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DTC Lessons: Scaling DTC brands with pb+j

Each week, we're chatting to an expert in the eCommerce space to share their wisdom on building a resilient DTC brand in 2022 and beyond. This week we're handing the mic to Kyle Dutka, Co-Founder at pb+j.


Take it away Kyle …

Interview with  Kyle Dutka, Co-Founder at pb+j

Let us know your role and what you do day to day.

Co-Founder: I unlock potential in our team, who unlock potential for our patrons. (I also cook up a mean Zoom.)

It’s a tough year for eCommerce. Which area should DTC brands be focusing their time and efforts towards, and why?

Focus on what is working for you, and learning from what didn’t. There are brands that have the market happen to them, and brands that happen upon the market. Who do you want to be? (If you’re not sure where to start, start with retention.)

At pb+j you help leading brands to grow and scale. Can you give us some success stories with DTC brands. 

1. High-end Home Goods Brand

  • Problem: They have a unique and premium vent product that customers did not understand. The lack of clarity around the product, the hidden value proposition, and the narrative for the higher price affected their conversion rate and all core site metrics in a big way. They came to us to build a new site experience that would improve things.  
  • Solution: On top of redesigning the entire buyer journey and giving a comprehensive facelift to the site's design, we focused on clarity surrounding what the product was, how it worked, and the value it brought to discerning homeowners. We developed a key homepage animation that showcased an expanded and interactive look at the product and in-situ application. In a few seconds, this helped things 'click' for the customers, and the results showed.
  • Result: Conversion rate increased by 320%, return customer rate increased by 34%, and overall revenue increased by 300%

2. Women-run Clothing Brand

  • Problem: We were tasked with increasing BFCM revenues and overall success as compared to the previous year.  
  • Solution: We combed through the previous year's data, did an audit of the site and past BFCM campaigns, and formulated a strategy that focused on revenue, conversion, and site speed. We built out new landing pages, adjusted the content, adjusted the cart, and implemented a handful of other tweaks.
  • Result: Conversion rate increased by 80%, site speed improved by 13%, and overall BFCM revenue increased by 175% YoY

3. Cult-following Coffee Brand

  • Problem: They had rebranded and were expanding their eComm reach outside of their core retail channel. They were looking to engage customers better online and grow their revenue performance.  
  • Solution: We focused on extending the functionality of the site and offers (such as subscriptions, bundles, etc.) in order to increase AOV and CLTV (better engagement), and we looked to refine the UX and product arch to allow customers to find their coffee faster.  
  • Result: Conversion rate increased by 45%, return customer rate increased by 24%, and overall revenue increased by 36%

You specialize in scaling DTC brands - what piece of advice would you give to DTC brands who want to improve their growth? 

I think the most potent advice I could give brands in 2023 isn’t a CVR pro-tip, or an AOV hack. (There are much smarter people to speak to that.) What I would challenge brands on though is to really reflect on their habits. There’s this fantastic quote from FM Alexander that says: “People do not decide their futures; they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” I think we forget how habitual we are as brands—our marketing cadence, how we digest customer feedback, the mindset we show up to that strat session with—nearly everything is a habit if we really consider it. Simply slowing it down in trying to force a future that we can’t actually control, and redirect that focus to creating or evolve habits, which we can control, that then go about delivering the future we want.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing right now in DTC Which of these should DTC brands jump on, and which should they avoid?

 Avoid jumping on trends if they don’t serve your vision or strategy? :) (Geeeeeeze, Kyle. We came for the goods!) Ok, two areas to really consider right now: in retention keep an eye on the fast rising importance of owned channels, particularly SMS. In conversion, consider the shift to incremental data-driven optimization, over massive capital-intensive bets.

If you could tell DTC brands to stop making one mistake, what would it be?

Stop the addiction to (vanity) metrics that don’t (actually) move your vision and strategy forward.

Complete the sentence: DTC brands that survive and thrive in 2022 will ____.

Adopt a growth mindset as a brand, and focus on those brand habits that drive the future they desire. (And don’t forget to have a bit of a fun along the journey ya?)

Who are 3 people in the eCommerce ecosystem you look up to and recommend everyone should follow?

  1. Rachel Jacobs, bringing the Agency Avengers together!
  2. James Trippett, BAO – a legend in ecomm, and one generous with his insights
  3. Eric Alder, Rebuy – building and leading one of the most exciting and innovative teams in eCommerce tech I’ve seen in a long while

Thanks Kyle! Where can we hear more from yourself & pb+j?

You can find out more about pb+j via our website, and you can follow me on Linkedin.

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