Digitally Native Brands Vs. Legacy Brands – Who Wins In 2021?


Over decades giant retailers and brands have dominated the market on a huge scale. However, the rise of internet usage and social media allows new brands to build their businesses online.

Let’s start with an introduction. Digitally native companies or brands are businesses that have only existed in the digital world, meaning ones that exist primarily, or entirely, online. Digitally native brands are usually e-commerce businesses, meaning online sales make up most or all of their sales. A great example for one is Gymshark.

On the other hand, legacy brands are long-lasting well-established brands that have been around for years, and their products many times are synonymous with the entire category. 

With such a tight grip over their industry, should they be worried about a drop-shipping garage project or an up-and-coming e-commerce brand?

The digitally native brands have a secret weapon, the internet. It helps them amplify their reach in a way that was possible a few years ago, the pre-facebook and pre-google era. Nowadays, big established brands and small up-and-coming brands all have equal access to the same advertising channels and tools. True, they have very different budgets and can invest much less, but what they do have is the expertise. 

These brands were born and raised online, they mastered e-commerce, advertising, social media, influencer marketing since day one.

And this is a huge difference, the advantage over legacy brands is not only because a significant number of consumers shop online, but also because they’re better positioned to build customer relationships, creating highly engaging content, and focusing on customer experience, and product personalization. 

Many times, digitally native brands do not have a brick-and-mortar store, because they are so successful online. But the irony is that they become so successful online that they end up opening a brick-and-mortar location, making them even more of a threat to businesses that have yet to embrace omnichannel retail.


The Flip

Somewhere down their growth journey, digitally native brands get in trouble, their operations get too big and it’s getting harder and harder to fulfill orders, track shipments, check and replenish stocks. This is where legacy brands have the advantage of the experience of moving products at scale.

There is a massive surge in legacy brands hiring e-commerce enablers, specialists, to keep up with the digitally native brands.

Legacy brands transition into digital will enables them to add features that are in high demand in the digital space:

Customization: Consumers are no longer satisfied by generic, one-size-fits-all product offerings. 

Convenience: From working long hours in the office to shuttling kids to sports practices to maintaining an active social life, today’s consumer is always on the go. As a result, they’re more likely to patronize brands that offer convenient solutions.

Meaningful Engagement: Companies with strong omnichannel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers.

And digitally native brands need the experience of moving products at scale.

Working with an experienced team of specialists to pack, pick, fulfill and track their orders is their only way to scale and have a real chance vs. the legacy brands.


So Who Wins?

Both can win. When it comes to online there is enough space for everyone, and experience can be bought, outsourcing e-commerce works both ways.


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