If 2020 showed us anything it’s that eCommerce is an ever-evolving landscape. So, hearing about B2B businesses opening D2C channels should come as no surprise. And as the marketplace is showing, creating new direct-to-consumer brands is no longer exclusive to B2C companies -- it can be just as valuable for B2B brands.
According to Forrester, D2C is growing in popularity, with an estimated $18 billion in U.S. sales in 2020. This may be as a result of personal D2C experiences that cause business buyers to want the conveniences for their own businesses and customers. And overall B2B eCommerce is growing as well.
Forrester projects that by 2023, B2B eCommerce will be worth $1.8 trillion in the U.S. and represent 17% of total U.S. B2B sales. Among other things, going direct-to-consumer can help B2B brands with their strategic priorities, such as adding new revenue streams, finding new customer segments, and building loyalty with current customers.
The benefits of selling D2C are many, so let’s start with the important ones and how they pertain to building an effective commerce plan.
1. Customer relationships: One of the best benefits of selling direct-to-consumer is the ability to build deeper relationships with your customers. Via your DTC storefront, you’ll now know more about them. What are they buying? How are they reviewing your brand? Using that information, you can then engage them further with products they may not have considered. Making them happy and keeping them happy to encourage loyalty over the long term.
2. Reach more customers and avoid the middleman: Yes, a DTC storefront will allow you to reach more people simply because of the online aspect. However, those new customers are now coming directly to you and your brand. You’re now their go-to. This continues to build your relationships as well, but also makes transactions cleaner and more efficient.
3. Higher profit margin: By eliminating that middleman, your profits increase. In addition, with your D2C solution, all customer interactions provide more data. You can now use that data to improve your products and/or create new ones. In addition, you now have even more control over branding and messaging.
4. Faster to Market: With a D2C solution, your manufacturing company now has the ability to take more risk on new products. If you were doing business as usual you would be looking at 18 to 36 months from inception to release of a new product. Plus, you would have to commit to a larger quantity to start. Using a D2C storefront, you can launch more quickly and on a smaller scale.
Once you’ve decided to make the jump to a D2C model, you may be asking...how? Always start with your customers. In order for a D2C system plan to be successful, you need to evaluate your customer base. According to Digital Commerce 360, it’s best to look at your base and ask yourself a few questions:
It might also help to identify other consumer segments that you can reach directly. In this case, you’ll also need to ask:
Now let’s take a look at an eCommerce platform itself. According to DataDrivenInvestor, direct eCommerce platforms include the following components:
1. Channel: The platform provides a new way to offer products and services to customers. The pattern may also complement an existing platform like a physical shop.
2. Customer Relationship: We mention this above, but by tailoring an online shop with your customers’ needs in mind, you will build or improve your relationship with them. This makes it hard for your customer to leave. So again as we’ve said, keep them first in mind.
3. Key Partners: Whomever you choose as your platform provider must be considered as a team member. They must be on board with contributing to all aspects of the platform.
4. Revenue Stream: The revenue model must include direct sales and those sales should follow a custom-made model for your business. In short, there must be flexibility in your system and one you can control.
So far we’ve covered the benefits of going D2C and included some things to think about before you get going. But we’d like to leave you with a few things to consider as you move forward with implementation. Ask yourself these questions:
As you can see, transitioning to a D2C channel is not only doable but can change the direction of your manufacturing company. By taking all of this into consideration you can move your B2B manufacturing company into a direct-to-consumer manufacturing company. It just requires careful planning, an understanding of your customer base, and a solid commerce platform to bring everything together. If you need help making the transition, we’re here.
To learn more about how Slatwall eCommerce can help you succeed in D2C. Contact us.