Interview: How Kind Snacks Is Implementing Direct-To-Consumer Retail

Interview: How Kind Snacks Is Implementing Direct-To-Consumer Retail
Food & Beverage

The snack-food retailer dedicated to wholesome ingredients that are kind to people and the environment is focusing on its e-commerce presence to enhance its connection to consumers

PSFK
  • 23 may 2018

Thanks to advances in e-commerce, now brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves using their own distribution channels, permitting them greater freedom in their marketing choices as well as allowing them to connect more directly with their consumers.

Though Kind Snacks uses retailers like Amazon and Walmart to sell its products, now it’s developing online distribution of its own. For PSFK’s podcast, Kind’s vice president of e-commerce Jarid Lukin spoke to PSFK founder Piers Fawkes about how direct-to-consumer retail is benefitting his brand as well as the demands driving the creation of its own channel and how it serves to complement existing ones.

Piers: Can you tell me a little bit about the trends that you see driving change, particularly within your current business?

Jarid: It’s important for us to have a direct relationship with the consumer, which is why we’re investing in our own direct-to-consumer business. For us, it’s important to figure out how to differentiate our site and our experience from that of our retail partners like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, FreshDirect.com or anyone else in the space.

Is it important that you explore and develop new distribution channels of your own rather than relying on those of your retail partners?

It’s a question of growing the total pie, so to speak. I don’t care where people buy Kind Bars—I just want to make sure they’re buying them. Whether that’s when they walk into their local grocery store, or they’re shopping online, or if they’re coming directly to my site, I just want to make sure they have the right experience and the right information to be able to choose Kind compared to our competitors. Amazon’s not a competitor. Walmart is not a competitor. Those are our retail partners. We have to figure out how to complement their business and help grow the Kind business at those places as well as grow our direct channel.

Can you talk a little bit about routes you’re taking to explore the online experience?

There are many things we’re starting to do. We put the strategy in place and now we’re starting on that journey to begin executing it. From a technology standpoint, you have to take advantage of what the channel offers compared to a retail channel. We look at some of the things we can do online from a personalization standpoint, from a customization standpoint and from an inventory standpoint.

Online, I don’t have to worry about shelf space. I can have a much wider assortment. I could have exclusive flavors. I can create my own variety packs. These aspects differentiate us from the rest of our channels and offer something unique. We think that’s what’s going to be compelling from a purchase standpoint for consumers.

What I’m hearing is you can free yourself from constraints like shelf size because you have a new way—you basically have a direct-to-consumer model.

Correct. Shelf space and product position on the shelf is critical to both the retailer and the manufacturer. From my standpoint, I’ve got unlimited shelf space. I don’t have to worry as much about how quickly the items are turning. Our products all have 6 to 12 months of expiration built into them. Walmart doesn’t want a product sitting on its shelves for several months. They’ve got to make sure they’re turning those bars quickly. I can be a little bit more conservative and make sure I’ve got enough inventory in my warehouse.

E-commerce provides a feedback loop into both marketing and product because of the audience’s reaction, right?

Right, because of the relationship that we have now directly with consumers. When you’re a manufacturer that’s only selling through third parties you don’t have that relationship with those consumers. You’re relying on others for data whereas we’re getting the data directly ourselves, allowing us to A, collect more data, and B, react faster to that data and use that for sales and marketing.

Kind Snacks

Kind Snacks’ use of direct-to-consumer retail represents just one way that brands are benefitting from developing their own channels, either in addition to others or as their sole distribution route. For more information on how companies are investing in forging direct connections with their consumers as well as the business implications of doing so, see PSFK’s podcast on Direct-To-Consumer Retail.


Lead image: Kind Snacks via Facebook

Thanks to advances in e-commerce, now brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves using their own distribution channels, permitting them greater freedom in their marketing choices as well as allowing them to connect more directly with their consumers.

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