Millstein estimated that she upped the DTC marketing budget by about 5% month over month.
“The bigger the brand is online, the more people are going to be aware of it and going to grocery stores to find it,” Millstein said.
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Have some money in the bank
“Something that I didn't realize is how expensive it is to go into retail,” said Nadya Okamoto, CEO and co-founder of period product brand August. The previously DTC-only brand began rolling out in Target stores over the past few weeks.
“August has raised millions of dollars to date, and a lot of that is to support our growth of needing inventory. Before Target will agree to stock you on a number of shelves they need to know that you’re not going to run out of product,” Okamoto said.
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Getting a return on these retail investments can take a long time, Rodeo’s DeAngelo said. While DTC brands are typically used to getting paid right away, that’s not the case with most retailers—it can take 90 days for a DTC brand to see cash from someone purchasing their products in a store, he explained.
Going into retail is not only expensive but also very capital-intensive, DeAngelo continued, adding that “both of those things can be shocking to a brand that's only sold DTC.”
There are a few ways for DTC brands to roughly calculate what entering a retailer would cost them. For instance, DeAngelo said that if a brand is selling $1 million of product, he’d estimate that a brand’s cost of goods (such as packaging and ingredients) would be about 50% of that, leaving it with $500,000. He then subtracts roughly 30% for trade and promotions, such as deals, setup fees, allowances for spoilage and more. After that, the brand would be left with $200,000 to pay for staff and other expenses.
“Many brands that we come across are actually losing money on every unit sold in retail through typical distribution, and that's usually a wild surprise for many of these founders,” DeAngelo said.