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Direct-to-Consumer

How a B2B Snack Food Pioneer Tackled D2C Channels – And Won

Learn how health food company KIND Snacks crafted its direct-to-consumer sales and subscription service to create deeper customer connections, increase their customer knowledge, and build an innovative (and successful) ecommerce channel.

two people looking inside an open delivery box
A D2C channel isn’t just about creating a new channel to sell products. It’s creating the infrastructure that will power intelligent, data-driven decision making for the business. [Tijana87 / Getty Images]

Snack food brand KIND Snacks is a top-selling nut bar on Amazon and its health-focused products are available nationwide – at supermarkets, specialty stores, and big-box retailers. When its business began in 2004, KIND built a strong B2B distribution model with great success. The next step? Tackling the untapped opportunity of direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels. Here’s how KIND uses its D2C channel to sell more and more deeply connect with customers – and how other consumer goods companies can prepare for what’s next in commerce.

KIND’s investment has paid off, but its D2C channels are about more than just revenue. During the pandemic, they kicked off a subscription service for consumers to access their snacks without brick-and-mortar stores. Direct online sales allow the brand to build meaningful personal relationships with loyal customers. And KIND has the benefit of a differentiated brand experience and a way to weather future disruptions.

Direct online sales allow the brand to build meaningful personal relationships with loyal customers. And KIND has the benefit of a differentiated brand experience and a way to weather future disruptions.

D2C channels build brand loyalty

Owning the ecommerce experience helps KIND connect with customers and differentiate from other snack brands. In-store, customers may only see a handful of SKUs. Online, customers have access to the full selection of KIND snacks – site visitors can browse and explore over 80 varieties from home. 

KIND also differentiates its D2C channel through the Build Your Own Box subscription service. No longer limited by the options available in-store, KIND customers can customize their own boxes, try new products, and make changes anytime.

In-store, customers may only see a handful of SKUs. Online, customers have access to the full selection of KIND snacks – site visitors can browse and explore over 80 varieties from home.

Freddie Roseman, senior director of digital technologies at KIND, sees subscription boxes as a way to give customers control over their experience. “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,” he said. “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.”

Create a more frictionless customer experience

A seamless subscription service helps KIND tap into a recurring, predictable revenue stream independent of its B2B channels.

To launch Build Your Own Box, KIND worked with Ordergroove, a Salesforce partner that helps brands bring subscription, reordering, and membership programs to market. When B2B brands implement new D2C channels, they must consider the entire value chain – often for the first time. This includes marketing and selling to end consumers, as well as the operations and logistics necessary to get products to their doorsteps.

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.

Freddie Roseman, senior director of digital technologies, KIND SNACKS

Frictionless shopping experiences on D2C channels – from building a subscription box online to order fulfillment – require cross-functional teams and tasks. KIND relies on Commerce Cloud to win more customers and drive loyalty. It helps them provide a seamless customer journey from marketing, to sales, to commerce, fulfillment, service, and beyond.

“[Our subscription offering] is a customized box based on consumer choices from the site, so we spent a lot of time on the logistics,” Roseman said. “We partnered really closely with our fulfillment part of the house.” 

D2C channels make the most of first-party data 

The same commerce platform that powers Build Your Own Box also gives KIND access to first-party data and rich audience insights. A D2C strategy is not merely about creating a new channel to sell products. It’s creating the infrastructure that will power intelligent, data-driven decision making for the business.

First-party data – information that your brand collects from customers and owns – helps marketing, product, and commerce teams learn more about shopper behavior and helps teams make data-driven decisions.

KIND now knows which products are often purchased together, and what type of content increases page views. The brand also uses 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 said. “It’s something that the consumers say is valuable because they get to try something new.”

KIND now knows which products are often purchased together, and what type of content increases page views. The brand also uses subscription boxes to introduce new products to customers.

When building a subscription box, customers have the opportunity to check out the newest product additions. The brand can track which new products get reordered the most, ensuring that they make the right choices to keep customers coming back.

KIND relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to increase engagement and customer satisfaction. By implementing Einstein AI to personalized experiences, KIND customers receive relevant product recommendations and reminders when their next subscription order approaches. When 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized, this is quickly becoming the cost of entry for brands building new D2C models.

“I’m a big fan of using AI to enhance the consumer experience and help with guided selling,” Rosenman said. “It’s an area where we can definitely add value to the consumer.”

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