While direct-to-consumer growth has exploded in the past year, some brands are finding there's still plenty of room to forge ahead in building a more direct relationship with their customers.
Sydney-based Okendo has made a splash in this world by building out a popular customer reviews systems for Shopify sellers, but it's aiming to expand its ambitions and tackle a much bigger problem with its first outside funding -- helping brands scale the quality of their first-party data and loosen their reliance on tech advertising kingpins for customer acquisition and engagement.
"Most DTC brands are still very dependent on Big Tech," CEO Matthew Goodman tells TechCrunch.
Gathering more customer review data directly from consumers has been the first part of the puzzle, with its product that helps brands manage and showcase customer ratings, reviews, user-generated media and product questions. Moving forward Okendo is looking to help firms manage more of the web of cross-channel customer data they have, standardizing it and allowing them to give customers a more personalized experience when they shop with them.
"Merchants have goals and want to better understand their customers," Goodman says. "As soon as a brand reaches a certain level of scale they’re dealing with unwieldy data."
Goodman says that Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature and Google's pledge to end third-party cookie tracking has pushed some brands to get more serious about scaling their own data sets to insulate themselves from any sudden movements.
The company needs more coin in its coffers to take on the challenge, raising their first bout of funding since launching back in 2018. They've raised $5.3 million in seed funding, led by Index Ventures. 2020 was a big growth year for the startup, as e-commerce spending surged and sellers looked more thoughtfully at how they were scaling. The company tripled its ARR during the year and doubled its headcount. The bootstrapped company was profitable at the time of the raise, Goodman says.
Today, the company boasts more than 3,500 DTC brands in the Shopify network as customers, including heavyweights like Netflix, Lego, Skims, Fanjoy and Crunchyroll. The startup is tight-lipped on what their next product launches will look like, but plans to jump into two new areas in the next 12 months, Goodman says.