Consumers want a relationship with brands, and if you build it, they will come — more than half of consumers have intent to purchase when they visit a manufacturer’s website. 

Manufacturers traditionally reliant on distributors have the exciting opportunity to build long-lasting relationships by going direct-to-consumer (D2C) with a digital commerce site. 

A D2C ecommerce site is more than just another method to sell products. It boosts brand awareness, drives growth, increases revenue, and transforms experiences. Manufacturers can leverage deep subject-matter expertise to create content that builds credibility, establish trust, and differentiate the brand experience to foster connections with consumers. A D2C channel also enables experimentation with specific product lines and market testing, and it’s less costly than going through marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba. 

But going D2C understandably comes with a lot of questions as you shift focus away from a strictly B2B model. You may have limited resources, or you may be uncertain on how to navigate existing distributor relationships. In this article, we’ll show you how to:

  • Balance existing distribution streams 
  • Differentiate your D2C ecommerce site
  • Update operations and fulfillment 
  • Maintain a consistent relationship with consumers
  • Define D2C goals and success metrics

Read on for our top tips and get a more in-depth look at what goes into establishing a D2C ecommerce site with our how-to guide, Going Direct-to-Consumer


1. Complement existing B2B partnerships

Consider the impact of channel conflict and devise ways to reduce it. Communicate your goals and D2C strategy with existing distribution partners ahead of time. It’s a courtesy and opens the door to working together in new ways, from reimagining channel management strategies to creating new partnerships. 

In fact, your approach to D2C can be funded by a B2B strategy. What can you experiment with and leverage for your D2C ecommerce site? 

  • Establish a market development fund
  • Create a special product line available for purchase on your site with exclusive access to select partners
  • Leverage the power of the suggested retail price (SRP) to give the exclusive ability to discount items 
  • Use content on your D2C site to serve partners, such as a store finder and detailed product information that can help consumers make purchase decisions while in the store

2. Differentiate with a customer-centric, brand-first approach

Content and experiences bring consumers closer to your brandEverything that you do should support the consumer journey, from discovery through loyalty, with regular, personalized engagements that resonate. Consider your D2C channel as your hub. Fill it with detailed product descriptions, how-to videos, and even trending social photos. 


3. Update your operations and fulfillment to accommodate D2C sales

Consumers expect options throughout their experience. Outsource parts of the supply chain to handle individual shipments and consumer inquiries. Or, update your existing infrastructure and operations to handle individual orders by working with third-party fulfillment partners. You may also build or leverage your relationships with shipping carriers to get a discount on shipping rates to offset the high cost of last-mile delivery. 


4. Build relationships with continued engagement 

The best experience consumers have anywhere becomes the experience they expect everywhere. Drive engagement with messaging and experiences that ensure satisfaction, from content to service interactions, across every channel of engagement. 

Build relationships and a strategy using continuous innovation. Understand how your engagements better meet consumer and market needs.

  • Content: D2C requires a regular cadence of high-quality content for your site, social, email, and SMS channels. Mix product and lifestyle imagery with value-added content that positions your brand as a trusted authority — consider tutorials and snackable videos.
  • Customer service: Empower consumers with self-service to find answers to common questions with a simple FAQ page and resolve more cases faster with chatbots. If a case is too complicated, the bot can seamlessly escalate it to an agent for additional support. 
  • Personalization: Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize ecommerce experiences at scale. AI identifies the nuances and behaviors of each consumer and surfaces relevant content that increases the chance of conversion. 

5. Develop a clear vision with key performance indicators (KPIs) 

D2C is an investment in technology, resources, and time. Clear KPIs (beyond sales targets) like repeat purchase, loyalty, and consumer satisfaction should ladder up to your company’s overarching goals. 

Chart a path forward by taking a crawl-walk-run approach. Go slow and be judicious. What can you do to develop a D2C strategy over time? Start small with limited products (which helps you to avoid channel conflict early on) and think about softer goals or strategic initiatives and metrics. For example, it’s not only about marketing and transactional needs — it’s also about fulfillment. Your new services will build an ecosystem over time with fieldwork and technicians.


Get started

This is your chance to establish the type of relationship your consumers want. Are you ready to go D2C? Learn more about the steps you need to take to bring your brand and consumers together.