With people spending more time at home, going direct-to-consumer is more important than ever. Learn how food company KIND creates deeper customer connections with an innovative ecommerce channel.
With a strong B2B distribution model, KIND Snacks is the No. 1 selling snack bar on Amazon and is available in more than 300,000 stores, including supermarkets, specialty stores, and big-box retailers. In 2017, KIND recognized an untapped direct-to-consumer (D2C) opportunity — a new digital channel to reach customers directly online. The company’s early investment in DTC paid off big dividends when traditional retail was interrupted by COVID-19, and its subscription boxes became one of the top-selling items on its site.
“Our customers are passionate about our brand, our food, our ingredients, and how we’re doing it,” says Freddie Roseman, director of ecommerce technology.
In addition to a new revenue channel, selling directly online allows KIND to build meaningful, personal relationships with its loyal customers. The move set KIND up for the future with a differentiated brand experience and a way to weather future retail disruptions. Keep reading to learn how KIND uses its D2C channel to stay a step ahead — and how these lessons can help your company prepare for what’s next in commerce.
Building deeper connections with customers
Owning the ecommerce experience allows KIND to connect with customers and differentiate from other snack brands. In-store, customers may only see a handful of SKUs. Online, customers have access to a full selection of KIND’s over 80 varieties, which they can browse and explore from the comfort of their own homes.
Beyond providing customers with access to more products, KIND differentiates its D2C channel through the “Build Your Own Box” subscription service. Customers customize their own boxes with the option to try new products and make changes anytime.
“We wanted to give our consumers the opportunity to mix and match all of the products we have without having to buy 12 of just one bar,” Roseman says. “We really wanted to give our consumers that extra choice. [The subscription box] is one of our highest selling SKUs on our site. That validates all of the efforts and justifies future investments in the program as well.”
To launch the service, KIND partnered with Salesforce partner Ordergroove, which helps brands bring subscription, reordering, and membership programs to market. But Roseman and team had to consider the entire value chain to truly offer a DTC product.
“It’s a customized box based on consumer choices from the site, so we spent a lot of time on the logistics,” Roseman says. “We partnered really closely with our fulfillment part of the house.”
A byproduct of the subscription service? Broader audience segments.
The service proved essential when COVID-19 kept many customers from brick-and-mortar stores. “We were able to help service people out there who couldn’t find another channel to get our products,” says Roseman. Their fulfillment team worked hard to get the snacks delivered directly to customers.
KIND uses Salesforce Commerce Cloud for its stability, scalability, security, and speed to drive innovation. The platform provides KIND access to rich audience insights to learn more about shopper behavior, like what products are being purchased together frequently or what types of content increased page views.
Using subscription boxes to test and learn product demand
KIND is using the subscription boxes to introduce new products to customers.
“It’s a great way to keep our most valuable consumers up to date with all of our latest offerings,” Roseman says. “It’s something that the consumers say is valuable because they get to try something new.”
Maximizing the power of the commerce platform
“I’m a firm believer in agile work, testing, and learning,” says Roseman. “What does success look like in phase 1? How can we quickly build upon that and pivot? We don’t want to rest on success in phase 1.”
Looking ahead, another area of innovation for KIND is artificial intelligence (AI). Einstein AI can recommend relevant products and remind customers when their subscription order is coming up.
“I’m a big fan of using AI to enhance the consumer experience and help with guided selling,” he says. “It’s an area where we can definitely add value to the consumer.”
In fact, he and his team are actively rolling out new Einstein features on the site this year.
Staying true to kindness
For customers, loyalty goes beyond a fondness for delicious snacks. They believe in the brand’s mission to celebrate and inspire kindness. Recently, The KIND Foundation and Project N95 partnered to launch the Frontline Impact Project, a platform where healthcare institutions and other frontline response organizations can request resources, including masks, gowns, and gloves.
So far, the project has helped more than 316,000 frontline workers and inspired more than 50 other consumer goods companies to join the effort.
That’s the kind of company we can all get behind.
To learn how to get a D2C channel up and running quickly, discover the Quick Start for Direct-to-Consumer Commerce. To dig deeper into how to drive growth for your business, read our How to Jumpstart Growth in Commerce guide.