How D2C Brands Can Achieve Breakthrough Growth Outside of Social Media Monopolies

By Dov Kaufmann

Updated February 20, 2023.

How D2C Brands Can Achieve Breakthrough Growth Outside of Social Media Monopolies

By Dov Kauffman, Co-Founder and CEO of Tolstoy

The rising prevalence of video-based ecommerce platforms has equipped retailers with a new tool to enhance their close relationship with consumers, and it’s letting them cut all the middlemen out, for good.

This seismic shift towards video has given rise to a new era of independence amongst direct-to-consumer retailers, a cohort that cut its teeth competing against big business in the arena of online shopping. Having to go toe-to-toe against dominant brands in huge markets, D2C brands inherently understand the value of independence and how it relates to their capacity to react with agility and creativity.

For the first time these brands are being given the opportunity to really own the customer experience and reduce their dependence on social media giants through shoppable and interactive video which allows them to offer a vastly improved customer experience and build on their social capital.

Social Commerce 2.0

The use of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok to market and sell products and services within the app has had a transformative effect on customer buying habits. Data shows that Gen Z in particular use social media to seek inspiration, research products and connect with their favourite brands. As a one-stop shop, social commerce platforms bring together all elements of online shopping in a single convenient package complete with customer support and easy check out.

Shopping has never been so streamlined, and it’s for this reason that the value of social commerce has skyrocketed. By 2026 it’s estimated that the value of this seamless form of shopping will reach $2.9 trillion in the US. Live shopping is another form of video and social commerce that has already gained massive traction in Asia and Latin America. Worth an estimated $600 billion in China alone, the format is being rolled out across rival platforms including Amazon Live, TikTok Shop/Live, Instagram Live and Twitch.

For the average social media user who spends 15% of their waking life on social platforms, the melding of entertainment and socialising with online shopping represents convenience, fun and a more authentic brand experience.

The emergence of independent shoppable video platforms means that D2C brands that have previously exclusively relied on social media to drive brand awareness, strengthen customer connections, and generate revenue are able to do so outside of social media monopolies by turning their websites into their own self-contained platforms. These retailers are empowered to create their brand narratives, build communities, and access full analytic data without being beholden to unknown algorithms, restrictive guidelines, or sudden loss of access to social media accounts.

Leveraging Independent Shoppable Video Platforms to Fast-Track Growth

As the internet is a great leveller for D2C brands, the development of integrated shoppable video for ecommerce retailers has given them advantages that have until recently only been accessible to social media heavyweights. Brands are able to leverage in-depth data to hone product offerings, personalise the customer shopping experience and build on community engagement.

D2C retailers can also capitalise on their nimbleness to create compelling brand narratives that will add credibility and meaning to their campaigns. As a medium, video is a powerful vehicle for immersive storytelling – more pertinently, video also offers consumers product information that is otherwise unable to be conveyed via text and images alone. From the look of a product to its colour and proportions, shoppable video reveals far richer details than the standard ecommerce format.

Retailers are now able to tap into the power of shoppable video to replicate its benefits on their brand’s own page instead of only selling through social media, and they can do it armed with targeted insights gleaned from the platform. Businesses can see how customers react to certain products, what content they engage with the most, which areas or products underperform, which do well and more.

These insights are critical to personalising the customer experience and assists with product development and retargeting of customers. For D2C businesses accustomed to overseeing all aspects of the business from production to distribution, independent shoppable video platforms add an extra layer of control. No longer do social media middlemen have exclusive access to valuable customer information, brands can solely focus on their own D2C strategy to increase loyalty and sales.

Quick Tips for Making the Most of Shoppable Video

Brands looking to maximise their shoppable video ROI should keep the following in mind:

  • There’s no need to spend a lot to make a great video, keep it simple and stick to these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way. Don’t forget, audiences favour unfiltered and authentic content over slick productions. Taking a low key approach works in favour of your business.
  • Try embedding a Founder story to greet customers with. This should quickly introduce them to your brand and its products and direct them to where they need to go. Consider your Founder story and how it connects to your overall brand story. Work through it if necessary to identify your business’ values, mission, and goals.
  • Keep it simple and authentic. Utilise influencers and user-generated content. Reviews are especially essential to credibility, so make the process as hassle-free as possible for your customers.
  • For a start, you can use videos you already posted on social without creating new ones and make them shoppable. Make sure that you choose the most engaging videos. You already know what works well on your socials so use the information you already have.
  • Make sure that every piece of content represents this brand narrative. Consistency is key to reinforcing brand messages.

By reclaiming their right to dictate their own direction through use of independent shoppable video platforms, D2C retailers are making it clear to the big names in social media that their era is officially over and the playing field is now even for businesses of all sizes.