As e-commerce gathers (even more) momentum, branded manufacturers are realizing that their role is changing. Recognizing that online buyers need a ‘zero friction’, seamless shopping experience with many options, many brands are becoming convinced that selling products directly to consumers is strategic. In fact, nearly half of all branded manufacturers sell at least some products directly to consumers from their own websites.
Though it may never make sense for certain brands to sell directly to consumers, for others it may be a smart option. Brands are the product source and therefore in a unique position in the world of e-commerce.
Why Would a Brand Sell Direct?
When selling online, the more steps you can eliminate during the purchasing process, the more likely shoppers are to convert. Ensure online consumers can buy with as few clicks as possible by offering them many purchase points – including the option to buy directly from your website.
Other Reasons to Sell Directly to Consumers
- You have the opportunity to get your brand message across and build up trust and loyalty.
- You’ll get to know your customers better by being able to closely monitor customer feedback. You’ll also get direct access to a host of valuable data to help you improve the customer experience and create targeted marketing campaigns.
- You get the final say on pricing, which you can communicate directly to buyers.
- By selling direct you’re also on top of available inventory, and you can offer your full range of products – products that retailers may not have the space to keep.
Reduce Conflict with Retailers by Combining Efforts
Selling direct doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll clash with retailers. They’re still a cornerstone of your marketing strategy and one you can’t afford to lose – they offer valuable exposure for your products and often wield substantial influence over your customers.
Start a dialogue with your retail partners and discuss with them your reasons for moving towards a direct selling strategy. Stress the fact that you’re not in competition but in partnership with them – and that you’ll be able to send them qualified leads and share data that will benefit everyone.
Make Select Distributors Your Preferred Partners
Depending on how many orders you want to fulfil from your own website, you may want to offload more or fewer leads to approved distributors. If you want to minimise sales to third parties, permit only certain preferred retailers to resell your items. To be eligible, they may need to offer next-day delivery, extended warranties or have a long-standing reputation. Emphasise their unique value proposition when you direct prospects to their site.
When dealing with low-cost or complex products, the margins often aren’t there for retailers to stock your items, e.g., cartridge cases or a replacement part. To reduce friction, you could focus your direct selling efforts here, enabling retailers to fulfil other orders on your behalf.
Syndicate your marketing efforts when you’re working alongside retailers. You want your customers to have similar experiences across online channels and see the same product information. And stay consistent on pricing – don’t try to undercut retailers.
Share data including conversion rates, ideal price points, successful promotions and bundles. Use your shared insights and data to align your digital marketing strategies. Depending on your sales strategy, you may want to let your channel partners influence your digital marketing tactics – you could bid on long tail or broad keywords to ensure they don’t conflict.
If your systems allow, offer in-store pickup for products purchased from your site. Your retail partners will welcome the increased footfall in their brick-and-mortar locations.
Define Your Online Sales Strategy
Before you move into or expand your direct selling capabilities, ask yourself what your aims are. To increase sales, build brand loyalty, or even unload excess inventory?
Or are you looking to build better relationships with partners to increase data flow and find out more about your customers? Whether you’ve started your journey or have introduced some direct selling capabilities onto your website, there are things you can do to increase your sales and boost relationships with retailers.
- If you’re not yet ready to sell direct, add direct links to preferred resellers’ product pages, and use the information from these qualified leads to further your marketing campaigns.
- List on marketplaces: Amazon and eBay allow you to use their infrastructure and customer base.
- Experiment with paid search and product advertising to drive traffic to your website. Google Shopping (with image-driven PLAs) work well for many online retailers and brands.
Ready to get started?
Want to learn more about beginning or expanding your e-commerce presence? Check out our Branded Manufacturers: Get Off the Sidelines and Win Online eBook!