Traditionally brands have mainly relied on a distribution model, which includes brick and mortar retailers who are served by distributors acting on behalf of the brand. As such brands have been Two Plus layers away from the end consumer. Interaction with end consumers has usually been in the area of contact programs including product sampling, market research, in-store promotions, product demos, consumer meets, and consumer services. Very rarely do product manufacturing and marketing companies interact with consumers on sales, unless they have an established direct to consumer business. Selling to end consumers has been the domain of retailers acting as a channel appointed and serviced by distributors. Some product companies have done well to sell direct to consumer. These have largely been in the US and Europe and some examples are Lenovo, Apple and Dell. The Internet and ecommerce industry offers brands an excellent opportunity in consumer engagement. Brands can now reach consumers directly and sell their products and services. This has been made possible due to the increased investment and growth in the ecommerce ecosystem. Branded Online Stores are now a reality. Every brand should consider the option to get enabled to sell direct to consumer. This does not mean that this should be done at the expense of the traditional retail channels. It is one more channel that can co-exist with others. The advantages of operating a Branded Online Store are several and include:
Closing Distribution Gaps, if any. Setting up retail stores and distributing your products to serve consumers across the country can be a challenge. Your own branded online store can act as a Virtual Retail Outlet with localisation and home delivery.
Providing convenience to your customers. With the increase in commuting times and cost, brands can provide consumers with the option to shop from home.
Monetise your digital assets, social media and digital marketing spend. Generate sales, likes, clicks and page views.
Get a view on your customers – get real information on consumers (this can be very interesting and a new exposure for marketers.
Test New Products – potentially launch internet only products.
Webrooming – display all your products on your online store with rich content, high levels of customer engagement and this will encourage and educate consumers who can potentially go into a physical store to buy your products.
Increase the ecommerce quotient of the organisation. As your team members get exposed to ecommerce through your branded online store, their understanding and adaptation of ecommerce will increase. This is possible only when you have access to information and insights on the inner workings of ecommerce, beyond the experience of selling your products on marketplaces.
Custom to Order – this new emerging trend to mass customise products can be made a reality through a branded online store that is controlled by the brand. You can offer customers the option to customise their order and in turn have processes created for their execution.
Consumer Analytics – rich data from your branded store will help you in consumer behaviour analysis. You can also test products, talk to consumers, correlate their demographics and web behaviour with purchase intent and conversions. This analytics will give your management insights into the consumer to drive better digital marketing initiatives.
Omni Channel – Serving your customers across multiple touch points. This is enabled through the branded online store. Integrate your call centre, website , in store sales, field sales onto the branded online store to ensure your customer is served across channels and stock out situations at one sales point do not lead to a loss of opportunities
In summary, the brand online store could form an essential part of progressive marketers future plans. Setting up and operating a brand online store needs to be viewed beyond the sales that the store may generate. For more information and insights on how a brand online store may be relevant for your business please feel free to contact us