in just 10 days. Not only did sales grow by around 188% each month – a great example of how Shopify is able to scale on demand with a brand – local delivery was also implemented to Toronto customers.
As one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms out there, Shopify is a low-budget, user-friendly storefront with exceptional features to make the customer journey as great as it can be. Essentially, if a customer has gone to the trouble of seeking your brand, it becomes a responsibility to anticipate their needs. This includes comprehensive product descriptions and information as well as a healthy mix of product and lifestyle imagery to welcome customers in.
Of course, it’s difficult to assess the growth scale of online shopping or how people would’ve been buying if there hadn’t been a global pandemic. However, it’s certain that it was building on an ever-growing D2C trend, and the sooner brands get on board, the better.