Dri-Glo debuts its first direct-to-consumer model

We detail how the Australian towels and bedsheets brand is taking its inaugural steps into ecommerce

Winning over the millennial generation of consumers and taking advantage of rapid digital take-up has led iconic 90-year-old Australian brand, Dri-Glo, to take its first steps into direct-to-consumer commerce.

Dri-Glo is owned by Caprice, a 60-year-old, family-owned Australian company largely focused on licensing, wholesaling and white-labelling products under retail and other licensed brands. The Dri-Glo brand itself started in Melbourne in 1930 producing towels and gained iconic status after being chosen as the athletics towel for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. It has since grown to a range of bathroom, bedroom and living room soft linens available through retailers such as Spotlight and Harris Scarfe.

Up until this month, Dri-Glo had an information-oriented website. Having seen the growth in digital take-up over the last 20 months of the Covid pandemic, along with the exponential increase in home and interior product purchasing during lockdowns, Caprice commenced a direct-to-consumer project to bring a Dri-Glo ecommerce offering to life.

It’s the first ecommerce project Caprice has undertaken. The company’s Australian digital and ecommerce manager, Sally Cordukes, was brought on to spearhead the work and told CMO it’s been a big learning curve and journey both individually as well as for the organisation.

“Like a lot of retail businesses, we saw a boon last year in ecommerce sales. So at the end of last year the decision was made to jumped into ecommerce,” she said. “Our great product team designed a premium and exclusive ecommerce range. We wanted to jump in, see how it can go and hopefully create a new growth engine for the business.”

Inaugural ecommerce offering

The Dri-Glo ecommerce offering was soft launched in September and initially focuses on an exclusive range pitched at a higher price point, with different textures and colours including a 50 per cent linen offering. There are 140 SKUs on offer across 40 bedroom, bathroom and living products. Longer-term, the team will look to do new colours seasonally, as well as sales items, and further extend the product portfolio once it’s proved out the ecommerce concept.

The first step was hiring an ecommerce manager, while the second was finding the right Web development agency. Caprice is working with the Melbourne-based arm of Overdose, a Shopify partner specialising in ecommerce builds, and based its site on the Shopify platform.

“We also did a deep dive into competitors and into what a good website looks like in the interiors space, as well as what a great customer experience looks like end-to-end,” Cordukes said.

From there, Cordukes worked to build capability from the ground up, focusing on front-end design through to helping the warehouse comes to terms with ecommerce dispatch. This has included warehouse management software (WMS) integration with the website, as well as figuring out pick and pack, where to slot products, packaging and range. It’s taken 10 months to go from concept to soft launch.

“We are so used to doing B2B, the high turnover and quickness of DTC in terms of getting orders out and fulfilment is very different to palette-based product delivery,” she noted.

In terms of site capabilities, the big emphasis was allowing people to pick and choose colours, accessorise and design their own bedsheets.

“Consumers like that product personalisation, which also provides an added incentive to create a larger basket size and higher average order value for us,” Cordukes said. “Homewares, especially bed linen, is a considered purchase. The average basket size is between $250 to $270. We wanted to give them the freedom, even across towels, to choose from a single towel through to family bundle and pass on the savings to them.”  

A range of incentives have been created at launch, including loyalty offers as well as email marketing around abandoned cart, browser abandonment and birthdays recognition. A number of post-purchase incentives are in play too, including discounts for customer reviews as well as cards in product packaging providing discounts on next purchase. The site also has social logins.

Cordukes said Dri-Glo had planned a raft of consumer marketing activities to support the launch including an in-person activation. Given ongoing lockdowns and uncertainty, Dri-Glo instead opted for a soft launch of the website followed by a digital play in coming weeks.  

For media, the team has crafted a bedroom ‘blow up’ activity to celebrate the launch. Journalists have been asked to send in an image of their bedrooms, then assigned a stylist who will create an individualised mood board featuring towels and bed linen selections from the Dri-Glo range, plus personalised custom gifts.

Customer-facing launch campaigning, meanwhile, includes signing on Kara and Kyal from The Block for a social signup incentive giving consumers the opportunity to win a bedroom makeover from the dynamic duo. Cordukes said Dri-Glo worked with the pair previously on a licensed level, who have their own homewares range.

“We can’t do in-person activation, so we decided to just get the website up, and over the next 3-4 weeks we’ll do a big push through PR, media then ramp up advertising to generate a bigger turnover of customers,” she said.  

Alongside the ecommerce build, the Dri-Glo team undertook profiling to identify its ideal customers, using both PR and agency insights as well as owned social profiles. This resulted in four main cohorts, largely women, and across the 25-35, 35-45 and over 44-year-old age brackets. These have been split into single income, double income with no kids, families and then grandparents.

“We are a heritage brand, and there are a lot of consumers who grew up with Dri-Glo. We want to connect with these audiences as well,” Cordukes said. “Being ecommerce it’s harder, but most of the older generation have made online purchases in the last 18 months due to Covid.”  

Social media and Google Shoppable advertising are key elements in the digital mix. Cordukes noted Pinterest as a potentially strong social platform to drive awareness and clickthrough.

“But you also need multiple touchpoints – great customer service, product styling, social media, press, influencers, returns processes. It’s everything from that first time they see you on Pinterest or Instagram, through to when they check out and post-purchase,” she continued. “Working out what works and what doesn’t, looking at what we need to implement and where to put our money, is the biggest focus for me.”  

To help, Dri-Glo is working with digital agency partners specialising in ecommerce advertising especially Shopify and building out competitor ads on Google as well as Google shoppable ads, linking all through headless ecommerce. Dynamic retargeting with Facebook and Instagram is also on the cards.

“I will be interested to see how that goes with iOS14 changes, and what happens there, given the less defined targeting that will then be in play, as opposed to user-generated content, influencer marketing and Google,” Cordukes said.

“We do have that brand awareness and we’re known. The biggest market to try and capture is the 25–35-year-olds that might not be familiar with the Dri-Glo. That’s a real social media marketing opportunity with influencers like The Block, and digital pushes with younger publications to gain more visibility.”

Caprice is very much taking a watch and see approach to the first few months and produced stock with a retail value of about $1 million to support the launch. With the majority of revenue coming from licensing deals with big box retailers such as Big W, Kmart, Target and Best and Less, direct-to-consumer is clearly an incremental idea at this point.  

However, have acquired the Mambo brand about five years ago, Cordukes flagged plans to extend its ecommerce capabilities to the iconic Aussie brand through a more premium offering harking back to the Mambo of old.

“We’re planning to build that in the next eight weeks. That’s a second ecommerce offering, so we will see what success looks then explore where we can look to expand,” she added.

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