Posted: Tuesday 2nd March 2021 in eCommerce Technology.

As you will have seen in the news, online has really accelerated since COVID-19 hit our shores, with the government forcing non-essential high street stores to close countrywide to stem the spread of the virus. The majority of retailers were left with one option to sell goods to consumers and that was via e-commerce websites. Sadly, we have seen the high street suffering again with more retailers closed due to either a lack of online presence or not reacting quickly enough. As a result, everyone’s online world has exploded, with experts musing that we have seen the same shift to online in just 10 months that we were expecting to see over the next decade.  

There are obvious reasons why brands should sell direct to consumer, such as benefitting from increased profit margins, matched with reasons not to, like stirring issues with B2B customers for example.  

If Corona virus has taught us one thing over the last year it is that deciding not to go online and use e-commerce is just not an option anymore so here are 5 reasons why we believe brand owners should be selling direct to consumers on their own e-commerce website. 

1. Reach more potential customers 

In 2020 it was estimated that 81% of the UK population that is eligible to purchase with a card, now shop online. This resulted in £143 billion being spent online in the UK alone. This is up a whopping 35% when compared to 2019.  

The demographic of the consumers of online shopping is significantly changing; the silver surfers (over 65s) have been the largest age category to shift habits and shop online. In a recent survey by Internet Retailing, 55% of over 65s said that they would shop more online even after the government relax the lockdown measures.  

Having an online store allows you to have a store in every home, pocket and location in the world.   

2. Get to know and understand your customers better 

We are in a time that allows retailers to harvest more data about consumers than they have ever before. This information can range from understanding how long your consumers have been on your site, what products they are interested in, countless demographics of the user, their interests and much more. With this rich data, retailers can create a customer centric approach to marketing to not only help the efficiency and success of their campaigns but do it in your customers language. 

Before D2C, manufacturers of products had little to no interaction with the end consumers of their products. Brands that sell through other retailers try to get a good understanding of their target market by conducting market research and focus groups, but trying to understand your customers through these methods puts a blocker in getting to know exactly who your customers are and what they want. 

Ideally, having direct contact with your consumer through every stage of the sale customer journey is key and this includes the communication that you have with the customer after they have purchased the product. This is easily achieved when selling direct to consumer and through managing your own eCRM process. These types of interactions are almost impossible to replicate in a focus group of offline consumers. 

3. Improving brand control and positioning 

In a traditional manufacturer to retailer relationship, the manufacturer could only control things such as the design of the packaging, and brand marketing activities such as TV commercials and newspaper campaigns. Once the product has been dispatched in bulk and is on its way to the retailer, in many cases control of the brand had been lost to how the retailer would then go on to market and represent it at the point of consumer purchase. 

With brand owners now having easy access to selling D2C, they can have full control over brand image and presentation from the moment the consumer enters the website all the way to the product being delivered, aftercare and hopefully repeat purchase! 

4. Deliver best in class customer experience 

In this uncertain climate, delivering the correct customer experience can be the make or break for an organisation. With 66% of the UK population now on social media, consumers now have more power than ever to voice their opinions to the world about their experience with your brand. This can lead to consumers sharing either positive or negative news. Businesses have woken up to this fact and as a result, 46% of businesses have CX as their key focus for 2021.    

Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product, interestingly 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great service. Instead, they stay loyal to companies due to the experience they receive. Customers have a platform to raise concerns e.g. how the products impact the environment. If the brand doesn’t address the issue, then the consumer will leave and find a brand that does.   

You have to know your customer better than ever before, one of the best ways to do this is by creating customer profiles that help you understand and measure your customers behaviour at every step of their journey across multiple channels. We would recommend implementing a CRM platform that will allow you to segment and talk to customers on a personal level to reduce churn. 

5. Save time and be faster to market 

With the removal of the middleman, retailers are able to create products on small scale and test and learn before launching it at large scale. Some manufactures are even promoting products on their site that can you only sign up to and be contacted when in stock. This allows manufacturers to gain insights into consumer demands without wasted product spend, whilst collecting 1st party data from people that are actually interested in their products     

There are also an abundance of e-commerce platforms and plugins on the market, many in off the shelf template format, that businesses can quickly and cheaply use to build fantastic and engaging e-commerce websites in a fraction of the time and cost that brands historically had to face.  No longer is the lead time to launch a minimum of 6 months and the cost start with a £2, followed by 5 zeros! 

At Summit we have supported some of the largest brands in the UK go from a standing start to competing and winning in a D2C world, from e-commerce website builds to full digital marketing partnering.  Even if you are an established online player, our technology and channel experience has helped many household brands improve brand experience, customer acquisition and increase ROI 

If you need help launching your D2C proposition, please get in touch with our experts today. We would love to get to know your business and challenges better so that we can help you take that next step.