The Rise of D2C and the
Digital High Street

How SEO and digital marketing is critical to the success of 

the direct-to-consumer model

At Seeded Digital, we advocate the importance of a solid search engine optimisation strategy to boost and support your direct-to-consumer (D2C) online commerce plans. We see D2C as a movement and one that radically accelerated in 2020. It’s the evolution of retail, and direct selling to customers will continue to grow.  We understand the D2C model and have a strong team of experts that can help D2C start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs together with eCommerce platforms and those looking to launch a D2C channel, with essential SEO, content and digital marketing work. Here we dive into the D2C Model and examine how SEO and digital marketing are critical to its success. 

The Changing Retail Ecosystem

The last 18 months has seen the growth in the Digital High Street and the D2C model as the global pandemic wiped out volumes of in-store customers that UK retail outlets and the brands they stocked, relied on. 

With bricks and mortar retailers closed, consumers have taken to the digital universe, starting an accelerated movement towards online shopping; searching, sourcing and buying their favourite products and brands direct from businesses or via ecommerce platforms such as Amazon (who saw sales increase 51% in the UK to £19.4bn last year - minute hack). 

Research from Growth Intelligence showed that more than 85,000 online businesses were launched in the first four months of the first lockdown in 2020. Digitally cautious consumers started to buy online for the first time and a digital revolution began.

In fact, online spend is now 30% of overall retail sales in the UK, up from 20% a year ago and the digital sector is expected to grow phenomenally over the next 5-years (mention-me).  

Fair to say that retailers are feeling the force of digital disruption and the ecosystem evolving alongside it.

In ‘Retails last chance saloon?’, Jim Shaw, founder and partner at Shaw & Co, suggests retailers are becoming less relevant in a rapidly growing digital economy. On the backfoot, they no longer add value to the customer as buying habits and consumer consumption changes in a shifting retail landscape.

While there are risks to online retailers who don’t apply the right strategy and model to deliver a strong digital value proposition, what is clear is that the traditional UK retailers have had a hard time of it already, even before the pandemic, with increases in rents and a steady loss of footfall.  The rise of online shopping and direct to consumer channels is a tipping point.    

Arcadia and Debenhams were among the 54 retailers that collapsed in 2020 – the largest loss from the British High Street since the financial crisis of 2008. To survive, retailers need to innovate smartly, swiftly and in-line with shoppers buying behaviour. Preserve the physical high street if they can, but now is the time to capitalise on a new digital high street where customers now increasingly shop.

Who’s at risk?  Anyone with high costs and lacking a solid D2C Strategy. 

Digital first direct to consumer start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs without the baggage of physical retail stores hold the advantage. Those with blended distribution channel strategies, who understand how best to maximise their D2C presence are in strong positions.

In this new retail ecosystem, to ensure your brand is best placed to thrive and grow, a solid direct to consumer model that understands how customers engage, trust and want to buy your products is essential. Practically this means having a fool-proof SEO, content and digital marketing strategy to bring them in.

In this article, we dive into the D2C Model and examine how SEO and digital marketing are critical to its success. 

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How the D2C model works and why it is successful

‘Direct to Consumer’ (D2C) is a relatively new business model that leverages digital technology to cut out the middle man.

Different to traditional business to consumer (B2C) models, D2C cuts out the intermediaries (wholesalers, distributors, retailers, resellers) and focuses on a business strategy centred around owning the direct route to market.  

The keystone to the D2C model is that it allows businesses and their brands to have a direct relationship with the end consumer.  At its heart it relies on an emotional and personal connection between customers, product and the brand itself. The customer receives an experience of empowerment, directly engaging with products and businesses have more control over their brand. A low-cost base can increase profit margins, allowing D2C brands more flexibility and freedoms to re-invest and build, thus acquiring market share.

Brands such as The Snaffling Pig Company, have successfully integrated a D2C model for its pork scratching, meat and beers product range; blending this with its wholesale, pub and retail trade channels. This allowed them to successfully refocus all sales activity on customers directly while the pubs were closed during lockdown and retail saw foot traffic fall.

The smart manufacturers and FMCG brands are taking advantage of the D2C model, as smaller start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs compete to reach and engage consumers digitally. 

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What does this mean for your business?

Put simply, the growth of the digital high-street and D2C channels must be factored into your growth strategy today, regardless of your current size, resources and bandwidth. You then also need to ensure you have a solid commercial digital marketing plan in place that focuses on your SEO and content optimisation, paid media spots and digital PR opportunities.

Get your gnomes in a row and lock-in a D2C marketing strategy.

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Establishing a solid SEO and Search marketing strategy

Your first stop is your website. For inbound marketing, SEO and paid search are non-negotiable. You must have strong, optimised content that showcases your EAT signals (expertise, authority and trustworthiness). This must be thoroughly researched and analysed through keyword research and a clear SEO strategy. Your website must have clean UX with effective internal links and content hubs. There is a process and methodology for achieving this. To learn more about this, you can check out our article D2C SEO for Decision Makers.

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We hope you're enjoying our take on The Rise of D2C and the Digital High Street and if you would like to find out more about working with Seeded Digital, please feel free to get in touch via our contact form at the bottom of this page or email us via info@seeded.digital.

SEO for the D2C Model

SEO for D2C is unique for direct-to-consumer marketing. There are no middle man, retailers, or resellers. Your brand has to deal with every step of marketing, and having a clear SEO strategy is essential to connect with relevant customers. 

To do this properly you need to be discoverable via search engines, and a huge part of what is found in search engines is down to SEO.

Organic search is also the most cost-effective source of traffic over time due to the comparatively low-cost of creating and optimising content (and therefore search assets) that you own and can embellish and build out over time. Done correctly, this has a compounding effect, compared to e.g. paid media that disappears without a trace as soon as the spending tap is turned off. 

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Conclusion

It is clear that D2C is here to stay and will continue it's impressive growth over the coming years. Businesses that can quickly adapt and integrate a D2C model into their product distribution channels will thrive.

Does this mean that traditional retail shops and the town high streets are dead? We don't see this. Physical retail as we know it will remain in some capacity, but will be contingent on providing an experience that’s unique and peculiar to a face-to-face experience.

If the pandemic has left you feeling exposed without a proper D2C digital marketing strategy, or you want to super charge your website’s ability to generate direct revenue, then we’d love to see how we can help you grow. 

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Resources & Further Reading

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​About Seeded Digital

We're a small and fiercely independent search marketing agency with our own unique way of doing things. We enjoy working with like minded start-ups, scale-ups and SME’s who prioritise getting things implemented and getting results. We're based in London and service clients UK-wide.