Retention Expert Kristen LaFrance On The Golden Era Of Commerce

Hear how shifting your mindset from DTC to direct-to-people (DTP) can skyrocket your brand’s bottom line.

Kristen LaFrance is a huge advocate for people before metrics. Because if her years of experience as a retention expert taught her one thing, it’s this: Great customer experiences naturally lead to customer retention. 

In this episode of The Checkout, Kristen breaks down her “direct-to-people” playbook of achieving extraordinary outcomes when brands put people at the heart of their business. Find out:

  • Actionable steps to embrace a direct-to-people (DTP) mindset
  • Examples of top brands that practice a DTP approach without sacrificing their bottom line
  • How customer retention feeds into a brand’s operational goals

Tune in on: Apple | Google | Spotify

“Brands that have a story, a purpose, a mission, a reason that they exist outside of we-made-a product-and-we-want-to-sell-it, those are the brands that are honing in on that human to human connection and understanding where their products fit into a larger life that their customers are living. It leads to real customer relationships. It leads to product innovation.”
Kristen LaFrance, mayor of DTC twitter & retention expert

Meet Kristen LaFrance

Kristen LaFrance is rightfully called a customer retention expert. She is also the mayor of DTC Twitter. 

Previously she was the director of community at Repeat and hosted the Resilient Retail podcast for Shopify. Her written work has appeared on Privy, Honest eCommerce, and Modern Retail.

When she’s not growing communities or running customer experience audits, she spends her time hiking in the mountains of Colorado or obsessing over her rescue dogs. 

Connect with Kirsten on: LinkedIn | Twitter

About DTC Fam

The DTC Fam is a friendly community of DTC enthusiasts started by Kristen LaFrance. Follow this group and learn about DTC brand marketing playbooks, what’s happening in retail, celebrating wins, and connecting with friendly people from the DTC community. 

Learn more about DTC Fam on: Twitter

The Checkout episode 10 unpacks:

In today’s episode, Kristen LaFrance, mayor of DTC Twitter, breaks down how DTC brands can pull ahead as commerce shifts to be more customer-centric.

Here are the highlights:


The new golden age of commerce is here

  • The original meaning of commerce is a way for human beings to connect, to trade, to share things, to share values, and to build a community around the things that we need in our lives
  • With  tracking and privacy regulations changing in favor of customers, DTC is now shifting to DTP (direct-to-people)
  • “We’re shifting our approach in this data-backed world where customers are requiring us to be more humans in our conversations. It’s actually golden commerce. It’s commerce for the consumer, not just commerce for the brands who are trying to make money.”

Top brands doing DTP well

  • The consumer has the power to choose where they want to shop, where they want to spend money, how they want to deliver it, how they want to pay and brands on top of this shift will stand out
  • Brands like Blume have strong customer relationships that lead to product innovation, their community helps them create products and figure out what’s coming next
  • “Brands that have a story, a purpose, a mission, a reason that they exist outside of we-made-a product-and-we-want-to-sell-it, those are the brands that are honing in on that human to human connection”

How brands can "niche down" without hurting bottomline

  • Niching down to DTP doesn’t have to mean niching down in terms of SKUs but niching it down on their purpose, values and messaging
  • Who is your best use case customers? The ones that have the highest engagement across multiple channels? Find those and start talking to them
  • “My advice for like niching down is to find those people. Figure out what your definition of success is, what does your most successful customer look like?

How customer retention empowers operational goals

  • You can use all that data on your customer to build the ideal persona and direct your marketing but you can also use it from an operational standpoint in terms of setting expectations in your fulfillment
  • The conversation around customer retention is how do we continue to build an experience throughout the entire process from marketing to fulfillment in a way that creates a holistic customer experience?
  • “All of these transactional messages that are going to be sent that your customers are going to get opened because we are all trained to open our orders and it’s an opportunity to build that brand narrative into all of those touch points.”

Actionable ways to do a retention audit

  • It helps to do a retention audit by bringing in a third party like an ecommerce expert, your bestfriend or your mother who can help you see the larger vision of how is everything working? How does the brand feel?
  • Founders should experience being a customer and run though the phases of experiencing the brand, from paid ads and social media to emails and customer service
  • “The best piece of advice I can give is to do that exercise of zooming out, you can do that as a founder.”

Kristen’s message to DTC brands

  • The macro trends about the supply chain, paid ads going down, challenge in tracking and privacy laws, commerce is going back to what it’s meant to be
  • “Commerce is meant to connect human beings together around shared ideas, shared products and shared missions. Your mission should be to make people’s lives better, to service them with something that they want, need or really enjoy.”