DTC fashion has become increasingly popular but what exactly is it? In a nutshell, it means ‘direct-to-consumer’, when a brand goes straight to a customer direct. There’s no wholesale, no third party retail, just manufacture > sell direct. Here’s a short two minute video explaining it perfectly.
Of course, fashion brands have been selling direct to consumer for decades (catalogues, remember them?!), but the DTC trend has reached a tipping point powered by digital channels and ecommerce. Brands both large and small are now getting into DTC in a way they’ve never done before.
For example, Nike is focusing heavily on its DTC channel and plans to grow this part of its business by 250% over the next five years. Companies like Timberland, REI and Under Armour are also finding notable success expanding their DTC channels.
But it’s not just household name brands – smaller brands are also moving into DTC. Accessories brand Marais is an example of a small, successful fashion brand that stopped doing press, going to trade shows and taking orders from wholesalers. Instead it moved its manufacturing from China to ‘round the corner’, and has gone pure-play DTC.
Speaking to Vogue Business, Marais USA’s founder Haley Boyd says that going DTC isn’t without its challenges, especially as the margins on DTC sales are often (surprisingly) lower than wholesale. It’s a risk, but it also has considerable advantages:
- You have far greater brand control. Buyer pressure to manufacture certain styles is replaced by greater control to expand a fashion brand in the way you, the designer, wants to.
- Customer relationships can be deepened and personalised on a one-to-one basis. For many brands, the most compelling reason to sell directly to consumers is the potential to collect massive amounts of data on their customers. As Reuben Hendell of BrandShop says, “It’s important to deliver personalized experiences, not only to drive sales, but also because 75 percent of consumers prefer it.”
- Press teams can be entirely replaced by focusing on “sharing beautiful images direct” via Instagram, Snapchat etc. Products can now be bought directly off many social media pages.
- Manufacturing can be brought closer to home, allowing for better manufacturing relationships, lower lead times and far greater agility. It also allows for more product experimentation with smaller minimum order sizes.
- By selling directly to consumers, companies can envision how their customer journey should really take place and make sure that vision becomes a reality.
Can i.LEVEL help you with managing a DTC fashion brand? You bet! At its heart, i.LEVEL is a single-view stock control system that gives a complete overview of all your sales channels.
It allows you to track clothing and accessories from factory to warehouse, store to customer, website to home address. In short, everything you need to manage your DTC fashion brand. We also have a number of related modules to empower your fashion brand further – warehouse scanning, ecommerce app, mobile app, and much more besides.