Direct-to-Consumer: Disruption in the Retail Space

Published on May 8, 2021
Last Updated on August 25, 2022

Personalization is built on the idea of creating a sustainable relationship with one’s customers rather than pursuing the sole purpose of making sales. Direct-to-Consumer brands that have a cult-like following, for one, don't compete on price. Instead, they focus on speed, value, and availability to their customers. This translates to creating a presence where their customers are listening and adding value through personalized Direct-to-Consumer service. These Direct-to-Consumer brands also know how to utilize tools, processes, and data that will help make personalized retail experience “spontaneously” happen, which gives them an edge over other businesses. 

Alongside all the data, however, brands must be mindful of one key message: the consumers are human beings. Be sure to treat them that way1.

Today, a lineup of brands is shaking up retail—Direct-to-Consumer companies that create, market, sell, and ship their products without mediators. They are changing consumers’ purchasing behavior or how they buy. In the process, these Direct-to-Consumer brands are crossing from one product line to another, and are radically changing consumer choices. 

These brands also continue to grow and win new customers2. Capitalists are now shifting their attention back to the Direct-to-Consumer space as we slowly, but surely, begin to see what a post-COVID world will look like. While funding to Direct-to-Consumer brands dropped by half in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019, funding increased by 165% to nearly $1.3B in Q1 20213.

direct to consumer d2c
D2C companies sees an increase in Dollar funding for Q1 2021

But what sets these Direct-to-Consumer brands apart from traditional retailers? We'll dissect three broad aspects where the Direct-to-Consumer model sets itself apart when it comes to design, how they launch new products, the retail experience they establish, and their marketing strategy.

  1. Simplicity in product design is a new luxury.

Simplicity can be way more challenging than complexity. One must work hard to streamline ideas to keep them simple. But, as the late Steve Jobs once said, “It's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains4.”

That sense of simplicity rings true for an eco-friendly wool shoe brand, Allbirds. By the time Nike started selling shoes meant for different sports such as basketball, football, golf, among others, Allbirds started off selling only one type of shoe in 2014—a rare find made out of reused bottles, castor bean oil, and cardboard materials that give it a distinct shape, look, and feel, which drove consumers to purchase it. By design, it gave shoe enthusiasts the unique privilege of owning a rare pair of shoes, according to Tim Brown, Allbirds co-founder.

That ethos backed the company’s growth as it raised $100M in Series E-funding in September 2020 at a $1.7B valuation. The company closed its stores in March amid COVID-19, but that didn't stop the release of new running shoes called the "Dasher." Allbirds is navigating further into the apparel section, debuting four different items:

  • T-shirt produced out of discarded crab shells
  • Wool cardigan
  • Wool jumper (a Briticism for a pullover sweater)
  • Wool puffer jacket 

All are made out of merino wool sourced from New Zealand, which can be found in Allbirds's shoes5.

  1. Whenever we think of a product launch, what the audience feels and thinks are indispensable.

When you imagine the things people wait in line for, top of mind may be the new iPhone. You probably don't consider "the new razor." But this was the case made by Harry's, and their primary idea was a waitlist. By creating a buzz online surrounding a better but inexpensive razor, Harry's was able to have customer engagement who desired such products to sign up for the list by sending their email addresses. Furthermore, those who shared the word with their friends and familiar networks would get all sets of bonuses for doing so, from their accessory product lines such as free handles, razor blades, to pre-shave gel.

Acquiring those email addresses was quite an achievement. It indicated customer engagement to purchase, thanks to that notion that one would receive an excellent retail experience with the product, even without trying the product itself. As a result, a hundred thousand people had signed up. 

It also taught the company to start doing remarkable customer improvement work. Sending out free handles and razors to the numerous productive referrers allowed the company to see how people felt about its product before launching it to a broader audience. Harry's made various tweaks to its handles and razors based on what it learned from those freebie winners early on. It is how they build an audience quickly that is vital for product launch6.

  1. Building an end-to-end brand starts with a meaningful human experience.

Avocado Green has a similar story on providing a great end-to-end retail experience. The brand started out by selling one sustainable mattress to cut through the plethora of options within the mattress market. But as the market evolved—or perhaps its customers' choices—the brand eventually ventured into its first furniture line and other product lines7. Despite this expansion, the brand did not lose sight of its deeply seated goal of achieving sustainability, which created a rippling effect in the retail pond, so to speak. They changed the rules of end-to-end retail experience by offering an alternative: for instance, customers who don't wish to purchase animal products can opt for a vegan variant of the mattress that uses a polymerized fire barrier instead of the organic wool component. 

In terms of after-sales service, the company's one-year sleep trial is one of the longest in the retail industry. Once the trial period expires, Avocado Green gives products protection against any unfortunate incidents as a lifetime warranty offer. Freight is free of charge to all 50 states. All of these consider the impact of their decisions on their operators, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment8.  

Create the Same End-to-End Experience–with Us

We are experts in launching products When it comes to helping organizations achieve scale, TaskUs remains a global leader. The combination of headcount, repeatable processes, and tech infrastructure enables us to provide our clients an unmatched competitive advantage. In a hyper-connected, omnichannel world, We believe that success requires digital fluency in the BPO space to attain scaling mastery. We have successfully scaled programs without sacrificing quality.

TaskUs engages with disruptive Direct-to-Consumer brands from the standpoint of its empowered people. We have super Teammates who are very passionate about what they do, which translates into how they support. At TaskUs, the feedback of our Teammates is just as important as revenue and profit. The eNPS enables us to be true to our promise of being a company with a people-first mindset. In Comparably, TaskUs made it to the Top 5% of 1236 similar-sized companies. 91% of TaskUs employees who answered the survey said that they would recommend TaskUs to their friends.

Whether your brand is starting or aiming for the next level, TaskUs's people, alongside technology, are where TaskUs anchored the end-to-end retail experience. 

For instance, the TaskUs Digital CX solution fits within the lifestyle brands. By mirroring the company culture and brand as much as its products and marketing do, TaskUs customized the Digital CX seamlessly. 

It begins with the intent to understand the target customers—who they are, how their distinct personality types prefer to interact, and the important attributes when they interact with customer support. We have a pool of subject matter experts who advise our clients based on existing client data, focus group results, and acquired knowledge from our years of supporting disruptive companies.  

The next step is to create detailed customer journey maps based on what those individual consumer groups value the most. Each touchpoint has a different intent, aligned with each type of customer. For a customer whose primary objective is speed, they take the path that provides a direct answer. If a customer expects white-glove service, the journey requires finesse and personal attention. Our deep CX analysis and multi-channel service solutions allow us to truly listen to customers across channels--gaining deep insight into problem patterns and root causes. We call it "insight as a service." We analyze structured and unstructured data and continuously provide these insights back to our client partners in a perpetual feedback loop. Our teammates frequently team with our clients' product leads to digest these insights and tweak products in real-time.

Based on those journeys, TaskUs, alongside clients, can easily develop a process map for each intended experience. These maps provide:

  • The end-to-end Digital Customer Experience framework for the process
  • The type of content the Teammates would need
  • Teammates’ tailored approach to supporting each customer value

We continue to deliver Ridiculously Good Next-Generation Digital Outsourcing to the most innovative brands in the world. 

Together. You and Us.

Learn more about current Retail and E-commerce trends and how we help companies in this space.

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Aleks Bogdanovski
VP, HiTech
With more than 20 years of leadership experience, Aleks has held executive roles in finance, marketing and incentives, and sales. He has made a mark in driving growth and profitability for a number of world-renowned companies and has formed outstanding client relationships over the years. Joining TaskUs in 2021, Aleks has now has been charged with growing TaskUs’ Technology and Professional Service vertical and his team has already added tech giants to our TaskUs family. As a Certified Outsourcing Professional and a CPA, Aleks gets excited about helping Companies build highly efficient, innovative, and effective solutions that make financial sense and most importantly are Ridiculous opportunities for TaskUs teammates.