This article was originally posted in May 2017 with the intention to inform brands on the benefits of moving direct-to-consumer. We could not have known then how drastically the world of brands would change, and need to change, among swift economic disruption.
What Has Changed?
Since this post, we have been working with some of the best brands in ecommerce to help them launch, manage, and grow their ecommerce. In that time, we have learned that these six brand benefits to start selling direct-to-consumer below have not changed. What has changed, is how the brands we work with on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, are better equipped to anticipate and adjust buying patterns, see trends in real-time, engage and create loyalty with their customers, and be flexible by shifting to new business models, including Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS).
While you explore the rest of this article, please know that statistics continue to change, now more quickly than ever. What doesn’t change is the demand for shoppers to get what they want, how they want it.
(originally published May 2017)
Top Six Benefits to Brands Selling Direct-to-Consumer with Ecommerce
Shoppers want and are willing to pay for, quality, security, and service while enjoying the convenience of online shopping.
More than ever, brands are adapting to consumer purchase habits by shifting to direct-to-consumer selling models. Consumers begin their buyer’s journey by making more purchase decisions online, often researching product reviews and comparing brands and prices. As a result, the consumer expectation of brands and retailers is higher.
1. Expand Your Brand Reach
Prior to the internet, brands largely relied on resellers to reach customers. Rarely did a manufacturer or wholesaler sell directly to consumers. However, today with everyone carrying around a smartphone, brands can reach their customer anytime, anywhere. No physical store needed. Website translation and localization software, as well as software solutions for customs, taxes, duties, and payments, allow brands to easily broaden their market to the whole planet.
2. Rely Less On Retailers
Brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch of online giants like Amazon and big box stores like Walmart. Declining in-store sales are forcing retailers to consolidate physical locations. Your brand’s opportunity for consumers to find your products in-store could be affected by the loss of physical shelf space. Forbes counted nearly 3,600 store closings already announced for 2017. With locations harder to maintain, more retailers are investing in ecommerce to sustain their market segments.
3. Control Your Brand Story
Online market places can be helpful for brands looking to make their products more accessible, but there can be pitfalls. More companies are opting out of online market places like Amazon, entirely, and relying on their own ecommerce solutions. It is difficult for brands to police sellers and companies from price-cutting counterfeit and inferior goods via online resellers. Selling direct-to-consumer ensures the quality of your product, packaging, and pricing is up to your standards.
Selling directly to your customers from your website also allows you to manage firsthand the messaging and image of your brand. Retailers and market places can shadow and dilute your branding. Your message is likely to be far less effective when alongside competing brands within reseller stores and websites.
4. Understand Your Consumer Demographics Better
Direct-to-consumer means you have an open line of communication with your customers. You have the power to educate your customers, interact with them, and learn more about their wants and needs to better align your products.
The more insight into your consumers’ buying habits, shopping trends, and overall experience interacting with your brand, the better your brand can align your products based on needs and interests. Direct-to-consumer eliminates relying on reseller data to see trends. Get interest reports and trending stats in real-time with your direct-to-consumer ecommerce platform.
5. Improve Customer Engagement
Shoppers love it when brands interact directly with them. Whether it’s an email after purchase or a swift response to a customer support inquiry, experiencing a positive, personal connection with a brand makes shoppers more likely to buy. Customers enjoy working with product experts and knowing that they are talking to someone who knows the products inside and out.
Selling direct-to-consumer expands your brand’s opportunities to delight customers with every interaction they have with your brand. Happy customers are more likely to recommend your brand and turn into brand evangelists, the ultimate inbound marketing asset.
6. Offer Broader Product Assortment
To stay competitive with larger stores, retailers carry limited quantities of multiple brands to cover consumer interests. Carrying limited quantities of your product means consumers are seeing only a fraction of your offerings, and can lead to frustration when retailers’ stock is limited.
Selling direct-to-consumer as the brand enables you to offer your entire inventory online. Every style, size, and color option is more likely to be available on your brand site than most retailer stores or sites. Shoppers also know that brands get out of stock items sooner, so if inventory is out, they’re more likely to get the in-stock notice faster from your brand.
With a shifting sales paradigm being led by consumers, brands are finding success by adapting with direct-to-consumer ecommerce solutions.