D4C at vvast scale

By Richie Jones

vvast was founded on a key tenant that sits at the heart of our brand. We call it ‘relentless R&D’.

Relentless R&D is based on the premise that ecommerce, our consumer and our brands never, ever rest.

As a company we are committed to keeping ahead of the market and we share innovation, our knowledge and expertise with our partners in an digestible and actionable form to encourage relentless innovation.

The Headwinds

For the retail sector, the pace of change keeps on accelerating. There are headwinds that necessitate continuous investment in our technology that will ensure we capitalise on the change that is coming. These headwinds take the form of the post COVID or, rather “living with COVID” societal shift that has taken place and will forever change consumer behaviour.

Google themselves have said they are not seeing the return to pre-pandemic channel trends they were expecting. Ecommerce centric consumer behaviour isn’t going anywhere.

Cookie Compliance

The second headwind to hit our shores, comes in the form of the increasingly draconian Cookie compliance being enforced in the UK and pan EU. The cautious brands (including some in the vvast stable) are opting for the play it safe, over compliance approach of providing users on landing at their brand website with an opt out of cookies button with ‘equal prominence’ as the opt in.

The result? Up to 50% of users are now not being tracked with some brands reporting 70%+ uplift opt out rate. This outcome is truly shocking for the paid media optimisation teams who operate and rely heavily on a data-rich core.

Performance Marketing budgets were historically the most sacrosanct due to their accountability. Not any more, behold the ghost user who’s only presence appears when they finally checkout, having paced the virtual aisles undercover and if they don’t opt in – they are never to be seen again.

Google have a cookieless solution we are all told, but it is currently two years late.

Our Secret is Out

The third headwind is the iOS14 update. In the same way the ‘equal prominence’ cookie issue highlights a swift exit for customers not wanting to be tracked; iOS14 has uncovered to users just how many apps are tracking what they are doing and gifts them an equally simple way of opting out. All of this has probably left the user wondering where they stand and what they get out of the transaction?

The Three Ts of Ecommerce Success

It’s no longer enough to simply talk at your customers, you need to make a connection. At vvast we’ve created a framework to scale as you scale driving business intelligence to build your brand equity.

  1. Trading – Transforming the Traditional

We take the best from traditional merchandising and buying practices and then add rocket fuel to it by accelerating the learnings through our bespoke, data-driven process to help you manage inventory levels. We merge e-commerce data and analytics with best practice to deliver more efficient demand planning and trading toolkit leveraging years of inhouse experience trading 200+ brands across EMEA

  • Transaction – Relentless Innovation

Leveraging our own front end vvastify 2.0 theme sitting on top of Shopifys Storefront 2.0 we work with you to ensure the onsite experience is as delightful and seamless as possible. Our latest D4C thinking links customer behaviour to their onsite experience, enhancing their relationship with your brand. We collaborate with y/our 3PL partners to ensure that the entire customer journey is as streamlined as possible. The vvast playbook is constantly developed to ensure that you grow an online presence tailored specifically to your brand, and the tools to optimise performance ongoing. 

  • Traction – Building Brand Equity

We work with all our brands to develop a fit for purpose go to market strategy to ensure we are all aligned and well positioned for market entry with considered launch plans to enable us to sell product now and build traction over time. We own the D2C P&L for you so this is always anchored to your growth aspirations to ensure the right level of growth vs profit is achieved.

The Future is Bright

These monumental milestones in ecommerce’s evolution now mean that brands must create an even more meaningful relationships with the consumers they do attract. There is no more hiding behind the curtain – a light has been shone and underhand behaviour won’t be tolerated by the legal system and customers alike.

These customers are the proverbial salmon that have made the journey upstream, through the myriad of paid ads; endured a brands’ user experience and product terminology, to then actually go on to transact; and if you are really lucky even opt in to marketing and cookies.

Consumers now need a brand to justify why opt in is beneficial, how it gives you the potential to get closer to the brands that you love.

This isn’t simply about rewarding loyalty, it’s about using data to curate beautiful, relevant, personalised user experiences that makes a brand customer understand not only how their data is being harvested to enhance their brand experience; but also, how to make their relationship with the brand truly delightful.

After all, who doesn’t love to be delighted. If we are truly engaged in a brand we’re keen to be the first to hear about a hidden product feature, a case use or an up and coming colourway in a sister product. This type of brand communication builds loyalty, intrigue and dare I say FOMO which further drives the engagement wheel.

These are all rather weighty requirements and something that as a business we’re stepping firming into the fore to deliver. It’s no mean feat, but we have the vision, the team and experience to lead the way.

This consumer centric layer sits on top of the now standard practice D2C infrasture and we have dubbed it D4C.

Direct 4 Consumer

Building for D4C has been years in the planning. We have laid the groundwork and invested into a tech stack that ensures the scale required to drive off our existing datasets. vvast are primed and perfectly positioned to step into the fold and build out D4C experiences for our existing and new brands to deliver on the promise of D4C.

With two key streams of technical development in the form of vvastBI, our Microsoft PowerBI powered business intelligence tool and vvastify our Shopify theme / front end stack that enables us to create on brand user experiences for our brands consumers we’ve built an infrastructure to deliver actionable and authentic customer insight.

We’re extending vvastBIs capabilities to provide a better understanding of our brands customer behaviour.

This is taking place at the same time as we rewrite our beloved Shopify theme vvastify (yes we are calling it vvastify 2.0). Shopify recently launched its biggest rewrite in its history ‘Storefront 2.0’.

In Essence

As our developer team go into its annual Q4 code freeze our roadmap will be paused, drains pulled up and a full-blown rewrite scoped to leverage every last drop of sweet brand experience enhancing opportunity from the Storefront 2.0 features.

The Headwinds, the pivotal release from one of our closest partners Shopify and the ongoing brand switch to the D2C channel all sow the seeds of why the evolution of D2C must ultimately be about what value we can offer to our brands’ consumers using the collective might of AI powered, realtime data insight and many years of trading 200+ brands across EMEA.

No pressure then.