DTC operators can spend a lot of time researching and agonizing over different software options to add to their tech stack, only to select one that doesn’t deliver for their business.
Many people have asked me what I use, so I put together this post to share the software you should consider when launching a brand and why. These aren't just mobile applications, but rather, the core software products that power my businesses.
If you're looking for a best-in-class SMS marketing platform to handle commerce, notifications (order confirmation, order delivered, etc.), one-off campaigns, and more, you want to use PostScript.
If you're only looking to communicate 1:many or 1:1 but have no intention of using this SMS platform for commerce, I would recommend using Community.com. If you want to skip the line on Community, text SHARMA20 to (323) 310-2202 (or just click here), and you'll be led to set up your account.
If you’re looking for personalized cart recovery, I can’t stress enough that you NEED to have LiveRecover installed. They recover about 20-25% of abandoned carts on average, and for some brands, it means an extra $100k in revenue. Try it here.
Lastly, if you're a food/beverage with a subscription product or one where you don't want to over-deliver (because it leads to churn), like Olipop, you'll want to use Electric SMS.
This one is pretty straightforward: use Klaviyo.
Yotpo is the way to go with reviews. They are the largest company that handles reviews, cutting out the middlemen. Therefore, like Shopify, they have a massive team of engineers and product people who add new features, making the platform better. They acquire like-minded B2B companies and merchants that allow you to use one platform for many things.
If you are a brand looking to get on Yotpo, let me know, and I can connect you directly. They'll roll out the red carpet for you. They offer great, quick customer support.
I haven't found tons of companies that help here, but the one DTC app that I've used for a few years is Pixlee. They work with DTC brands but also companies like Airbnb and Cole Haan.
UGC plays an important role in your paid advertising campaigns, so it's essential that you focus on encouraging your customers to create it. You can do this in a variety of ways including UGC contests (and then promoting the content featuring a proud winner) and even awarding rewards loyalty points to those who post.
For simplicity’s sake, go with Yotpo. One of the companies they acquired was Swell Rewards, and now it's Yotpo Loyalty. It's effortless to use, easy to set up, and again if you want an intro, they will roll out the red carpet and help with a lot of the heavy lifting.
We probably get a loyalty/rewards program live each quarter and see incredible jumps in customer repeat purchases and higher AOV from the cohort in the loyalty program.
Post-Purchase Survey & Upsell:
Use Co-Op Commerce. While they are best known for their ability to drive revenue from the Order Confirmation pages of Sharma brands (like Haus, Brightland, Caraway, Black Wolf Nation, and JUDY), they also have a tremendous post-purchase survey and a module to upsell your products.
If you checkout at JUDY and buy a Mover Max or a Safe, you'll be presented with The Starter at checkout.
I'm sure there are tons here, but the main one I love to onboard is called Settle. If you're a brand, you can float your payments for 30 days (at 1%) or 60 days (at 2%). If you're a vendor/service provider, you can do the opposite. You can get paid instantly and let Settle deal with collecting the payment from whoever needs to pay. There are also credit payment options that you can explore.
This is a quick way to get the highest levels of your finances taken care of with comfort. Whether it's a Facebook bill you need to pay or a purchase order you'd like to finance from a brick and mortar store, Settle has you covered.
Ever wanted a Zapier for eCommerce? Enter: Alloy Automation. You can automate tasks related to marketing, fulfillment, operations, rewards, and more. You can view their marketplace of automation here to get a better understanding of the quick setup process and pleasant experience they offer.
It's never too early to take a percentage of net revenues and use it to help others. Shopping Gives allows you to set this up easily, and it takes less than 30 minutes. You can choose what charities you want to donate to or keep it open and let your customers decide. Shopping Gives takes care of all the back-end paperwork for you.
Octane AI is my go-to for this one. You no longer need a custom developer to build on-site personalization quizzes for your customers. Octane AI plugs right into Shopify and pulls your branding, so you just have to add the content and drive traffic.
I highly recommend Paloma for FB Messenger. Several tools can do it, but Paloma is not only the easiest to use, but they help you with flows. The platform even lets you A/B test different styles of flows and pushes you to find new arbitrages on Messenger.
Not to mention, as your first customers engage with you in Messenger, those users become addressable for one year. If you don't have the budget for SMS, I highly recommend starting with Paloma. It's a great way to turn an engaged consumer on social media into a customer.
The new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is pretty incredible and genuinely built for robust analytics views. You will need to set this up via Google Tag Manager, but it's free and worth it.
For heat maps, scroll depth charts, and user recordings, I recommend Microsoft Clarity. This program is also free, unlike Hotjar, which can get expensive. It will give you more data than you can get on an open Hotjar plan. It's run by Microsoft which is why it's free.
Quantcast Measure is the last analytics tool. It's not really for website analytics, but more for user analytics. You can look at demographic data of who's visiting your website, all the way down to what TV shows they enjoy watching, cars they drive, and publications they read. You'll learn about your online shoppers and look at them in an entirely new way.
The holy grail: Google Tag Manager (GTM). Once you install the GTM container pixel on your site, you'll be able to manage all your pixels from the GTM interface. This also makes sure you have a much less chance of accidentally breaking your site trying to add pixels.
While I usually would recommend AfterShip here, a new company has recently come out this year and has blown me away. It's called Malomo. I've gotten Caraway, JUDY, Maude, and a few others on it, and it's been a game-changer. Malomo can partner with your delivery services to ensure that your customers are getting the information they need.
Not only do you get opportunities for up-selling, but the customer experience is 10x more superior to any competitor on the market. Malomo is also cheaper than its competitors.
Gorgias is hands down my favorite customer service app. I haven't met a single person who's upset with Gorgias, and everyone who's switched from Zendesk to Gorgias is so mad they didn't change sooner.
You can get two months FREE to see if you like it by clicking here.
I advocate using landing pages to create custom experiences for lower-funnel acquisition or test new pages, new value propositions. They are also useful just to build a new page without using a developer.
You can use Unbounce or Instapage to create these in a drag and drop environment.
SEO is the one thing that many brands don't focus on in their early days. There's no software for this, as it's more lengthy work. An outstanding SEO agency will handle your content creation, backlink creation, manage your website blog, and help you rank for questions where your brand is the answer, not just your brand name.
A premium SEO agency can run anywhere from $5-15k per month and pays for itself within three months. If you would like an intro to the SEO team I work with, let me know!
Building your DTC tech stack
These apps are at the heart of the DTC tech stack for most of the companies I work with. All of the apps contribute to a wide range of objectives not limited to understanding our customer base better, lowering customer acquisition costs, and even tracking inventory or relationships with brick and mortar retailers.
Many of the software solutions listed above even have mobile app components (for iOS and Android), making it easier to check your analytics, pull up an order, trigger an email or interact with customers on a more meaningful basis. I am confident that you'll get the ROI you need after implementing these products in your business.