27th September 2021

The growing popularity of D2C

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Ross Britton
Website Experience Director
Read time: 5min
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Equimedia’s strategic partnership with Ibexa DXP paves the way for manufacturers and others to sell directly to their end-consumers

Adapting to Covid-19

The pandemic was a watershed moment for e-commerce. Broadly speaking, businesses that were digitally mature were better able to adapt than businesses that had not fully committed to digital transformations.

Some sectors were harder hit than others. If you ran a shop or chain of shops you had to close your doors, but with a good website and a reliable fulfilment partner, you could still supply your customers. For B2B, things were often trickier. Fruit and vegetable wholesalers supplying hotels and restaurants saw their route to market disappear overnight, but those with an e-commerce structure in place were able to “pivot” to selling directly to the consumer. Such an abrupt change of business model required an agile mindset and the digital technology to back it up. By no means all manufacturers and distributors were able to do this.

Equimedia responded rapidly to the changed circumstances. At the height of the health crisis in 2020, we launched equi connect, an end-to-end solution to help brands to sell online. By offering a one-stop shop for businesses to develop customer profiles, design a website, optimize SEO, plan and launch a marketing campaign and get the goods delivered through our fulfilment partner, if needed, we helped retailers increase online sales throughout the dark months of the pandemic and beyond.

The transactions between businesses are complex, but equimedia is determined to extend its D2C operations into the B2B sector and not only provide B2B business lead generation solutions, but also help manufacturers and other B2B brands sell direct to the end-consumer.

This is one of the reasons why equimedia has entered into a strategic partnership with Ibexa, the vendor of Digital Experience Platforms that empower B2B businesses to create “B2C-like customer experiences” combined with dynamic pricing, real-time inventory, order tracking as well as personalization and e-commerce.

As is the case with equi connect, businesses can choose one, several or all the elements of the end-to-end solution, depending on what they need and where they are in their digital transformation journey.

This is not the only synergy: Ibexa’s emphasis on brand intersects with Equimedia’s deep experience in marketing and audience research.

The Equimedia / Ibexa partnership agrees there are tremendous opportunities for B2B brands to sell direct-to-customer, or D2C. In this blog, we shall look at D2c as it affects business-to-business relationships, and disrupts them by cutting out the traditional middleman, usually a wholesaler or distributor.

D2C or how to talk to your real customers

The direct-to-customer business model was already gaining traction before Covid-19 hit. D2C is one response to the growing customer demand for sustainability and provenance. Intermediaries are wasteful. Millennials, in particular, care deeply about proximity to a product or a supplier because it simplifies fulfilment (for them anyway) and gives them more authentic insight into the product's origins.

The advantages for B2B of selling directly to its end market are obvious: by cutting out the middlemen (and sometimes there are many), it can offer a cheaper product, increase margins — or both.

A strategic, longer-term benefit is that businesses are finally talking to the users of their products, and not merely to the businesses that transport them, warehouse them, or retails them. This is huge. The traditional B2B business model denies companies direct insight into the customer experience of its products, making them slow to react to changes in the market.

Of course, D2C does not happen overnight; there are challenges.

Why you should start small

Logistics is crucial. A typical B2B e-commerce platform is often not connected to direct sales channels; implementations are built around the dispatch of bulk deliveries, and not set up for the fulfilment of individual orders. Inventory will change rapidly and erratically, so suppliers need real-time insight into the stock position. With the right DXP, integrations to your ERP system for up-to-date product information, prices, and inventory could transfer over from your B2B platform.

Unless you are a B2B startup, you won’t be making your entire product portfolio available for D2C immediately. Start small. Put out a product that you know will do exceptionally well and rely on that promise of quality and consistency to win over customers before taking it to the next level. A lot of D2C pioneers built their business in this way. When it launched, Casper offered just one mattress, Bonobos sold just one style of pants, and Harry’s shipped only one type of razor.

This piecemeal approach echoes the minimum viable product concept, where you offer just enough value for the first wave of customers to buy, try, and give feedback. This is a more agile and less wasteful approach to boosting customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

As we saw, the great benefit of D2C is that it frees you to communicate your story very directly to your end-user. Equimedia has extensive experience in crafting what you might call “the front-end” of that story: the web design, the customer personas that give insights into who your customers are and where they are online, the market research and the resulting marketing campaigns.

In B2B, customers make more rational, long-term decisions but in D2C, emotion and impulse have the upper hand. To serve both approaches, you need a technological platform and an implementation partner that can create radically different customer experiences and transactional journeys from the same source: your great products.

Register today for Ibexa and equimedia's upcoming webinar - B2B: The Key to Growth is Self-Disruption

If you're interested in finding out more about why the transition from B2B to D2C could be the right pivot for your business, then register for our upcoming webinar 'B2B: the key to growth is self-disruption', taking place on 16th November 2021 from 11 am - 12 pm. Register below:

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