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5 Key Findings on How DTC Brands Need to Use Data to Improve Personalization


Published on: October 28, 2021

Updated: August 29, 2023


We recently ran a study of 50 of the top DTC brands and their typical U.S.-focused customer journey, specifically focused on their use of data and personalization throughout that journey.

We discovered that most DTC brands are under-utilizing the data they have at their fingertips – leaving a huge opportunity for brands looking to set themselves apart. DTC brands need to use the following findings to begin implementing improvements to their journeys that will make a real difference in customer retention.

94% of DTC brands do not include dynamic product recommendations in their shipping confirmations.

Ultimately, only 2% of brands even include personalized recommendations. The other 4% use generic.

Since shipping confirmations have an average open rate of 148%, this is a sizable chance for brands to provide a personal experience and raise sales. Shipping confirmations provide a unique chance to cross-sell customers on other products that improve or relate to the item they just bought. Brands must begin to make use of this valuable marketing real estate to drive multiple purchases.

78% of brands are still using a 3rd party order tracking page.

This finding is despite the fact that site-hosted order tracking pages increase return traffic by 85% and reduce “Where’s my order?” inquiries by at least 25%.

Simply put, hosting your own order tracking page is a massive opportunity for DTC brands – an opportunity that they can no longer afford to ignore. A site-hosted tracking page allows the brand to retain ownership of a key portion of the customer experience, growing trust in their brand. A site-hosted tracking page is an excellent opportunity to surface customer service content like FAQs or a chatbot, for instance.

A full 26% of brands do not offer SMS tracking notifications.

Of brands that do, only 12% provide the customer with a choice of notification channel. SMS is often a preferred channel for tracking notifications – and tracking notifications enable brands to build a rapport with the customer on an intimate and highly lucrative marketing channel. Ultimately, brands have a lot of ground to make up in communicating via a customer’s preferred channel. DTC brands need to make the necessary updates required to place the customer at the center of the order tracking experience.

62% of brands fail to send a delivery confirmation notification.

Of those that do send a notification, a full 36% include no further content. These notifications are a key moment to build brand trust and loyalty, as well as create a personalized touchpoint for your customers. In fact, 70% of shoppers actually want more frequent order updates according to Forrester research.

The trick to providing delivery confirmation notifications (as well as other tracking notifications) that improve the customer experience is to share relevant, easy-to-understand content with each notification. Delivery confirmations, for instance, are an excellent time to send product instructions and education. Order delay notifications, on the other hand, are a wise time to send out customer service information.

At the end of the day, sending delivery confirmations is an easy way to massively improve the customer experience and ease friction at a highly sensitive time. It’s a fast fix for many brands (just turn that notification on in Shopify) and an easy one to optimize content for.

50% of brands are still not requesting a product review.

Of the other 50% who do request a review, 11% send a request before the order arrives and 69% send it after the customer submits a return! Not only does this result in a poor reviews program for brands, but it provides the customer with the impression that the brand has no idea when orders arrive or what happens to orders after they leave the warehouse. Brands need to prioritize improving the experience around review requests sooner rather than later.

What DTC brands can learn from this report.

As customer retention becomes the focus of long-term success for DTC brands, these findings show that there is a lot of opportunity for brands to improve their current customer journeys.

Harnessing customer order data, for instance, empowers brands to provide highly personalized experiences at scale, which then inspire loyalty. Brands must dig into their data to discover key touchpoints they’re currently missing out on and begin to surface relevant personalized information to answer customers’ questions before they ask them. How are DTC brands harnessing data? We studied 50 leading US DTC brands to understand how data is being used and to identify new ways to maximize data.

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