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Compelling Visual Experiences Are Imperative for DTC E-Commerce

When brands like you adopt a direct–to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce approach with no involvement of retailers or marketplaces, you gain direct and timely insight into evolving shopping behaviors. DTC e-commerce is a business model where merchants sell their products and services directly to their customers online, bypassing intermediaries such as wholesalers and distributors. Accordingly, you can accommodate shoppers’ preferences by continually adjusting your product offering and interspersing the shopping journey with moments of excitement and intrigue. Opportunities abound for you to cultivate engaging customer relationships.

Key to embracing DTC is an awareness of its growth potential, as reflected by eye-opening statistics like these, as reported by eMarketer:

Besides being an e-commerce model, DTC is a sales strategy where manufacturers and consumer packaged goods brands sell their products directly to customers. This approach encompasses more than just online transactions, involving direct engagement and fulfillment to end customers.

To keep up with DTC’s exponential growth, besides staying alert to your competitors’ moves for gaining market share, be sure to also look into the shopping experiences those companies are iterating, especially their techniques of promoting merchandise and of simplifying and speeding up the checkout process.

This post describes a few significant, DTC-centric trends and suggests ways to build and deliver stellar and unique visual experiences for e-commerce.

Most likely, given the fine-tuning and adaptations you’ve made over time based on shopper feedback, the products you initially offered for sale look very different today. You might even have branched out into brick-and-mortar retail through either partnerships with other sellers or your own physical store.

In one of the eMarketer articles I referred to above are examples of other brands, one of them a Cloudinary customer, diversifying the way in which to reach consumers. eMarketer also reports, “[To] evolve along with customer needs, footwear brand Allbirds and eyewear provider Warby Parker have brick-and-mortar stores to bring customers offline. Quip partners with existing brick-and-mortars, like Target, to sell products. Many D2Cs have also expanded beyond their initial hero offerings: Allbirds now sells apparel, and men’s razor company Harry’s has deodorant available.”

Managing customer lifetime value is an essential aspect of DTC profitability. Acquiring a new customer in the DTC model can be up to five times as costly as retaining an existing customer, highlighting the importance of customer retention strategies alongside acquisition.

Instead of in-store shopping, consumers might desire a revamped, more streamlined, dynamic online experience, which you can build with optimized visuals.

Reality is, the younger generation is spending most of their time on mobile devices. In fact, more than 25% of Millennials are on three or more devices at once, a whopping 130% increase year over year. Since online diversification means that you must deliver captivating visual experiences to all touchpoints (channels, devices, browsers), a prerequisite is to maintain and optimize visual assets for a flawless performance there.

Furthermore, given the mention in a Forrester report that 61% of consumers would share more information with brands as a gesture of appreciation for an immersive shopping experience, consider adding a personalization capability. Such a feature promises to be a two-way win. According to MarketingTech, “personalization based upon the personal preferences or recorded behavior of consumers performed on average three times better than untargeted strategies,” which attests to the fact that shoppers welcome personalization.

Bottom line: The most successful DTC brands this year will be those that make the online experience—and its corresponding visuals—specific to the shopper who is browsing.

Recall the traditional process of launching products or seasonal offering: the heavy lifting and long hours spent in performing the photoshoot, culling through assets, and transforming them into every size and version needed for desktop, mobile, and social. As your brand grows, so does your media workflow, which becomes increasingly complex with multiple teams involved. To continue to deliver optimized images and videos to highly visual, digital channels, you must streamline that workflow. Also, by seeking out effective technologies and capabilities, you can deliver consistent DTC experiences no matter where shoppers interact.

A platform like Cloudinary, replete with robust artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, automates workflows, enabling you to efficiently transform and deliver visuals. Notably, you can do the following with Cloudinary:

  • Auto-crop, auto-tag, and auto-transform media assets, e.g., resize them or remove their backgrounds, saving a load of time and manual effort.
  • Apply content-aware compression or cropping of videos and images through intelligent automation, launching products online in minutes only.
  • Personalize at scale to deliver customized shopping experiences, which often boost conversions.

Take, for example, Reformation, which faced the challenge of optimally delivering images to all viewing devices and solving the issue of choppy videos on its e-commerce site. Shortly after integrating Cloudinary into its media workflow, Reformation was able to deliver high-quality, fast-loading photos and videos for various devices and bandwidths, which has led to a 31% reduction in overall page-load time and a 67% decrease in bounce rates. For more details, see this case study.

You’re by far not alone in having to grapple with media-management challenges for e-commerce. By partnering with Cloudinary to automate the processing of your DTC visuals, you’ll be in good company. Cloudinary’s Media Experience Platform offers use cases that shine a light on how to diversify the shopper experience, complete with optimized and impressive imagery and video. Contact us to learn more.

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