Key Learnings and Takeaways from IRCE Focus: Brands & B2B

Last week’s IRCE FOCUS conference in New York, focusing on brands selling directly to consumers, was fascinating.

Around the world, brands are discovering that the benefits of D2C are enormous – to the brand, manufacturers, stakeholders and channel partners (retailers and distributors), and to consumers. Brands are some of the fastest growing ecommerce businesses today; small, medium and large brands are actively investing resources to build D2C capabilities.

Last week’s sessions highlighted differences between B2B and D2C and provided opportunities to learn from successful companies, those who have had challenges, and some just starting out on their D2C journey. Participants were very engaged during the well-attended sessions and the topic-specific roundtables were packed.

Why D2C for Brands?

Presentations and discussions revealed that a well-executed D2C strategy needs to support the overall brand message, create awareness with consumers, allow the brand to control the way the product is curated, provide consumers with a view of the entire product assortment, and drive increased sales through all channels!

We learned that today’s sophisticated consumer is actively creating her own experience with retailers and brands on her own terms –  using her phone, phablet, tablet, computer, stores, catalogs, social media, etc. to get what she wants, how and when she wants it.

We also heard a bit about channel conflict, until recently a major concern to brands and their channel partners. Today, this is less of an issue as consumers have consistently pushed for access to all products in all channels.

Customers expect brands to have ecommerce capabilities and they have high expectations for their D2C experience. One global brand reported that “Given the choice, 80% of our website users go to our ecommerce site versus our brand site.”

Speakers shared a number of tidbits and concepts that you’ll need to work into your D2C business plan:

Your customer:

Start distinguishing your D2C customer from your existing B2B customers immediately. They are different and they have different needs. When going from B2B to D2C, you must address the different needs of both customers, whether you have different organizations, outsource, etc.

Branding and marketing:

Your B2C business should be what drives the brand. A strong push into D2C will allow you to position and showcase your brand the way you want it shown, which may “encourage” your B2B customers to position your brand more consistently with your vision.

Fulfillment:

Inventory/Product availability is critical to enable B2B self serve and D2C ecommerce. What will you need to change (systems, processes, org structure, SKUs, product classification, labeling, packaging, invoicing, customer care expectations, etc.) in order to send large wholesale shipments AND individual consumer orders?

Your organization:

Organizational structure is critical to enable a responsive organization, critical in virtually every major function of the enterprise. When do you add executives or teams? How do you scale in a high-growth situation?

As you can see, a lot of good stuff! FitForCommerce will keep you up-to-date on this topic. Reach out to us for one-on-one help!


3 HOT TIPS:

  • Customers today expect their favorite brands to be in all channels – don’t make them have to even think about channels.
  • Start distinguishing your D2C customers from B2B customers to help your team focus on the fundamentally different needs of each.
  • To meet a customer’s high expectations for a brand’s D2C operations, maintain an 18-month roadmap for your technology, organization, and operations to make sure you are focusing on the right priorities.