Top Performing DTC Brands – Why Nike and Ralph Lauren score so well

Clea Boyd-Eedle

November 15, 2022

Top Performing DTC Brands - Why Nike and Ralph Lauren score so well

Pattern recently benchmarked the websites of 50 consumer brands, revealing the top performing direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands based on their website experience. Below we reveal the top ten performing brands in the 2022 DTC Benchmarking Report, which categories performed the best and which ones struggled, as well as steps your brand can take to ensure you are providing a strong DTC site experience.

The pandemic spurred an ecommerce boom and our research shows brands also upped their game with the DTC website experience. Our latest report updates on our 2019 DTC research and serves as food for thought as brands are now experiencing more challenging trading conditions. As a key sales channel, ensuring your brand’s DTC site is offering the best experience and proposition for customers is integral.

Top ten performing brands

DTC Report Blog Graph

All 50 brands were scored based on eight key sections, (1) Website Experience, (2) Store/Stockist Locator, (3) Product Pages, (4) Value-Added Product, (5) Value-Added Service, (6) Value-Added Content, (7) Delivery Proposition, and (8) Customer Service.

Nike topped the rankings in the DTC Benchmarking Research with a score of 88.6%, placing the brand in the top position for the second time. Ralph Lauren followed in second place with a score of 83.7% and Levi’s came in third with a score of 81%.

Four out of the top ten performing brands were from the Clothing category with an average category score of 74%, highlighting the sector’s investment and commitment to DTC website performance. Premium/Luxury and Beauty brands also performed well, with scores of 68% and 65% respectively. As these products lend themselves well to DTC sales, these findings are understandable. Food & Beverage brands, a much more difficult category to set-up for DTC, scored the lowest in the research (48%) and had a number of areas for improvement. Electronics, a more mature category, scored surprisingly low (57%), revealing potential stagnation in the category’s DTC focus.

What are the key elements that drove the top performers’ success?

Nike topped the DTC Benchmarking Research rankings by scoring consistently against each of the criteria. The brand performed exceptionally well in a number of criteria. Nike scored full marks (100%) in the Value-Added Product section, offering an extensive number of online-exclusive products and full customisation for a wide range of products. Nike also scored well thanks to its exclusive loyalty programme, NikePlus, offering members access to products, event invitations, free shipping, a 30-day product trial, VIP treatment in-store, and a birthday gift. This service offers an extensive amount of value to consumers.

Ralph Lauren performed well by offering a great number of Value-Added Services, scoring full marks for the section (100%). Virtual styling appointments can be booked on the site, connecting Ralph Lauren’s in-store assistants with customers from the comfort of their home. The brand also offers personalisation on an extensive number of products, allowing customers to customise clothing and stitching colours, print designs, and add monogram detailing. Ralph Lauren also scored full marks (100%) for its customer service offering, answering email enquiries promptly and with detailed information, and providing a fully-functional and responsive live chat function.

Levi’s DTC site provides a strong delivery proposition, scoring 75% for this section. The brand also scored full marks (100%) for its Value-Added Content, providing an informative jeans guide, detailing the styles and fits of each of its jeans products. There is also a Levi’s blog on the website, featuring interviews and pictures with customers and broader community members. Levi’s also scored full marks (100%) for its Website Experience, providing a holistic brand feel with a focus on smooth ecommerce transaction.

What did the DTC research reveal?

Clothing, Beauty, and Premium brands are performing the best in direct-to-consumer experience. All DTC sites should be functional and accessible to consumers, but what makes a brand excel in this space is offering extra value to consumers they cannot receive elsewhere.

Brands that scored the highest in our research, including Nike, Ralph Lauren and Levi’s, provided features like online-exclusive products, product personalisation, appointment booking, loyalty programmes, how-to guides, and blogs. Each of these elements offer site visitors extra value and motivation to purchase directly from the brand. In order to continue to compete and stay profitable, brands must consider optimising and ensuring on-ongoing development of the DTC website offering.

How can your brand enhance your direct-to-consumer website experience?

Pattern’s DTC Benchmarking Research offers four key recommendations for brands to optimise their direct-to-consumer site offerings.

1. Define the role of the DTC website

First, brands must define the role of their DTC websites, particularly in regards to the website’s place in the brand’s wider ecommerce landscape.

2. Audit your DTC website offering

The next step that brands should take is auditing their DTC website offering. A full end-to-end audit and benchmarking of performance against competitors highlights any gaps in the brand’s site offering, revealing areas for improvement.

3. Review your team and processes

The third recommendation for brands looking to optimise their DTC offering is a review of resourcing and processes to ensure they have the right team to execute their DTC goals.

4. Continually develop your DTC offering

The final step in enhancing your DTC offering is to prioritise on-going development of your DTC website, staying aware of any key consumer needs and competitive gaps. Pattern has worked on a number of projects addressing each of these four key steps using our proprietary technology, highly skilled strategy team, and exclusive direct-to-consumer insights.

Download the full 2022 DTC Benchmarking Report to discover more insights and best practice examples from the research.

Challenging online trading conditions are expected to continue, so investing in your website offering is crucial to match the performance of top performing DTC brands. Pattern’s ecommerce Consulting team helps brands to define and optimise their DTC website offering, for more information please contact us here.

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