Covid-19 is impacting retail sales in a number of significant ways. The upside is that online sales are up. With many physical retail stores closing or dramatically changing their business operations, customers have turned more and more to online shopping. This creates both a short-term and long-term opportunity for businesses and manufacturers that have not yet undertaken Direct to Consumer (DTC) distribution models. It’s a chance to step in and answer customers’ needs quickly while avoiding additional distribution delays at the retail level.
DTC distribution provides a number of benefits such as better customer data, improved customer success, expanded retail channels, and owned distribution. Is your business poised to make the most of online sales, for the “New Normal” and beyond?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the opportunities:
Own Your Distribution Channel
There’s so much in the world, especially now, that is out of our control and hard to predict, but one thing brands can control is their eCommerce experience. When products are sold in physical stores, the protocols governing that store apply to the products, too. In the time of Covid, with protocols changing rapidly, that can put products and brands at risk by limiting their access and availability. Owning the distribution channel can become a way of alleviating that risk. And if a business owns their own distribution channel, they need to offer a strong eCommerce experience: one that reflects the brand and delivers a seamless customer experience. If you don’t have a way to sell directly to consumers online, there are tools that can have you up and running in a matter of days or weeks.
Cultivate Customer Relationships
Customer communication is key more than ever, with an evolving supply chain and shipping landscape meaning unexpected delays in availability and delivery. Robust tools to build and map customer journeys and sales need to be in place to support communications. More touchpoints mean more chances to build brand loyalty and delight your customers.
Leverage 1:1 Customer Data
With a DTC approach, your business is uniquely positioned to be in direct contact with your customers and gather valuable 1:1 data. Consider how powerful this line of communication could be, for informing and driving new product development and offerings, all while continuing to build the brand and loyalty.
Redundancy planning has always been a key element of supply chain planning, but the definition has changed. Before it would have been weather, gas prices, war, famine, and more. And now it also needs to include recognition of the possibility of retail sales and physical shopping experiences changing (or completely disappearing) in significant ways. Incorporating more DTC distribution means more planning, but also more access, which should ultimately make your business stronger overall and ready to respond to changing market conditions.