Penny Black

1. What’s your name and title and what do you do day-to-day in 20 words or fewer?

I’m Mollie Woolnough-Rai, Senior Marketing Manager – Make DTC brands realise that the unboxing moment is their secret retention superpower.

2. At Penny Black you help leading brands personalise customer unboxing experiences. Can you give us a success story for a D2C brand you’ve worked with. Eg what was the problem? what did you do? what were the results?

Before working with Penny Black, the tea brand, Bird & Blend, realised their unboxing experiences lacked the same level of personalisation as the rest of their post-purchase marketing. They wanted a solution that brought their customer obsession to life all the way through to the unboxing moment.

Since working with Penny Black, Bird & Blend Tea Co has launched over 25 campaigns (ranging from customers receiving recipes in their orders to exclusive offers) that automatically print personalised inserts that are added to every order. Overall, adding a unique touch to their unboxing experience.

Their most successful campaign, the Brew Society campaign, encourages customers to join a secret community where they gain access to exclusive sales, events, and a private Facebook group. And, once registered, their LTV increases as they become a hyper-engaged community member. With their Penny Black inserts, Bird & Blend have been able to promote this community to loyal customers. These inserts have a 25% QR code scan rate and have contributed to the community growing 3x. As a result, Bird & Blend now have a 3x bigger customer cohort with an automatically higher LTV.

3. You specialise in packaging and marketing – what piece of advice would you give to DTC brands who want to improve customer retention?

For DTC brands with an online-only presence, the unboxing experience is their only chance to make a lasting impression on customers in the real world. It’s the one moment when you’ve got your customers’ complete, undivided attention and is the prime time to stand out from the competition.

To make the most of this crucial opportunity and turn first-time buyers into lifelong fans, DTC brands should add personalised in-package inserts to the unboxing moment. These inserts could show tailored content – like a recipe, tutorial, or a personalised discount – that will motivate customers to make another purchase (and become more loyal).

I would advise that brands don’t miss out on this key moment to connect with customers and keep them coming back for more.

4. What do you think the biggest challenges facing eCommerce/D2C businesses will be over the next 12-18 months?

As e-commerce brands gear up for the next 12-18 months, one major hurdle looms: cash flow. With sky-high acquisition costs and customers tightening their belts, brands must find ways to boost conversions without breaking the bank.

Our advice would be to prioritise existing customers and deliver an exceptional brand experience. Think personalised touches, exclusive perks and discounts for your most loyal fans. By optimising every customer interaction to build a relationship with your customers, you’ll make them feel valued and ultimately inspire their loyalty – even when they’re on a budget. Not to mention, they’ll also refer your brand to others, helping you cost-effectively acquire new shoppers.

5. Complete this sentence – DTC brands that survive and thrive in 2023 will …

Turn their unboxing moments into a new marketing channel.

6. Name three D2C brands that are killing it and whom you recommend others to emulate/learn from.

Paul Valentine – At its core, PAUL VALENTINE is a contemporary jewellery brand that wants to surprise and delight its customers with luxurious products and experiences. They listen to their customer’s feedback and create with their needs in mind. I love how their customers are at the core of their product development – often brands can lose sight of what’s really important.

Suri – Been dubbed the “Apple for dental care”. I love how they’re so focused on their high-quality unboxing moment that customers really feel like they’re experiencing the brand in the real world when it arrives on their doorstep. SURI is also paving the way when it comes to delivering a sustainable product that sticks by its values. They’re proudly certified B-Corp and are making headlines because of the sustainability focus that’s woven into every piece of their marketing. By having such strong values, SURI also has a super-engaged, loyal customer community to are always making referrals on the brand’s behalf.

Warners Distillery – They run farm and distillery tours where customers can get closer to the brand and see how their favourite gins are made. They’re clear about the craftsmanship that goes into their gins and how their customers are a piece of that journey. I really think this is the way forward with small businesses. By putting a face to the brand, stores can build genuine relationships that make shoppers opt for their brand over the competition.