Goldilocks’ co-founders Jessica Sheft-Ason and Minsuk Kim comprise one of the foremost success stories in the realm of direct-to-consumer sales. Their cookware company prioritizes selling high-quality cookware at prices affordable to the average home cook.
By optimizing their physical products as well as their D2C models, they built a brand that was featured in “New York Magazine,” “Vogue,” and “Good Housekeeping.” There are a number of lessons to be taken from successful D2C businesses such as Goldilocks, as direct-to-consumer strategies are more successful than ever in an age where eCommerce is king.
Use Your Network
Sheft-Ason and Kim leveraged people close to them to jump-start their business, and because they took care of the people they shared products with, they were able to get honest feedback on their product as well as testimonials for their site.
By giving prototypes to close friends and family members, the two knew they’d get a helpful response. While consumers can be unreliable or give feedback that isn’t targeted towards the company’s specific needs, everyone knows that their biggest critics (and supporters) are those they’re closest to.
The testimonials that they were able to share from those first product testers began to legitimize the business in the minds of visitors to their site before anything hit their cart. They also requested feedback and testimonials from customers to build out the face of their business.
Goldilocks employs a survey that prompts customers to describe their experience after checking out. This isn’t in place because they’re seeking exclusively five-star reviews to boost their egos, it’s because they want to improve their site and their product.
Many new entrepreneurs get tunnel vision early on in their projects because of their very specific vision or goal, but when the idea is direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales, the path may well be winding. A web developer can do every test possible on the back end of a site without any red flags just before a customer experiences an error.
Often, small problems are evidence of bigger ones, and having the humility to welcome criticism is of the utmost importance. These post-purchase surveys are also helpful for market research, as it allows the business compare itself to other products and other companies.
For example, Goldilocks learned that consumers were moving away from nonstick cookware and toward stainless steel, which ended up inspiring their entire product line today.
Control Your Brand’s Messaging
Traditional retail sales allow a company very little control over the way the product is treated, advertised, and sold once it’s left its warehouse for a shelf at a big-box retailer. On a smaller, D2C-modeled website, the seller has full liberty to advertise their product and others as they please and create a relationship with the consumer while they’re on the site.
At a big-box retailer, one company’s product is grouped with dozens of others. Side by side, the product looks unremarkable and similar to all the other options, but every seller knows that their product deserves special attention.
By selling individually and directly to consumers, your eCommerce business gets to tell its story thousands of times a day. By including detailed descriptions of items that wouldn’t be as easily accessible when looking at a product on a Walmart shelf, consumers begin to feel a link to your product; the product, even something as basic and impersonal as cookware, has personality.
Acquire Customers to Grow Brand Loyalty
There are more D2C businesses than ever, but there are also more ways to advertise than ever. Traditional advertising blasts via television, radio, or news are not effective for online businesses, so having a coordinated online approach to advertising and customer acquisition is essential.
Locating which social media platforms are best for your product is the first — and potentially most important — step. Though Facebook was once state of the art, it’s now where you advertise products you want to sell to middle-aged or elderly people. Young adults are more present on sites like Instagram and Twitter, and young people populate most non-Facebook platforms, especially Snapchat and TikTok.
Goldilocks was in a unique situation, being that they sell cookware. Most consumers buy one set of pots and pans and have no need for any more for some time, so Goldilocks struggled to find repeat customers. Because of this, they targeted their advertising in different directions.
They also changed their post-purchase survey to give them information that would be more helpful, about their products and the purchasing process rather than emphasizing that the customer should come back.
It’s painfully cliche even to include it, but at the end of the day, Jessica Sheft-Ason and Minsuk Kim worked harder than their competitors. They had a passion for improvement and for success and it showed, bringing their business to the forefront.
Optimization of every part of a business is incredibly hard work. It takes an intimate knowledge of every step of the process, something that wholesalers have no need for.
D2C sales allow much more communication and interaction with the consumer, which is a blessing if it’s handled correctly, but can also sink a new company if it’s mishandled. Success stories like Goldilocks’ deserve to be amplified, and who knows?
Your business could be next.