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12 min read
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Product expertise and customer service: Where DTC brands shine over Amazon

Emily Corke
Emily Corke
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Product expertise and customer service: Where DTC brands shine over Amazon

Think about the last time you made a purchase online. You might have spent a few weeks researching a new laptop for example. You might have started on a website that appears top of you google search for “new laptop” or a brand you have heard of. You navigate your way through a few product pages, comparing each laptop’s descriptions, looking for reviews and then ultimately shipping and delivery options.

You get as far as adding the item to your cart, sure you have explored and evaluated all your options. But then, a moment of doubt creeps in. Are you paying the right price? Is this the right product? Is this the best and most convenient way to get this product? Who is the brand anyway?

The most likely scenario is that you will highlight the name of the product, press “control c” and paste that same name into Amazon’s much more equipped search engine. You see it is slightly cheaper and you have Prime so you purchase it there instead.

According to our latest round of research, you are not alone. 43% of shoppers checked if the item they were about to purchase is available on Amazon and then purchased it there instead. With next-day and same day delivery made so affordable on Amazon, customers have been instantly drawn to the retail giant, especially during the pandemic.

But Amazon’s record-breaking growth has started to show signs of slowing. Despite the sales uplift experienced during the pandemic, the company has been feeling the effects of supply chain shortages. Additionally, it has had to offer wage increases to attract and retain its workforce.

While the growth might be slowing, our research shows that late-stage researchers still lack the confidence to buy from the sites they originally researched the products on. In fact 34% of the customers, we surveyed did not make the purchase on the site they originally researched the products on.

So how can you make good on the changes going on at Amazon and give researchers what they need to stay on your site? In short, customer service and product expertise really sets you apart. Connection is paramount against this retail giant.

Making good on your knowledge and product expertise

According to our research, what gives people the confidence to purchase from an online store is a reputable brand experience (49%), more detailed product specifications (37%), the ability to get recommendations (21%) and guidance (19%) on the site.

Most of the items on that list are related knowledge, first of the products themselves but also of the customer’s problems before and after purchase. Something you as a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand have in abundance. The real question is whether you make it clear to your customers.

First it is product knowledge, customers want to know this product will solve the problem that they have identified and that it is better than any substitution.

To start with, look at your website and investigate where, if at all, you are helping them find the right product. Does your product description give a good enough experience or understanding of the product?

Onsite tech can also help guide a customer to finding the right product. Consumers may be more likely to complete the checkout process if they receive interactive content that allows them to engage and learn more about a product.

You can do this with a guided selling tool. By offering an onsite guided selling tool, you can simulate that in-store experience, giving the relevant advice at the right time to demystify technical products specs of the different choices available.

Imagine being able to use a tool, like our Digital Assistant, to show up on the pages with high traffic and low conversions with the product recommendations or assistance customers need to make their choice. You could ask your customers questions and feed them products in two to three steps instead of pages and pages of search results.

Then it is about demonstrating the after-purchase knowledge like warranties and servicing options. Are you able to showcase that you really know the problems you are solving for the customer now and after they have made the same purchase? Are you able to offer this in the existing package? It is about showcasing the buildings of a relationship not just a transaction.

This is particularly important when you are dealing with industries like consumer electronics and white goods. Amazon will sell the same laptops or cameras. But the DTC brands can shine, not only in helping customers choose the right product, but also in the after-purchase customer service. Your brands have the facilities to do that and with the help of onsite tech, you can spot a researcher, help them find the right laptop and drive them forward with confidence in your brand and your servicing expertise.

When you are competing with the convenience factors that Amazon might offer, you can really shine in removing choice overload and helping your customers come to the right product with confidence that they are getting a good deal. Value for money is important in this dynamic, you should be competitive on price, and you should be demonstrating better than average expertise.

Customer service is more than just a service, it’s a relationship tool

Another way to inspire confidence for your customers is the customer service you offer. DTC brands are the real subject matter experts, and it is important to filter this expertise into the buying journey and then the customer journey after purchase.

This starts with your online experience. One of the main drawcards for Amazon is the convenience of their online experience. From their onsite search function to their check out and delivery with Prime. Your online experience should be flawless in comparison with the added ability to showcase your customer service.

Personalised product recommendations based on browsing history can serve to inspire customers still in the early stages of their research. For example, you could make product recommendations based on similar products others also browsed, helping with their product discovery.  

Once a customer gets closer to a purchase and has added products to their basket, the Digital Assistant can recommend related products as a cross-sell strategy. Recommending products ‘other also bought’ can help to boost average order values and create a seamless experience for your customers.  

This could include servicing options and added warranties to continue building that relationship.

The common thread here is remembering the human behind each potential filled cart and see it as an opportunity to inspire with the confidence to stay on your site. Whether it’s taking their needs into consideration with free delivery and extended customers servicing options, or a seamless, personalised experience on your site, connecting with your customer will set you apart from in-store shopping and Amazon. It’s where your brand can shine when it comes to turning researchers in purchasers.

If you want more ideas on how you can give customers the confidence to buy and buy from you, make sure you read our latest eBook.

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