By Kelly Goetsch, Chief Product Officer, commercetools
In 2021 there was a great deal of hype around marketplaces, which have been adopted by the likes of Amazon and ASOS designed to sell a variety of commodity products. However, since the start of the pandemic, brands have also been waking up to the realisation that this doesn’t mean every brand can and should enter this space. While marketplaces can work well for tech giants and large retailers who are set up well to benefit, not all branded products lend themselves well to this channel. For instance, when a retailer lists products on a marketplace, it can lose a lot of control over the customer’s experience.
Meanwhile, with less need for physical retail space during the lockdowns, many customers are now more confident about buying online. Approximately 75% of UK shoppers said they had been shopping more online according to Appinio. This gives B2B and B2C brands the opportunity to cut out retail middlemen and adopt a direct-to-consumer (D2C strategy) to sell directly to their audience with self-service options for customers. For many brands, it makes more sense to sell products directly to their audience, so that they can own the message, curate the experience, and cut out other facilitators and their costs.
In 2022, the unique opportunity for manufacturers to engage with customers directly will become even more compelling. It will become clear how with stronger connections to customers, more efficient ordering processes and commanding brand presence, D2C manufacturers enjoy access to untapped revenues and a confident market position post-pandemic. However, to do it well, having the right technology in place is crucial.
Invest in the right technology
To make a D2C strategy worth its while, choosing a robust and reliable commerce system is key. A headless solution, that stores, manages, and delivers commerce capability without the need for tightly coupled front and back-ends provides businesses with the ability to meet customer demands and adapt over time quickly and easily.
For example, consumer electronics group Glen Dimplex used a modern, microservice-based, headless commerce architecture. This allowed it to take a step-by-step approach to e-commerce development, releasing non-transactional product catalogues first and then adding transactional capabilities later. It could then test and rollout improvements in controlled stages to ensure it could maximise sales.
This also allowed Glen Dimplex to take ‘a white-label approach’ to e-commerce development and deployment, meaning it can build once and redeploy over and over again, adding 30 more sites to its pipeline to handle large amounts of traffic. This especially helped during seasonal peaks like Black Friday which require real-time data flow between front- and back-ends to prevent websites crashing. Glen Dimplex was also able to enhance the customer journey by trialling improvements such as adding new features to test their impact on user experience and sales, establish a stronger brand presence and improve consistency of brand messaging globally and across all its core markets.
Adapt to change
Manufacturers typically have little control over the sales model. Now, by embracing a direct-to-consumer approach with a modern technology platform, manufacturers are opening up the conversation with their end-customers directly. This gives them the chance to develop relationships with each customer and personalise interactions which can improve loyalty.
Icelandic clothing and accessories brand 66°North harnessed a flexible platform to enable it to sell some of its product directly to consumers and be able to scale with growing customer demand. With headless commerce, 66°North now has the technology to power its business ambitions rather than limiting them, as is often the case with large monolithic solutions.
Scale with demand
It’s not just B2C brands that are going D2C. B2B customers are moving online fast and their expectations for shopping are growing.
Since B2B businesses typically have larger and more complex data models than B2C, scalability is even more important. Intelligent machine learning-driven features allow data to be simplified for easier handling. With leaner, more efficient data sets, developers can achieve faster-loading experiences, higher rates of uptime for customers, and ability to capture more sales and revenue potential.
With the right technology strategies in place, B2B brands can transform traditional sales routes. When the business leaders at JSW Group, a multinational conglomerate, first envisioned the JSW One B2B online commerce platform, they opted to utilise modular MACH architecture. The easy scalability of the underlying infrastructure was invaluable in creating such a big marketplace.
The way forward
It is certain that evolving into a D2C approach offers a myriad of opportunities, but having modern technology in place is key before the benefits of a robust and reliable commerce system, enhancement of customer journeys and a scalable model, can be truly realised. While there will still be some uncertainty over consumer spending in 2022, and shopper habits will continue to evolve, it will be exciting to see how the industry matures and technology advances within D2C commerce.”