How DTC Brands Are Revolutionizing Experiential Retail

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The process of delivering a product directly to the consumer is relatively new—direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands only came on the scene in the mid-2010s and most made their name as digitally native brands. From easy-to-ship items like makeup, skincare, and fashion, the DTC movement quickly expanded to everything from furniture to fitness equipment to smart technology. But with the surge in DTC online-only brands came more competition, and the need to rethink the digital-only approach. To stand out from the crowd meant expanding to an omnichannel experience—including a shift to physical stores. While some DTC brands have chosen to test the waters with their own branded retail store, that’s a complex and expensive undertaking—from finding the location, negotiating the lease/purchase, building out the store, and training and staffing associates, for starters.

 

Just as many DTC brands reinvented the shopping experience when they entered the digital space, now those same brands are making waves with their reimagined approach to interactive, engaging in-person retail shopping. T-ROC, a global end-to-end solutions provider for retailers, brands, and manufacturers, has partnered with leading DTC brands to guide them through the process. From pop-up shops to roadshows to stores-within-stores, T-ROC is helping digital brands make the leap to brick-and-mortar—providing them with dedicated brand ambassadors—both in the aisles and virtually. Especially with high-end and complex purchases, consumers want to see the product in person and test it for themselves. Here are just a few of the brands that T-ROC is working with to create an exciting, tactile experience supported by engaging, authentic customer service.

 

SimpliSafe, a leading producer of self-installed home security systems that sells direct to consumers, came to T-ROC for help with a holiday push through a limited brand ambassadorship program in Best Buy. This was their first transition to a physical store experience, and our brand ambassadors were instrumental in helping the brand’s omnichannel growth. For 2021, SimpliSafe has expanded its partnership with T-ROC to include a full-time brand ambassadorship program throughout BestBuy stores.

 

Echelon Fitness is a DTC leader when it comes to connected at-home fitness equipment, including bikes, rowers, treadmills, and smart mirrors. T-ROC introduced several of their hottest fitness products through a Sam’s Club Road Show, during which we also rolled out our brand new Virtual Interactive Brand Ambassador (VIBA) platform. VIBA is the only video-based, omnichannel customer experience solution that delivers sales, service, and support experiences online and in-store.

 

VIBA’s virtual assistant, Valerie, can answer questions, and share demos, videos, and other pertinent information. She can even text special offers, coupons, and additional actionable links directly to customers.  For almost 80% of customer engagements, virtual assistants, like Valerie, are more cost-effective than full-time staff or contractors – costing clients like Echelon up to 200% less than staffing.

 

The pilot program was so successful that our next engagement with Echelon is their new partnership with Kohl’s. The program will launch with Echelon store-within-a-store in 45 Kohl’s department stores throughout the country. Customers will not only be able to try out the equipment but also use VIBA to speak with a virtual rep. T-ROC will also provide IT support and service for all the VIBA totems in Kohl’s stores—for a true end-to-end retail solution for Echelon.

 

Facebook’s Oculus division produces virtual reality headsets, including the Oculus Quest 2, a battery-powered, standalone headset that allows users to freely roam around their physical and digital play spaces without fear of tripping over a wire. VR and augmented reality (AR) are decidedly cool technology, but also exactly the kind of complex, higher-priced electronic that you want to touch, feel and try for yourself. T-ROC’s engagement with Facebook’s Oculus will launch this fall in 90 Walmart stores. The Oculus in-store merchandising displays will include signage and special headset packaging with QR codes so that customers can scan to be connected to VIBA and a live representative.

 

At T-ROC, we want to be the partner of choice for DTC brands who want to not only enhance their physical presence but also boost their customer’s digital experience as well. VIBA is a pioneering video-based platform that’s changing the way customers shop, whether in-person or online. To learn more about how T-ROC can work with your DTC brand, get in touch with Chris Green, Senior Vice President,  Business Development at T-ROC, cgreen@trocglobal.com.