Strategies will focus more on interactive experiences and building deeper emotional connections with shoppers.
It may be dangerous for an e-commerce startup to launch in the face of Amazon, but Brandless is confident it can peacefully co-exist with the retail giant.
“I don’t think we compete with Amazon today,” said Tina Sharkey, CEO of recently-launched direct-to-consumer startup Brandless — an online-only CPG brand that offers a limited range of products at $3 each.
“Amazon may have thousands of shampoos. We have one…Brandless is about editing and curating.”
Sharkey spoke onstage at CB Insights’ 2017 A-Ha! conference, accompanied by Rick Prostko, partner at Comcast Ventures, and George Babu, co-founder of Kindred — a developer of robots for use in retail warehousing.
Brandless also focuses on building relationships, Sharkey emphasized, arguing that the direct-to-consumer model is not just a new distribution method, but a way to build deeper emotional connections with shoppers.
One of Comcast Venture’s earlier investments was into Dollar Shave Club, which also applies the direct-to-consumer model to products traditionally sold in groceries or convenience stores.
But despite the emphasis on D2C, none of the panelists believed that physical retail is dead — though Prostko and Sharkey agreed that brick-and-mortar strategies will focus less on stores, and more on interactive experiences, brand showcases, workshops, and more in the future.
Kindred hopes to follow the e-commerce-to-brick-and-mortar model — though from a B2B perspective. The startup provides robots to aid e-commerce companies in packing and shipping, but plans to ultimately move toward in-store robots that can interact with consumers.
“We may slowly move toward the front of the store, and then into peoples’ homes, as the robots learn how to interact with humans,” said George Babu.