Traditionally, producers of consumer goods don’t deal directly with users and consumers. Consumers will often buy their goods from a retailer or a channel partner with whom the manufacturer deals on a B2B (business-to-business) basis. That’s beginning to change, however, with the boom of e-commerce solutions. Producers and manufacturers now have the ability to sell directly, and in a recent survey, a full 99% of these producers claimed that they are interested and investing in direct sales.
The future is now, and that future is direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales. This is a great thing for manufacturers and consumers alike, as customers want that direct connection with the creator of the brands they buy. In fact, 52% of consumers already visit the websites of their favourite brands looking to purchase. Allowing them to do so will increase revenue, drive company growth and allow unprecedented first-party access to data. Let’s look at an overview of some vital advice and strategies you can adopt to drive your D2C sales and find out where you can turn for more data and help.
Guidelines for driving D2C sales: an overview
There are several key steps in driving D2C sales in your business. From preparing and goal-setting to delivering a consumer-centric experience, these are the key factors in growing your business in the age of e-commerce. These steps include:
Defining your goals
The first step in any new business approach is to prepare for what’s to come. This means you have to define your goals. It’s always best to grow a strategy as opposed to diving in wholesale right out of the gate. You may, for example, begin with a site that just delivers content that provides information about your brand and builds awareness. You might add some transaction functionality, which can build your online client base and drive revenue and growth. You could also seek to build a personalised experience by using surveys and mailing lists to gather information and insights from your customers.
The impact of channel conflict
One of the biggest risks of direct sales is coming into conflict with your existing partners. The last thing you want to do is alienate your distributors, which can undermine your retail sales. The goal of D2C sales is not to replace retail, it’s to supplement it and provide an extra channel of contact with your consumers. As such, it’s vital that you speak with your existing distribution partners before implementing a D2C strategy. Make sure they are aware that your use of D2C is not seeking to undermine their efforts on your behalf, but that it will drive awareness of your brand, which will benefit them in the end and help to boost their channels as well.
Brand awareness: going deep
Fifty-four percent of consumers say that when they visit a brand website, they’re looking for comprehensive information about the product. This means you need to go as deep as possible with your brand, offering highly detailed product descriptions, trending social media information and photos, and even how-to videos and video presentations. These should all be completely different and more in-depth than those that you offer through distribution marketing and promotions.
Your website provides the ideal channel for you to dive into your brand, what makes you unique, and what makes your product stand out from the competition. The marketing efforts you use through retail channels are vital to your business, but they’re also limited — you can only spend so much time and space in a retail channel to explain your product. Your website gives you virtually unlimited room to offer important, detailed, and, above all, engaging content to educate, inform and excite your potential customers.
Get your team on board
Next, you’ll need to make sure that your team is prepared for the D2C sales structure. For many companies, D2C plans present a whole new world when compared to their traditional focus on product creation and dealing with distributors. Because of this, you need to be sure your team is on board.
Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) so that your team has a solid understanding of the specific metrics you’re going to be tracking to measure your progress. Implement whatever informational, educational or training processes and documentation are required to ensure that everyone has a full understanding of what will be needed, as well as the role that each will play in the new approach.
Adopting technological solutions
It’s no understatement to point out that technology is at the core of your direct-to-consumer sales strategy. Modern technological solutions are so advanced that they can all but handle every step and aspect of your strategy. Consider an AI-powered ecommerce strategy built around your specific customer needs. The right technology package can drive sales productivity, enable channel partners and build meaningful relationships by offering a fast, collaborative and customised experience that seamlessly allows for smarter and more personalised consumer engagement.
Many companies are still concerned about working with cloud-based technology. The truth is, it’s stable, and secure, and can help you to exceed just about every aspect of your customers’ desires and your goals. A consumer commerce cloud solution allows you to connect the consumer shopping experience to your sales, service and marketing while building gorgeous and personalised campaigns. It can make recommendations to improve your efforts and allow you to implement new upgrades at double the speed of traditional technology adoption.
Build a customer-centric experience
Finally, and possibly most importantly, you need to ensure that your strategy is truly customer-centric. Your customers need to be at the very centre of the experience. You need a plan for service, operations, and even production that gives unprecedented options to your consumers, including means by which they can find your site and options for customer service, payment and checkout.
Get to know your customers and establish a strategy that allows you to connect on a personal level. Work to deliver an experience that will resonate and deepen your relationship with the customer. Choose the right technology and develop an experience that offers the very best shopping journey possible.
If you’d like more information about building a truly customer-centric, in-depth experience for D2C sales strategies, check out our comprehensive guide to developing direct-to-consumer strategies and get in touch with us for more information, a consultation, or to get started today!