Life after Lockdown: Making the move to direct-to-consumer sales

A sea of shutters has been a familiar sight on high streets across the country as lockdown has forced the majority of shops to close, but that hasn’t stopped people spending, online. The pace of digital commerce has accelerated drastically, but as the shutters start to lift in England, where does that leave online sales?

Lockdown has hit the fashion industry particularly hard, with Monsoon, Cath Kidston and Victoria’s Secret having gone into administration to name just a few. Zara has also announced it is closing up to 1,200 stores worldwide after recording its first ever quarterly loss.

Supermarkets have remained operational of course, but social distancing measures have turned people off from browsing the aisles. Shoppers are visiting stores less frequently, with those having not visited a store for a week or longer increasing by 50% compared to visitor numbers before social distancing rules came into force.

The good news for FMCG brands? Consumers are spending – just online instead. Online sales are booming, with the likes of Zara reporting an increase of 95% in April, and grocery sales were reported to account for over 10% of the grocery market in April compared to 7.4% in March.

To keep consumers spending, brands have been forced to up their e-commerce game, and one company that is making the most of it is confectionery brand Swizzels. A long-standing client of ours, Swizzels is no stranger to e-commerce, having established its online shop some time before Covid-19. But the sweet manufacturer has seen a phenomenal increase in online sales of their gift hampers and with personalised options available too, Swizzels wanted to capitalise on this and has recently worked with us on a campaign to drive sales of their gifting range in the lead up to Father’s Day. Through media relations, we have targeted online publications specifically to secure links back to the various gifting products and drive click throughs to buy.

We’ve worked with Swizzels for years, and we are no strangers to helping them drive traffic to their site and encourage purchase, but this demand is unprecedented.

The advantage of selling direct-to-consumer is the ability to cut out the middle man and offer better value to your customers. With salaries taking a hit, people are looking for brands to provide discounts and more offers, so value products are critical to customer loyalty.

If you are an FMCG brand, now is the time to consider your customers’ buying habits and how people might be purchasing your products now. What is your online offering like? Is it even in existence? Can it facilitate click to buy? Do you have the staffing to cope with a surge in online orders? Have you got a digital marketing strategy in place to promote your online offering? How consumers will behave once non-essential shops re open is uncertain, but brands would be foolish to take their foot off the gas with e-commerce. Almost half of people plan to stick to their new ways of shopping for groceries and a third predict their online spending will only increase in future. Don’t be the next one to fall, take note and take action