It’s a fact that established and even storied businesses face increasing competition from new endeavors already married to 21st digital technologies. Specifically, the traditional wholesale distribution channel with middlemen providing the means, as well as the end, to product placement is quickly being replaced by a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model that promotes stronger customer relationships by offering greater choice and simplicity. Companies still focused on large-scale distributors to offload their products are finding that they are lacking in the critical data that comes with active customer engagement. Turning to a direct-to-consumer model can mean gaining back control of the customer experience and increasing ROI. All companies, those both big and small, can make use of market research strategies to enhance their DTC retail channels. Take a look at three of them:
Do Your Secondary Research
One of the easiest ways for companies to improve performance of any kind is to stay abreast of the trends and shifts occurring in their industry. There are countless resources for businesses looking for information on the events and ideas shaping all kinds of market landscapes. There are also associations and journals specifically geared for DTC retailers. Studying a mix of the two can help your company position itself for improved DTC retail sales. Join your trade’s association(s). Subscribe to its publications. Similarly, look for association and journals specifically geared to the DTC channel, like the National Retail Federation, Retail Info Systems News (RIS News) and Retail Leader. Continuous review of these types of resources will mean that you are fully aware and informed of the changes affecting your industry, as well as the retail world, in general.
Use the Internet
If trade resources are easy, digital ones are cheap. And paired with the fact that it just makes sense to use digital resources in a digital world, it should be a part of your direct-to-consumer retail research! Harness digital intelligence by following social media accounts, tracking your company’s online presence, reviewing online feedback for your product or service and browsing for information on websites. Join Facebook and Twitter so that you can track the ways your consumers are talking about you. Look for candid reviews that your customers post on sites like Yelp, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau and Google My Business. Sign up for alerts that notify you when, and in what ways, consumers mention your company name online. Gather free reports from online resources such as The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), The Balance and www.bizstats.com. These are all free ways to gather valuable data about your company’s standing in the DTC market.
Ask for Feedback
Whatever type of business you have, it makes sense that you check in with your customers. Survey them to see how you are doing. Just because it seems so obvious a strategy doesn’t mean the data gained from it will be, too. Oftentimes, listening to the people to whom you are trying to sell or provide a service leads to surprising and unexpected responses. You can send an email survey after a direct online sale, quickly ask for feedback at a register or develop online bulletin boards or focus groups to talk about new ideas and customer experiences. Each of these techniques will allow your customers to tell you if your efforts to sell directly to them are working.
To learn more ways to compound the benefits of and improve your direct-to-consumer retail channels, contact Communications for Research (CFR). We can help you navigate numerous research strategies in order for you to garner maximum ROI.
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