Should manufacturers adopt a ‘direct to consumer’ strategy?
Some manufactures feel that their position in the marketplace is purely to supply their products, wholesale, to retailers who’ll take care of the B2C business – but are they missing a trick by not selling on a ‘direct to consumer’ basis?
For many, the biggest worry is that by stepping into ecommerce, they’re going to damage their relationships with their existing customer base, but this is an unfounded fear. For starters, unless you have an exclusivity deal with one preferential retailer (highly unlikely), your clients already have ‘competition‘, in that consumers can buy from a choice of shops or online stores.
Building brand relationships
Aside from being a strategic business move from a ‘bottom line’ point of view, selling DTC also allows you to form a relationship between your brand and your purchase audience. This gives you a greater element of control of their perception of your brand.
For example, by adding in some social media efforts, you can create another direct line for consumers to ask you questions – questions that you’re probably better placed to answer than the retailers who simply buy and sell your goods.
Selling DTC also enables you to gather firsthand data about your buyers’ purchasing habits. Simple analysis will soon show you a variety of ways to fine tune your overall marketing strategy, and in turn, this can add power to your partners too. You’ll be able to strategise product placement on a regional basis, devise promotions that will create better returns, and provide advice to your retailers.
Ultimately, for your business to grow, you need to make your products as accessible as possible. The more routes you create for consumers to use, the wider your market reach becomes. The more channels you have, the easier it is for buyers to find them – and the more options they have in regards to terms, payment facilities and finding an outlet that may also offer additional goods that they’re interested in. Buyers like to have a choice – so why shouldn’t you be one of them?
Even if you start selling direct, your website should still retain information about your other outlets, perhaps offering a ‘find your local store’ function, or an index of web links.
There’s one last point in terms of accessibility: if you’re offering an ecommerce facility, you need to make sure it’s a good one. You may not have the resources in-house to create an online shopping function, and if that’s the case, don’t just try to cobble one together. You have your brand reputation to think about!