In the ever-evolving world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, securing funding can be a daunting task. However, partnerships with established retailers can provide a powerful solution.
By leveraging the strengths of both parties, DTC brands can tap into a wider audience and gain valuable exposure, while retailers can offer their customers unique and innovative products. This mutually beneficial arrangement also catches the attention of venture capitalists, who are eager to invest in brands that demonstrate potential for growth and profitability.
In this article, we’ll explore the power of partnerships in securing venture capital investment for DTC brands and how retail collaborations can be the key to success. We’ll also take a closer look at examples of successful partnerships and the benefits they bring to both DTC brands and retailers. So, if you’re a DTC brand looking to secure funding or a retailer seeking to expand your offerings, read on to discover the power of partnerships.
Today’s competitive landscape
In the past decade, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have gained significant attention and investment from venture capitalists (VCs). However, as the market has evolved and become more saturated, VCs have become more selective in their investments. Today, DTC brands often need retail partners to secure venture capital investment, as investors are increasingly looking for proof of a brand’s viability and potential for growth.
One reason for this shift is that many DTC brands have become reliant on paid marketing, which can lead to plateauing growth. As a result, investors are now seeking businesses with established wholesale and retail relationships as evidence of their ability to scale and reach new customers. However, as customer acquisition costs have risen and competition has intensified, many DTC brands have shifted back to brick-and-mortar models, opening their own stores or partnering with established retailers like Target and Nordstrom.
DTC brands today need retail partners to secure venture capital investment because investors are increasingly looking for proof of a brand’s ability to scale and reach new customers through established retail channels. As the market has evolved and become more saturated, having retail partnerships has become a crucial factor in attracting VC investment and ensuring long-term success for DTC brands.
Benefits of retail partnerships and collaborations
Partnerships and collaborations between DTC brands and retailers offer a range of benefits that can help both parties achieve their goals. For DTC brands, partnering with a retailer can offer access to a wider audience and exposure to new markets. This can be particularly valuable for brands that are just starting out or looking to expand their reach. By leveraging the retailer’s existing customer base and marketing channels, DTC brands can gain valuable exposure and increase their brand awareness.
For retailers, partnerships with DTC brands can offer a range of benefits as well. By offering unique and innovative products that are not available through other channels, retailers can differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide a more compelling offering to their customers. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business, as well as a boost in sales and revenue.
Lastly, partnerships and collaborations can also be attractive to venture capitalists, who are always on the lookout for promising investment opportunities. By demonstrating a successful partnership with a retailer, DTC brands can show investors that they have the potential for growth and profitability, which can lead to increased investment and further growth opportunities.
Overview of venture capital investment
Before diving into the specifics of how partnerships can help secure venture capital investment for DTC brands, it’s important to understand what venture capital investment is and how it works.
Venture capital investment is a type of private equity investment that is typically made in early-stage companies with high growth potential. Venture capitalists invest in companies with the goal of achieving a high return on their investment, usually through an IPO or acquisition by a larger company. Unlike traditional bank loans or angel investments, venture capital investments are often made in exchange for equity in the company. This means that the venture capitalist becomes a shareholder in the company and has a say in how the company is run.
Venture capital investment can be a valuable source of funding for DTC brands, particularly those that are just starting out or looking to expand their reach. However, securing venture capital investment can be a challenging process, and many DTC brands struggle to attract the attention of venture capitalists.
How partnerships can help secure venture capital investment
One of the key ways that partnerships can help secure venture capital investment for DTC brands is by demonstrating the potential for growth and profitability. By partnering with a retailer, DTC brands can show investors that they have the ability to scale their business and reach a wider audience.
In addition, partnerships can also help DTC brands overcome some of the challenges that often prevent them from securing venture capital investment. For example, many DTC brands struggle to stand out in a crowded market or to gain traction with customers. By partnering with a retailer, DTC brands can leverage the retailer’s existing customer base and marketing channels to gain valuable exposure and increase their brand awareness.
Partnerships can also be attractive to venture capitalists because they demonstrate that the DTC brand has a solid business model and a clear path to profitability. By working closely with a retailer, DTC brands can refine their business model and ensure that they are offering products that are in demand and that can generate revenue.
Examples of successful partnership-driven funding for DTC brands
There are many examples of successful partnership-driven funding for DTC brands. By collaborating with like-minded retailers and investors, DTC brands can access new markets, increase brand awareness, and secure funding to fuel their growth. Here are some examples of successful partnership-driven funding for DTC brands:
The mattress company Casper has been a pioneer in the DTC space, raising over $340 million in funding from various investors, including Target. In 2017, Target invested $75 million in Casper, and the two companies formed a strategic partnership that brought Casper products to Target stores nationwide. This partnership not only provided Casper with significant funding but also expanded its reach to a broader audience.
The beauty brand Glossier has raised over $186 million in funding, with notable investors such as Sequoia Capital and IVP. In addition to its online presence, Glossier has formed partnerships with brick-and-mortar retailers like Nordstrom to host pop-up shops, further expanding its customer base and increasing brand visibility.
Sustainable footwear brand Allbirds has raised over $200 million in funding from investors like T. Rowe Price and Fidelity. The company has also formed partnerships with traditional retailers, such as Nordstrom, to bring its eco-friendly shoes to a wider audience. These partnerships have helped Allbirds grow its brand and reach new customers who may not have discovered the brand through online channels alone.
DTC supplement and multivitamin brand Ritual secured a retail partnership with Whole Foods in 2022, allowing it to reach a broader market with an already established customer base that matches its target audience. This partnership not only expanded Ritual’s reach but also lowered its marketing costs, contributing to its overall success.
Eyewear brand Warby Parker has raised over $535 million in funding from investors like General Catalyst and Tiger Global Management. The company has successfully transitioned from a purely online model to opening over 200 brick-and-mortar stores across North America. This expansion was made possible through strategic partnerships with retail giants like Target, which helped Warby Parker reach new customers and solidify its position as a leading eyewear brand.
These examples demonstrate the power of strategic partnerships in driving growth and securing funding for DTC brands. As the DTC landscape continues to evolve, partnerships will remain a critical component of success for brands looking to thrive in this competitive market.
How to identify the right retail partnerships for your brand
When it comes to identifying the right retail partnerships for your DTC brand, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to look for retailers that share your brand values and target audience. This will help to ensure that your products are a good fit for the retailer’s customer base and that you are able to create a compelling offering that resonates with their audience. To find the best retail partners for your brand, consider the following tips:
Identifying the right retail partnerships for your brand is crucial for business growth and success. Retail partnerships can help expand your reach, increase sales, and enhance customer loyalty. To find the best retail partners for your brand, consider the following tips:
Alignment with goals
Before approaching potential retail partners, define your business goals and objectives. Look for partners who share similar goals and can complement your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
Choose retail partners whose target audience aligns with yours. This will ensure that your products or services appeal to their existing customer base, increasing the chances of successful collaboration.
Brand positioning and identity
Partner with brands that have a similar positioning and identity in the market. This will help maintain consistency in your brand image and messaging, making it easier for customers to associate your products or services with the partnered brand.
Shared values and ethics
It’s essential to collaborate with retail partners who share your brand’s values and ethics. This will create a strong foundation for a long-lasting partnership and ensure that both parties are working towards the same goals.
Consider the size and scale of the potential retail partner. Partnering with a well-established brand can provide your brand with increased visibility and credibility. However, partnering with smaller, niche brands can also be beneficial if they cater to a specific target audience that aligns with your brand.
Research potential partners
Thoroughly research potential retail partners to understand their business model, product offerings, and reputation in the market. This will help you determine if they are a good fit for your brand and vice versa.
Test the partnership
Before committing to a long-term partnership, consider testing the collaboration on a smaller scale. This could involve co-marketing campaigns, featuring each other’s products in-store, or hosting co-sponsored events. Measure the results and use this information to decide whether to continue the partnership.
Evaluate the partnership agreement
Carefully review the terms of the partnership agreement to ensure that costs, responsibilities, and profit-sharing are clear and fair to both parties.
Network and build relationships
Attend industry events, trade shows, and conferences to network with potential retail partners. Building relationships with key players in your industry can open doors to new partnership opportunities.
￼It’s important to consider the logistics of the partnership. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the retailer’s policies and procedures, as well as any fees or commissions associated with the partnership.
By following these tips, you can identify the right retail partners for your brand and create successful collaborations that benefit both parties. Remember, a strong retail partnership can help your brand grow, reach new audiences, and achieve long-term success.
Best practices for approaching potential retail partners
When approaching potential partners, it’s important to be strategic and thoughtful in your approach. Start by researching potential partners and identifying those that are a good fit for your brand. Once you’ve identified a few potential partners, reach out to them with a clear and concise pitch that highlights the value that your brand can bring to their customers.
Be prepared to provide data and metrics that demonstrate the potential for growth and profitability, as well as any success stories or case studies that showcase your brand’s ability to create compelling products and experiences.
Finally, be flexible and open to feedback. The best partnerships are those that are built on a foundation of mutual respect and trust, so be willing to listen to the retailer’s feedback and to work collaboratively to create a successful partnership.
Key elements of a successful partnership agreement
When entering into a partnership agreement with a retailer, it’s important to ensure that the agreement is clear and comprehensive. Key elements of a successful partnership agreement may include:
- A clear description of the products or services that will be offered through the partnership
- A timeline for the partnership, including any milestones or goals that need to be achieved
- A clear understanding of the retailer’s policies and procedures, including any fees or commissions associated with the partnership
- A plan for marketing and promotion, including any joint marketing initiatives or co-branded campaigns
- A plan for managing inventory and logistics, including any shipping or fulfillment requirements
- A process for resolving disputes or issues that may arise during the partnership
Measuring the success of your partnership-driven funding
Once you’ve established a partnership with a retailer and secured venture capital investment, it’s important to measure the success of your partnership-driven funding. There are several metrics that you can use to track the success of your partnership, including:
- Sales and revenue generated through the partnership
- Customer acquisition and retention rates
- Brand awareness and exposure
- Customer satisfaction and feedback
By tracking these metrics and analyzing the data, you can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your partnership and identify areas for improvement or further investment.
Partnerships and collaborations between DTC brands and retailers can be a powerful tool for securing venture capital investment and driving growth and profitability. By leveraging the strengths of both parties, DTC brands can tap into a wider audience and gain valuable exposure, while retailers can offer their customers unique and innovative products.
This mutually beneficial arrangement also catches the attention of venture capitalists, who are eager to invest in brands that demonstrate potential for growth and profitability. By following best practices and identifying the right partners, DTC brands can create successful partnerships that drive long-term success and growth.
Jeanel has 15 years of retail, marketing and brand management experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2019, after working in corporate retail and real estate as a senior managing director and former consultant. She's traveled all over the world, speaks at world renowned trade shows and events, holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce (B.Comm) and a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate. You can connect with her on Linkedin.