Three Ways that DTC Ecommerce Brands Can Manage Dynamic Growth in Volatile Times

This blog features guest blogger Johannes Panzer, Head of Product Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption across a broad range of economies and industries, many direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce brands saw a simultaneous surge in order volume. While a spike in orders is generally good for business, companies struggled with the sudden flood in demand. As a result, they faced fulfillment higher operating costs, errors, and poor customer reviews.

While the default reaction among fulfillment operations is to add temporary employees to meet demand, companies discovered that this “quick-fix” solution was too costly. They knew that long-term consumer behavior had shifted toward DTC ecommerce and that the higher rate of orders was likely permanent. Market leaders realized that they needed to maximize productivity of existing operations and personnel with the right ecommerce warehouse management system (WMS).

Let’s review three ways that DTC ecommerce brands can delight customers and manage dynamic growth in volatile times.

(1) React Quickly: Scale your Business in Hours, not Months

The pandemic prompted many businesses to fundamentally rethink their go-to-market strategy. Here is one example of a company that was able to thrive by adapting its product line and fulfillment processes.

Midwest Prototyping originally offered rapid prototyping and low-volume 3D production services. Following the onset of COVID-19, Midwest evolved its operations and opened a new facility to build masks for hospitals. By partnering with technology provider Descartes Systems Group, the company rapidly readjusted its fulfillment operations within a week.

Other industries have also had a heavy uptake in order volume. Not only have home and garden products, kitchen utensils, and medical supplies benefited from accelerated demand, but fitness and nutrition products, food, toys, and home office suppliers have seen order volumes soar. While some ecommerce companies anticipated a seasonal peak, volumes rocketed much higher than anticipated and remained there—up to a 100% increase for some brands.

That’s why best-in-class ecommerce warehouse technology is essential for long-term success. The right solution should enable rapid on-boarding for new workers, easily scale, meet the demands for greater volume, and exceed customer expectations of the delivery promise.

(2) Remain Efficient: Grow Sustainably and Leverage Efficient Fulfillment

Smart businesses aim for profitable and sustainable growth. Sigma Beauty, a high-quality make-up and beauty brand, has reported continuous expansion. To manage growth, the company knew it had to move away from manual processes and limited inventory visibility. To handle peak volumes, they turned to an ecommerce warehouse management solution from Descartes.

With this technology in place, their “productivity went through the roof,” according to Jessica Knutson, Senior Operations Manager from Signa Beauty. As a result, they were able to support peaks and grow with confidence.

A dedicated warehouse solution lets DTC brands easily adapt to fluctuating order volume. Leading brands can train employees rapidly, implement new pick routes, and introduce social distancing practices that are likely to remain well into the future.

(3) Stay Accurate and Connected: Digitization and Keeping the Promise to Customers

DTC brands are focusing on data to build trust, increase customer engagement, and ensure that buyers come back. Skatehut.co.uk, a one-stop-shop for skating products in the UK, knows how important data is to make the right business decisions, “We’ve gone from Post-it notes and paperwork to 360-degree visibility of our inventory,” said Mark Johansen-Berg, Owner and CEO from Skatehut.

Another DTC company, Gymshark.com, a fitness and apparel, and accessories brand, knew that data accuracy is a major factor to make customers happy and keep their delivery promise: “At any given time, we know exactly the number of orders we have and what is in stock, avoiding the potential for overselling,” said Chris Perrins, COO from Gymshark.com.

So, how can an ecommerce WMS help to keep the delivery promise? Ecommerce platforms should show available inventory in the storefront to prevent overselling. Real-time order data exchange with ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, and carriers is key to reduce manual effort and potential errors. By digitizing workflows and implementing barcode-based processes, vendors can keep track of and maintain accurate inventory. Ecommerce vendors are also sending automated shipment tracking updates to their customers to reduce “Where’s my order” calls and stay top of mind.

Emerge stronger

Technology itself does not help you to sell more but can facilitate growth and help keep customers happy. Since more people are buying online, it’s time for ecommerce brands to delight their customers and provide an outstanding buying experience for sustainable growth.

Learn more about Descartes warehouse management solutions.

About the Author 

With over 15 years of experience in ecommerce, Johannes Panzer is known as a domain expert in ecommerce fulfillment and logistics. He plays a central role in developing the go-to-market strategy and positioning for Descartes’ ecommerce solutions globally. Johannes has a background in marketing and is experienced in agile project management with several years leading the Descartes product management group in Germany.