So many brands are climbing aboard the direct-to-consumer (D2C) bandwagon these days that it’s hard to keep track of them. One thing has become very clear: Becoming a D2C brand is a lot tougher than building a website and taking orders.
Take Yasso Yogurt, which is one of the newest brands to launch a direct sales channel. It’s a Greek yogurt brand that competes with Chobani and has enviable physical store distribution at chains such as Stop & Shop and Target.
Heading into 2020, one of its key planning initiatives was to launch a direct channel in 2021. There were reasons for the time lag between decision and execution. Shipping yogurt is a challenge that goes beyond simple supply chain issues. It involves packing refrigerants, two-day delivery and other considerations. But then came the pandemic, when Yasso’s customers started ordering their groceries online. It didn’t take long for that 2021 plan to be pressed into service.
“At Yasso, we continuously look for ways to innovate and improve our consumer experience and offerings, ensuring that Yasso is available for purchase where consumers choose to shop. The significant increase in online shopping this year led us to expedite our D2C timeline, with Yasso now available to order directly to your door,” said Craig Shiesley, Yasso CEO. “The addition of the direct-to-consumer option provides our fans with a convenient way to purchase our craveable products without having to leave their homes. And we’ll use this new platform to gather feedback from our consumers and continue to look for ways to expand our value proposition.”
Again, the execution details are a lot more difficult than they look. Yasso’s shipping process utilizes a biodegradable insulated container with enough dry ice to keep the product frozen during shipping. The Yasso D2C products are different than the ones found in stores – rather than single servings, they come only in boxes. The order minimum for online purchases is eight boxes, and shoppers can choose their own varieties.
Another behind-the-scenes element of this D2C launch involves marketing. Yasso eCommerce Manager Ari Moledina told PYMNTS that the company is being patient about the launch.
“We’re in a really good place now that we’ve launched with a slow, phased approach,” Moledina said. “Rather than going all in at the beginning, we started with kind of a quiet launch, leading into our organic promotion on social and email. Now, we’re going into kind of a paid media phase. That phased approach has helped us to monitor early shipments, respond to any customer inquiries and make sure things were really high-quality before we push more attention and media toward the launch.”
According to Moledina, Yasso has been monitoring consumer behavior and shopping preferences for both its in-store accounts and online sales. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was hard for the company to keep up with in-store demand, but that has now settled enough for the D2C orders to be fulfilled reliably. She also has confidence that her operations and customer service teams will be able to help with any issues in those areas. Like other marketers during the pandemic, Moledina has shifted into more of a hybrid role that blends marketing and operations, as the need to fulfill and ship orders continues to be a focus.
“I would say FedEx has had COVID delays, but it’s now at a better place,” she said. “But there are no guarantees with carriers right now. I think as consumers, sometimes it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, there are trucks driving around on roads. And so we can be impacted by things like wildfires or other severe weather. We just try to be proactive with communicating with our customers and alerting them about delays. We put everything in place so that customers know what’s happening, and if there are issues, our customer service team is there to help.”
The D2C effort also generates valuable and unique consumer data, which Moledina’s team can pass along to other departments.
“We will use the metrics that we’re able to gather on the site to see what’s working and what’s not,” she said. “I think the eCommerce ecosystem will continue to grow. And I think consumers are trending in the direction of looking for online delivery, so we will take our learnings from our direct-to-consumer site and explore other ways to meet customers where they want those solutions.”