If we look at the most successful D2C brands, they all have one thing in common; they’ve built memorable and distinctive brand identities that make them stand out from their competitors, even within saturated markets. These identities are woven through every part of the customer experience.
How? Because D2C brands have deep insight into what their customers want. By mining customer data from every stage of the shopping journey, they’ve created unique brand experiences that bring their customers back time and time again:
As brands who built their followings through digital channels, D2Cs learned early on about the importance of making the brand experience shareable.
In the pre-internet era, a parcel arriving on your customer’s doorstep would have been seen by one household at most. But in the age of social media, it can be shared and appreciated by millions. This has made the unboxing experience one of the most powerful branding and marketing strategies in ecommerce, allowing some D2Cs to gain iconic status.
Glossier has its bright pink bubble wrap and collectible stickers. Dollar shave has its no-frills cardboard boxes with quirky messaging. Everlane prioritizes an eco-friendly approach with its paper envelopes. These unboxing experiences have helped cement these brands’ status as disruptors in their fields – and they continue to reap the rewards.
If you had a dollar for every loyalty program that exists in retail, you’d be very rich. But the majority of programs offer few benefits to brands or their customers.
The reason is simple. Most programs adopt what we at Whiplash call a ‘punchcard mentality’. Customers get stuck in an endless cycle of earning and redeeming points, meaning there’s little incentive for them to support your brand over the long term.
D2C brands have created some of the most successful loyalty programs because they focus on relationship building. Lingerie brand ThirdLove has gained praise for its tiered loyalty program that rewards customers with a variety of non-transactional benefits, such as early access to sales and limited-edition products. This helps to drive customer satisfaction and encourages repeat purchasing behavior.
The key to building affinity with your customers is to understand that they don’t come to your brand with the same needs. It’s your job to figure out what these pain points are, and how to address them through your offerings.
‘Segmentation’ sounds like a very technical process, but most brands are doing it all the time. If customers have to spend $50 to access free shipping, you’re segmenting customers based on their shopping activity and rewarding those exhibiting desirable behaviors.
But there are some D2Cs who’ve made segmentation their entire value proposition. Stitch Fix hooks in customers through its bespoke styling service that requires customers to complete a style quiz, allowing stylists can hand-pick the perfect garments. This deep level of segmentation enables Stitch Fix to put the philosophy of ‘no two customers are alike’ into practice.
So, how can you achieve this level of control over your own brand experience?
Outsourcing fulfillment comes with a huge list of benefits for your business. In addition to time and labor savings, having a 3PL onside enables you to weather peaks and troughs in consumer demand much more effectively. With their infrastructure and knowledge at your disposal, you can transform your fulfillment process from a burden into a competitive advantage that drives customer loyalty and satisfaction.
But there’s something that holds many D2Cs back from partnering with 3PLs; the fear of losing control over the brand experience.
Visibility over the end-to-end customer journey is one of the biggest competitive advantages that have D2Cs have over their retail/wholesale counterparts. Instead of relying on participating retailers to showcase your brand and products in the right way, D2C brands have a direct line to their customers via their own selling channels. This gives them the unparalleled ability to build a consistent brand identity and voice across multiple touchpoints – from a customer’s initial entry into their website to the moment of delivery.
In sum, the appeal of independent online retailers is that products don’t look as though they’ve rolled off a giant assembly line. By having a hand in every step of the fulfillment process, D2Cs inspire brand trust because customers feel as though they know exactly what they’re getting.
This can make the prospect of outsourcing the post-purchase experience a nerve-wracking one for merchants. They want to free up time to focus on growing their business, but not at the cost of losing what makes their brand unique.
But what if there was a way to achieve this same level of flexibility and responsiveness, while still taking advantage of your fulfillment partner’s expertise?
Spoiler: You can. It’s called Order Rules.
Order Rules are a part of the Whiplash interface that gives you extensive customization capabilities during the fulfillment process. Rules will trigger when certain criteria are present in a customer order. This could be specific SKUs, order statuses, shipping methods, and/or destinations. Order Rules will override the regular fulfillment workflow, directing warehouse operators to use alternative methods as specified by the Rule.
Order Rules are divided into two types: Packing and Routing. Using these two kinds of rules, you have an unprecedented amount of control and flexibility over the customer experience.
Packing Rules enable you to specify the use of different packaging or adding promotional items to an order during the packing process. These will appear as ‘recommendations’ to warehouse operators through the Whiplash interface. You can designate any product as ‘promotional’ or ‘packaging’ for a Packing Rule, which can be done going into the ‘Details’ tab on each item.
Routing Rules are triggered when you create an order or add/remove items from an order. A Routing Rule is designed to give you a higher level of control over the shipping of certain SKUs or orders bound for specific destinations. For example, you may decide that seasonal SKUs require a faster shipping method to take advantage of short-term demand for certain items.
Building memorable and consistent brand experiences helps to facilitate much deeper customer engagement with your brand. With the power of Whiplash Order Rules, your business can launch all kinds of engaging initiatives to help you attract and retain customers:
Influencer marketing is set to grow to $13.8 billion in 2021, and it’s not hard to see why. In comparison with traditional advertising, influencer marketing is highly effective as a form of Word of Mouth marketing (WoM). Consumers are far more likely to trust what another human has to say about a brand than the brand itself, especially when that person has a profile as a trustworthy reviewer of products within that space.
When you’re working with an influencer, a great first impression is vital. Assembling an eye-catching influencer kit that offers a great unboxing experience is key to getting influencers excited and engaged in your brand.
With Order Rules, you can designate a Packing Rule that states what packaging/assembly is required for a specific SKU (i.e. a multi-item influencer kit which has been given its own barcode). This ensures a seamless fulfillment process and a positive brand experience for influencers.
Launching a limited-edition or seasonal product range is a brilliant way to drum up excitement in your offerings. Exclusivity is always a powerful drawcard in retail – especially when customers get access to a memorable experience as well as a product.
For example, creating a special unboxing experience for a holiday gift set is an attractive value proposition. Not only is this a convenient way for consumers to fulfill their gifting obligations; it also comes ready-made for that spectacular reveal.
With Whiplash Order Rules, it couldn’t be easier to designate special packaging for your seasonal SKUs; simply set up the appropriate rule with the packaging you want, and you’re good to go.
No matter how carefully you vet your suppliers, problems during manufacturing can always take place and affect certain batches of a product. This can spell major difficulties for your customer care efforts. Customers aren’t going to be pleased to receive a defective product. When badly managed, situations like this can result in customers leaving your brand in droves.
Trying to recall/halt a batch of orders when an issue becomes apparent is time-consuming and stressful without the right technology to give you full visibility.
With Whiplash, you can take control of the situation in just a few clicks. Simply put in place an Order Rule to pause all orders containing a specific SKU, allowing you to replace items or check them for defects. It really is that easy!
Everyone loves a freebie or two with their orders – especially when it’s been carefully selected to complement their purchase. It’s this kind of attention to detail that wins customer loyalty and brings them back again and again.
However, including personalized free samples in your orders is a major challenge for your fulfillment strategy. A manual process of choosing samples is impractical and adds a lot of time to the fulfillment process. Using Order Rules, you can set which items should be added to orders containing which SKUS, allowing you to select relevant offerings that tempt your customers into making future purchases.
Although they’re not always thought of as a crucial part of the post-purchase experience, order confirmation emails and packing slips are major touchpoints that build on the relationships you’re establishing with your customer. Brand consistency is vital throughout the end-to-end experience, and post-purchase communications are a common place for this to fall.
By combining Whiplash’s Order Rules with our custom templates feature, you can set up specific packing slips or emails to be used for different kinds of orders. Have a certain message for your influencer kits, or for loyalty members who have early access to your latest product. The options are limitless!
As an ecommerce brand, there will be times where speed is of the essence even more than usual. For example, you might want to get SKUs out to customers while the product is still relevant (think trying to boost sales of umbrellas during a particularly wet week) or to reward your most loyal, high-spending customers. In these cases, being able to segment customers with faster shipping options is an extremely valuable tool.
Order Rules enable you to seamlessly designate rapid shipping for certain SKUs or delivery destinations, without needing to manually make changes to every order.
But don’t just take our word for it; our customers have used Order Rules to revolutionize their fulfillment processes and increase customer satisfaction.
For luxury fashion marketplace Moda Operandi, a stellar customer experience is a must. Whether it’s expedited delivery or special packaging for couture garments, Moda has leveraged the power of Order Rules to meet the expectations of their high-end clientele:
“The Whiplash platform has been the ultimate trump card for Moda Operandi. The ability to integrate so seamlessly with our online store has given us a level of flexibility and control that we’ve never had before,” says Soares. “By setting custom Order Rules for packing and routing, we can make sure that our most valued customers receive the service they expect – every time.”