CPG. Apparel. Luxury. Electronics. Cosmetics. Even food and beverage.
All kinds of brands are looking for ways to reach their end-customers better with beautiful websites and carefully orchestrated shopper journeys. But most brands are only seizing half of the opportunity.
Direct-to-consumer sites are taking off in a major way. Retail disruption has condensed the number of retail stores and channel partners. Brands are competing for less shelf space. At the same time, advancements in lightweight SaaS applications allow brands to stand up and test websites, marketing campaigns, and loyalty programs without an army of experts or developers. Brands finally have a direct window to the consumer. But this is only half of the story.
Showing love to the wholesale buyer
While taking hold of a curated, direct digital experience is critical, the reality for most brands is that the vast majority of their revenue is still done on the wholesale side – and will be for years to come. So where’s the love for the most valuable customers/buyers – the wholesale buyer?
Longstanding complexities around B2B ecommerce are disappearing, which means that brands can now run their direct-to-consumer sites and modernize their wholesale channel with a single platform and toolset. Joining the two in a single data-driven platform creates efficiencies and intelligence that makes consumers happy with better products and more buying options – while making brands and their retail partners more agile and profitable.
By combining B2B and B2C ecommerce, cycles can be cut dramatically to get products on shelves faster. Insights and AI can guide the buyer on what to purchase based on historical data, manufacturing timelines, consumer ratings and feedback, and margin assessments. Browsing and buying is content-rich and personalized – and can be done in a few clicks from their mobile device. Buyers get personalized messages with recommendations, updates and reminders, and thanks for their loyalty.
Digital transformation isn’t just a new website
Digital transformation isn’t just a new website. It requires a fundamental shift in virtually all areas of a brand, from manufacturing and sales, to creating new roles in ecommerce, digital marketing, service, and customer loyalty. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s inevitable.
A direct-to-consumer program is a no-brainer for brands, but it certainly won’t replace critical retail distribution models. Delivering rich, personal, streamlined online buying experiences to consumers and professional shoppers makes them feel known and empowered. Being able to deliver to both sets of customers with the same platform, same tools, and same skills is how some brands will out-scale and out-maneuver the competition.
The bottom line
Brands: invest in modernizing your direct-to-consumer program and your wholesale channel. Unifying the programs and your efforts are greater than the sum of separate parts. First-mover advantage will make you better equipped to understand and deliver to consumers more rapidly, and be seen as the supplier of choice.
Now that sounds like a win-win.
To learn more about the evolving expectations of B2B buyers, view the research report, The Next Generation of B2B Purchasing.