Transitioning from selling business-to-business (B2B) to direct-to-consumer (DTC) isn’t an easy decision for manufacturers. But as experts predict record numbers of brick-and-mortar stores will continue to close, the time has never been better to make the leap to selling online.

The Move to Direct-to-Consumer Commerce

With the rise of digital commerce, it’s easier than ever for consumers to go straight to a brand’s website when they want to buy a product. 

Many consumers are already visiting brand websites and want to make a purchase. For instance, BrandShop’s 2018 Consumer Preferences Survey found that if given the option, 87% of consumers would buy products directly from a brand online.

No doubt the pandemic has accelerated the move to online shopping for many consumers. In fact, an August 2020 study, “DTC And The New Brand Loyalty Opportunity,” revealed that in the past year, nearly 55% of consumers have used DTC channels to purchase consumer packaged goods (CPG) or nonperishable items they use on a regular basis.

Driving this trend is millennial shoppers — 67% report using brand-run websites and stores to purchase CPG products. And interestingly, many shoppers (70%) plan to continue these new habits even once the pandemic ends.  

While CPG businesses have led the way launching DTC ecommerce websites, manufacturers are still hesitant to make the investment. In fact, as of 2018, only 54% of manufacturers stated they want to sell online directly to consumers.

Advantages of Investing in DTC Ecommerce for Manufacturers

Selling DTC offers several advantages for manufacturers — beyond simply creating an additional revenue stream.

1. Make your products easier to find and purchase.

With a DTC website, you have the opportunity to reach even more potential customers that are ready to buy your products. A Retail TouchPoints survey found that 33% of shoppers consider a brand manufacturer’s website as the most influential resource when researching a potential purchase. 

Instead of potentially losing the sale because the customer can’t buy from you online, with a DTC ecommerce store, you can allow the customer to buy right away.

2. Gain control over the customer experience.

Selling DTC gives you control over the entire customer journey, from the moment someone lands on your website until the product is delivered — and beyond. 

You can create customer-centric experiences on your website, such as recommending products based on recently viewed items. You can also send emails to gather feedback on how they like the product or send tips for how to use the items they purchased.

3. Capture first-party customer data.

The majority of data manufacturers receive is filtered through retailers and is mostly related to transactions. However, when you sell directly to consumers, you can collect a wide range of first-party data on their behaviors. 

Combined with the transactional data from retailers, as well as your own website, you’ll now have a better understanding of your customers. Leveraging this data, you can make strategic business decisions on everything from product development to packaging and pricing.

How to Plan and Execute a DTC Ecommerce Strategy

If you do decide to take the plunge and launch a DTC ecommerce site, the good news is that you don’t have to start planning from scratch. We’ve put together a handy checklist of things to do that will help you solve the most common challenges you’ll face.

Direct-to-consumer checklist for manufacturers: reduce channel conflict, integrate new technology, attract customers to your online store, and put the right back-end systems in place. Direct-to-consumer checklist for manufacturers: reduce channel conflict, integrate new technology, attract customers to your online store, and put the right back-end systems in place.

Learn More About How to Sell DTC 

Selling directly to consumers doesn’t have to be an impossible task for manufacturers. With a clear strategy for working with your retailers, flexible technology for ecommerce operations and a plan for back-office logistics, you can successfully launch your DTC website.

For more expert DTC tips and tactics, download our complete guide: How to Take Your B2B Brand Direct-to-Consumer.

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