The advantages of direct-to-consumer e-commerce (DTC) are obvious: More data from first-party suppliers to customers, you own the end-to-end relationship and it is an additional sales channel. Additionally, the timing has never been better for older CPG brands and manufacturers to switch to DTC e-commerce, as Coresight Research predicts up to 10,000 stores could close in the U.S. this year.
However, Create a DTC strategy Starting an online store is not that easy – especially for B2B brands that have never sold directly to their customers before.
For guidance, we turned to Tammy Tran, Director of E-Commerce at method, which was launched Method menJordi Izsak, Senior Digital Strategist for E-Commerce at Agency Partner, is the new shaving and personal care brand on the BigCommerce platform Americaneagle.comto ask them how B2B manufacturers can address some of the biggest challenges associated with adopting DTC.
What are the most important motivating factors for you to invest in an online DTC channel?
Tammy: At method, it is our passion to offer environmentally friendly, design-oriented products to as many people as possible.
When we launched Method Men, it was important to us that the full range of products was accessible, convenient for people to buy and that they could learn more about us anytime, anywhere.
And as more people shop online, it became clear that investing in an online DTC channel would better enable us to bring this mission to life.
George: In ecommerce, we’d like to say that your website should be your hardest working shop as it’s available 24/7.
By continuing to do business through distributors, manufacturers have missed this scope. In addition, they are often placed next to competitors in the sales room.
With Going DTC, a manufacturer can control the presentation of its product range and communicate how it differs from others, and thus gain this market share.
What strategies have you implemented or do you recommend to manufacturers who are concerned about possible channel conflicts with their trading partners?
Tammy: I think it’s important to understand and define the role DTC plays within your brand Omnichannel strategy. Each channel has advantages and disadvantages, and the DTC channel can serve a different purpose for each brand / manufacturer.
Taking the time to pre-define the role and purpose of DTC for your brand can help you stay one step ahead of potential channel conflicts and ultimately maximize the benefits of DTC in an omnichannel retail environment.
Is there something that B2B brands often overlook or forget when creating a DTC strategy?
countryi: The expectations of product information in the DTC area are far higher than those of most manufacturers. Customized images, product names, descriptions and specifications are key components for a consumer to compare and find the right product selection.
We often see manufacturers without pictures or product names that only internal employees understand. Efforts to enrich product data should ideally begin well in advance of a DTC e-commerce implementation.
What are the top considerations when choosing an ecommerce platform for your DTC website?
Tammy: I think it is important to include your full cross-functional team during the evaluation and consider both how the e-commerce platform can support your daily DTC operations and the long-term vision you have for DTC.
From a day-to-day operations perspective, it was important to us to ensure that our team was able to quickly make merchandising, marketing and price / advertising adjustments without any coding background. You can do this very easily using the BigCommerce control panel.
In the long term, BigCommerce is constantly optimizing the platform and introducing new updates to keep up with the fast-moving industry. Additionally, we thought about how BigCommerce would support our ability to safely and efficiently scale our DTC footprint in methods.
What should a manufacturer know about integrating their systems into a new e-commerce platform?
George: When a manufacturer prepares to integrate their existing systems for a new DTC website, it is important to keep in mind that the most successful companies are using their tools as they are meant to be used.
For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can contain important product specifications and operational information, but it should not improve your advanced product data or user experience.
Assess your enterprise architecture and ensure that both marketing and operations departments in your company are using best-of-breed applications. By building a healthy application ecosystem, you ensure that your business needs are met and that you avoid lengthy double-entry scenarios.
What do you see as the biggest logistical hurdles for manufacturers introducing DTC and what steps should they take to overcome them?
Tammy: Firstly, I think it’s important to note that logistics have a significant impact on the customer experience and can ultimately have an impact on whether a customer wants to buy from a brand again.
If you are able to send an order to a customer as expected, the customer will likely find their DTC visit a good experience. However, when a customer has a problem with their delivery, you need to make it easy for the customer to ask questions and resolve their issues quickly.
To make this happen, you need the right tools, people, and capabilities – and everything has to work seamlessly in your DTC technology stack.
George: Space and inventory are two hurdles we often see when manufacturers start selling DTC. Instead of managing inventory in boxes and pallets, you want to break down larger units of measure from an ERP, which can be tricky.
In addition to the problem with inventory numbers, the physical storage space required to disassemble, repackage, and manage inventory can be a challenge. So make sure you have dedicated space for DTC operations.
Learn more about selling DTC
Download our full guide for more tips and tactics for DTC experts: This is how you bring your B2B brand directly to the consumer. Because with a solid action plan, manufacturers can successfully overcome challenges and sell them directly to consumers.