Posts Tagged "direct to consumer"

Why Manufacturers Can No Longer Afford to Wait to Sell Direct to Customer

Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Aug 05, 2014 5:08 PM  By

From Multichannel Merchant

In 1984, CompuServe became one of the first entities to make online shopping possible with its Electronic Mall. Yet thirty years later, many branded manufacturers are still tiptoeing into the ecommerce waters. Why aren’t more brands diving in?

It is certainly not for lack of opportunity. Forrester Research states that 60 percent of all U.S. retail sales will involve the Web by 2017—as much as $370 billion annually. Moreover, a survey by PwC shows that 52 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. are already going directly to brands and manufacturers websites with the intent to buy, driven by a greater assortment, and brand loyalty.

On top of the undeniable growth prospects, direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling offers manufacturers other important advantages. Because many shoppers prefer to make their first stop at a manufacturer’s website when they are researching a product decision, why not capture the sale when they are there?

Adding a purchase capability to their site and taking the sale direct gives the manufacturer, instead of the retailer, the chance to learn first-hand what consumers are shopping for—and why. The business intelligence gathered about buying trends, regional preferences and product positioning can be used internally as well as shared with your retail partners, thereby strengthening the complete channel.

Despite the selling advantages and business opportunities associated with going direct, many manufacturers are still reluctant to jump in for fear of alienating their traditional channel partners. Contrary to the lingering myths, however, DTC does not harm channel partnerships—in many cases it strengthens them. It is not inconsistent for a manufacturer’s website to offer consumers an option to purchase directly as well as a “where to buy” capability that redirects them to a retail partner’s website or local brick-and-mortar store. T

he fact of the matter is that consumers will buy from the channel that best suits their needs and interests—so it only makes sense to make it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase your products according to their preferences.

More often than not, “channel conflict” is an objection raised by internal sales organizations rather than by the retail partners themselves. Many industries—consumer electronics and apparel manufacturers chief among them—learned years ago that DTC commerce can co-exist with retail partnerships. Now, dozens of other categories, including hobby and toys, power tools, home and personal appliances, health and beauty, and sporting goods are learning from their predecessors.

Establishing a robust and competitive DTC presence, however, does involve effort. Sufficient resources must be allotted to support not only the operational aspects of the ecommerce site, but also provide a solid marketing foundation.

Manufacturers’ ecommerce sites must play well with their brand identity as well as the native demands of the Internet; e.g., SEO, social media and so on. Of course, reliable supply chain logistics and customer service capabilities are essential as well. The manpower and expertise required for these functions are why many manufacturers often choose to partner with an outsourced ecommerce services provider.

Regardless of whether internal or external capabilities are brought to bear, perhaps the most difficult question about DTC e-commerce involves how to price your products. Many manufacturers assume they must publish full MSRP pricing in order to protect their channel partners. There are risks to your brand to pursue such a strategy.

Consumers go to a manufacturer’s website for a wide range of reasons. While they may only be conducting research or searching for the latest product information, many want to buy directly from the manufacturer and often are willing to pay a slight premium to do so. However, if your retail partners sell the same item for 20-40 percent less than the price on your site, your customers are likely to feel insulted.

If you’re lucky, they might go on to purchase your product from one of your retail partners. But they’re just as likely to abandon the sale altogether—or worse, buy your competitors’ product. Think of it this way: your website is a direct extension of your brand. Damage your visiting consumer’s experience and you damage your brand.

On the other hand, pricing that meets or is only slightly above the average retail price gives the consumer options. They can choose the channel that is most convenient or attractive to them at the time, which supports your entire channel ecosystem.

Manufacturers have inherent advantages that consumers are drawn to. It’s important to leverage those opportunities in order to offer buyers options that no retailer can match. In addition to accurate and timely product information, manufacturers can deliver an “endless aisle” of product assortment or include unique bundles and closeout items.

Retailers have only so much shelf space – where you are competing with other top selling brands as well as the retailer’s in-house brands. As a manufacturer, you have many more options with your ecommerce site.

DTC selling is clearly going mainstream and offers the ability to forge relationships, gain important customer insights, increase channel revenue and protect brand loyalty. By providing a complete and fulfilling experience, product manufacturers can better serve their customers’ long-term interests—as well as their own.

Alex Becker is Global Vice President & General Manager, Branded Manufacturers for Digital River.

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Direct Mixers & Tanks

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mixer Direct is a company that manufactures and sells equipment direct to the end user.  They work directly with these end users to design and manufacture large industrial tanks and mixers customized to a customer’s application.

Working direct ensures that the customer has good communication on project details and requirements.  Efforts are streamlined when it comes to designing and building the equipment.

 

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Dress Suits Direct

Posted by on Dec 14, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sellers of men’s dress suits that have been embracing a business model that is direct-to-consumer and eliminates the storefronts.  One of the ways to accomplish this is to visit the customers at their home or work, along with having pop-up storefronts.

Per the article in Business in Vancouver,

Because of potential errors caused by customers attempting to measure themselves, Indochino has been increasing its pop-up stores – temporary storefronts where customers book appointments to be measured by an on-site Indochino tailor.

Vucko, Indochino’s CEO, said the company will operate 10 pop-up stores in 2013. Last year it had four.

The pop-up stores are part of Indochino’s strategy to be the first online clothier to offer mass-customized products.

Pop-up stores are a concept that would relate to many other businesses as well.  The concept allows for companies to concentrate on events where their customers are in higher numbers.  Brands can travel to the customer, rather than the customers needing to find the brand.

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Direct Auto Sales Fight in North Carolina

Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A fight in North Carolina between the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association  and automaker Tesla may soon be settled by the state legislature.

 

tesla

 

Per the Chris Kardish Associated Press article,

It’s the latest such battle for California-based Tesla, which like other car manufacturers must navigate a patchwork of state laws dictating how its vehicles can be sold. Nearly all states – 48 – require manufacturers to sell their vehicles through dealerships to ensure the companies don’t undercut their own network of franchised dealers, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Tesla says it is cutting out the middleman by allowing people to view different options in a showroom, but then ordering the car direct from the company online rather than buying from a salesman. That approach also allows it to bypass state laws regarding franchised dealers, which have been in place for decades. However, lobbying groups say franchise dealers invest more locally and provide customer service that Tesla cannot.

The bill in North Carolina was mostly routine, simply updating the law governing the relationship between automakers and dealers. But it also changes the law to subject electronic sales to the same scrutiny. It has been unanimously approved by the Senate; the company is set to sit down with the state lobbying group for dealers, the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, to discuss a compromise that both sides say is unlikely to be reached. .

Tesla doesn’t yet have a showroom in North Carolina, where it has sold about 80 cars to date. The company recently announced the first quarterly profit in its 10-year history, around the same time Consumer Reports gave its Model S electric sedan a near-perfect rating.

Tesla currently operates 29 stores and galleries across 14 states and Washington, D.C. Customers can order a car online at a sales location or at home but not at galleries, which exist purely to showcase cars in states where auto dealers have launched suits or state law restricts the company from discussing sales in person.

Colorado was the first state to take action against the manufacturer’s stores, passing legislation in 2010 that halts their expansion. Since then, Minnesota lawmakers unsuccessfully pushed for a similar measure. In New York and Massachusetts, dealers have unsuccessfully sued to shut down the dealer’s stores. In Virginia, a judge recently rejected Tesla’s request for an exception to laws that prevent manufacturers from operating dealerships in most cases.

But the automaker can sell in every state because transactions legally take place in California. The North Carolina law, however, prevents customers in the state from making electronic purchases directly through manufacturers, said Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development.

“This would be the first place to my knowledge that Internet-based communications with our company would be circumscribed,” he said.

Tesla, as a upstart automaker, has worked to build a successful business by selling direct to their customer.  This benefits Tesla by removing the requirement of building a large distribution and sales network.  It has largely proved successful, and is a model for other upstart manufacturing companies to follow.

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Not About the Experience Anymore

Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In the good old days of retail stores, luxury retailers made the sale because of the experience of their consumers.  The look and feel of their location, decorating, environment, etc were all part of making a sale of high-end goods.

Times have changed as new forms of advertising inform customers more about the features, benefits, and luxury of the actual product.

Via Forbes Magazine:

(The) new luxury experience is in ownership. People want nice things more than
they want nice service. The luxury industry was shocked when it learned that
luxury consumers loved to (shop) at Costco, a warehouse style store that is
anything but fancy but also sells luxury vacations, furniture, high-end
timepieces, and $100,000 pieces of jewelry. A feeling of disgust fell on the
faces of luxury brand executives when they saw their goods sold via online
auction side eBay or Amazon – arguably the world’s largest shopping mall.
That however was in the beginning, and luxury brands are feeling friendlier to
places like eBay and Amazon because sales numbers prove their fears to be
without merit. The real fear however was that these mainstream shopping
experiences would devalue their high-priced goods, because they were not
being sold in a luxury environment. Nevertheless eBay and Amazon continues
to sell high-value goods at large volumes. Gucci for example has made
Amazon.com their official authorized online retailer.

Consumers at all price levels want good service that is hassle-free and simple.  They are very informed and do not need a salesperson to steer their decisions.

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