As consumers shift to buying online, manufacturers and brands are under increasing pressure to develop direct-to-consumer channels.
In this article we outline 5 essential must-haves for a winning D2C eCommerce strategy – specifically for the home appliance market.
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Direct-to-Consumer eCommerce has been growing rapidly with
double-digits for several years now. The pandemic has catapulted this change forward years – and given the recent uncertainty in retail and loss of control of the supply chain, the D2C market is predicted to grow by a further 19.2% in 2021.
With all these data points in mind, it’s clear that consumers are now more willing than ever to buy appliances online. This marks a significant shift in consumer behaviour that shows consumers are more likely to switch to digital sales channels in the next two to five years – faster than anticipated. Bain & Company predict an increase in the online purchase of white goods to 40% of the total industry sales by 2025, up from 15-20% in 2020.
Direct-to-Consumer channels are now powering a growing share of appliance sales online, and manufacturers are under intense pressure to reshape their strategies.
The message is clear – digital transformation is vital not only to give consumers the convenience to buy what they want, how they want – but to ultimately protect market share. The home appliance market needs to play catch up, or risk falling behind.
It’s clear that today’s consumers are demanding better customer experiences and companies, of all shapes and sizes, are fighting to
deliver direct, one-to-one, experiences that exceed expectations.
Beyond the desire to drive more direct sales, what’s in it for manufacturers and B2B businesses?
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) eCommerce is a way for manufacturers and B2B businesses to take matters into their own hands. Not only is it a way of opening up new sales avenues to grow profits, build customer insight and consequently gain a competitive edge.
In a nutshell, D2C eCommerce gives home appliance manufacturers:
In a recent survey from Episerver, we see a rising trend for consumers spending directly with manufacturers, “59% of respondents prefer to do research directly on brand sites” and “55% want to buy from brands directly.” As brands and manufacturers become more comfortable with selling direct, this trend will only grow.
Direct-to-Consumer eCommerce means owning the entire customer relationship. It gives manufacturers the ability to leverage additional consumer insights that come with it. To create unique, personalized online engagement, better fulfillment and returns experiences.
Not only does a D2C channel help to drive more direct sales, but it provides an opportunity to create recurring revenue streams – be it through subscriptions, new product launches or annual repair services for example. These brand-led tactics provide much better brand loyalty and lifelong customers than otherwise possible through a traditional, retail model.
One of the biggest barriers we find when working with manufacturers
/ B2B brands is the fear that this D2C transition will jeopardise their partner
relationships. Will their partners see this shift as a threat and consider them new competition – dropping them from the shelves altogether?
We’ve found that offering an exclusive range or bundles to your retail partners, whilst selling the ‘basic’ product on your own D2C channel (or vice versa) may be the best way to achieve the best of both worlds.
There are plenty of approaches you can take depending on how risk-adverse or aggressive you’d like to be. If you’re considering shifting to a D2C model but aren’t sure where to start. Then get in touch for a free D2C strategy session with our team.
One of the major issues is that many pure-play start-ups have the benefit of agility on their side. Not shackled by the baggage of legacy systems, processes and operations, or by leadership teams who insist on tradition or “our way of doing things”, these newer businesses can change strategic direction on a whim, and capitalise on new opportunities well before the competition.
The D2C concept is nothing new, and is an area most consumer goods manufacturers, B2B businesses and wholesalers have been experimenting with for some time, but many are recognising the need to step up, or fall behind. The truth is your future survival may well depend on it. We’re already seeing established manufacturers being challenged and usurped by D2C start-ups able to offer a more engaging customer experience.
Setting up an eCommerce platform becomes more complicated the broader your product range is.
Selling D2C or B2C differs from B2B in that consumers don’t always have a specific model number or goal in mind when researching online.
Consumers, no-matter how tech savvy, can find it overwhelming when viewing a large volume of appliance models and features on offer. Offering too much choice can be overwhelming and can adversely affect your conversion rate.
Tip #1 – Simplify the number of products and SKU’s you have available online, at least initially. Instead, focus your efforts on making your product portfolio as easy to navigate and filter as possible.
If you’re a manufacturer that has historically sold thousands of coffee machines in bulk to retailers, selling thousands of small applianes to individuals will need a completely different set of systems and processes to cope with the complexity of B2B, B2B2C and B2C. Not only do you need to consider a new business model but the logistics to fulfil these orders.
Tip #2 – Aim to have a clear and consistent strategy around who your consumer is and the “consumer journey” that you are looking to create. It’s vital that you implement an end-to-end eCommerce solution that can support every segment of your business. One solution that covers eCommerce, order management and systems integration to connect your CRM, payment processing and logistics.
The organisations that we see winning in the D2C market are truly obsessive around consumer-centricity. Make sure this runs through every single consumer touch point from the online website through to the delivery, installation services and the removal of large appliances. Every consumer touch point is key and quite often it’s the last mile delivery and installation process that the customer remembers!