Social Media Uncertainty Sets the Stage for DTC Selling
Aligned with expanded omnichannel capabilities, brands looking to ramp up efforts to accommodate in-person and online shopping interest can look across a variety of avenues — including social media. A new method of selling, social commerce was the shiny branch of omnichannel that many expected to take off thanks to social media’s advantages of appealing to a much wider and “viral” audience.
While social may have molded shoppers’ interests, its capabilities in the latter half of 2022 took a drastic turn. Along with the growth of fake brand accounts and increased memes, Twitter’s $44 billion buyout caused even its most active users to lessen their engagement. As a result, advertising and selling dipped.
Ongoing uncertainty has surrounded TikTok as well. Despite the success of TikTok’s Commerce Solutions and the company’s plans to formally delve into the e-commerce space, there has been momentum to ban the app in the United States due to security concerns from the FCC and other government departments.
The volatility in this space means that brands already invested in social (or looking to invest) may want to hit pause. The problems surrounding social span beyond confusion on platform longevity: bots and impersonators have infiltrated real accounts, inflammatory content has become common, and performance has slipped. In the meantime, developing a direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel to reduce the impact of outside parties on customer experience may be the quickest path forward.
The Need for a DTC Strategy
As chaos surrounding social media continues to churn, retailers should focus on internal strategies until the dust settles. Selling directly to customers through their own websites ensures that retailers can manage messaging and brand image. Our current landscape is also affected by socioeconomic challenges such as inflation and recession. Ensuring fair and high-quality products, packaging, and transparent pricing makes a world of a difference.
Other Benefits of DTC Selling
The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel expansion means that more than ever, retailers must adapt to consumer purchasing habits. Through a DTC strategy, retailers can touch every point of the customer journey through elevated user experiences. As noted in a recent consumer spending survey, 54 percent of shoppers find e-commerce the preferred and most convenient method of buying, which only instills the need for a superb DTC option in today’s unpredictable market. Through DTC, retailers reap major benefits, including control over messaging, a thorough understanding of customer demographics, broader product assortment, and overall improved customer engagement.
The Customer Impact on DTC
The e-commerce market has always been overcrowded, but with recent changes made by social media platforms, retailers looking to sell online without a middleman must act fast. To build a superior DTC shopping experience, the customer is the best advocate. Brands that want to thrive in the current cutthroat environment must initially reexamine customer relationships and value transparency over everything. Viewing their brand, business and products through their customers’ eyes helps retailers take a step back to examine what is and what isn't working. From there, adjusting to consumer demand for convenience and personalization will fall naturally into place.
Slating DTC Into External Channels
Today’s uncertainty around Twitter and TikTok won’t last forever, but retailers should never expect the attitude and regulations around social media to stay the same. Popularity of platforms will come and go, and new apps will make their way into the social commerce space. As a fail-safe, retailers should develop strategies focused on how their DTC options can be elevated through social — rather than making social its own focused channel. This way, retailers can easily take any new challenges head on.
Ted Rogers is the chief revenue officer at Digital River, an experienced global commerce enabler for established and fast-growing brands.
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Ted Rogers started at Digital River in 2017 and brings a unique perspective to the business, with past roles spanning from marketing to credit and fraud to operations. He served first as vice president and general manager of MyCommerce, then vice president of global expansion and fulfillment operations, and vice president of strategic marketing before being named chief marketing officer in 2020.
Ted took on an expanded role July 2022 when he was appointed Chief Revenue Officer. In this new role, he is responsible for sales, customer success, product, partner management, and all marketing functions.
Ted has an extensive background in ecommerce and marketing management, serving as a marketing executive in the industry for over 20 years. Prior to joining Digital River, he held a variety of leadership roles at FICO and Bluestem Brands, Inc – Fingerhut and PayCheck Direct.