In 2017, Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) e-commerce sales reached $14.28 billion in the U.S. alone. In 2020, those sales had nearly reached $18 billion. D2C sales are projected, in 2021, to top $21 billion.
If your brand isn’t yet selling directly to consumers, it’s probably time to start thinking about it. If you have been, you might be wondering if it’s time to improve your D2C e-commerce experience.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine how ready your business is to jump into e-commerce direct-to-consumer sales and to point to the improvements that could enhance your D2C sales. Your answers will lay the roadmap for how you get from where you are to your piece of the D2C pie.
Six Questions to Tell Where You Are on the Path to D2C
Here’s a quick quiz to determine where you’re at. Jot down each of your answers. Below, we’ll tell you how to score your results.
Question 1: Do you have internal support to make the move to D2C?
- No, our stakeholders don’t know anything about D2C.
- No, our stakeholders don’t think we make an appropriate product for direct sales.
- Our stakeholders aren’t sure of the value of D2C, or if we’re ready for it.
- Our stakeholders are fully on board and supportive.
Question 2: Are you currently selling products through a marketplace, like Amazon or Walmart?
- No, we aren’t selling online at all.
- No, we don’t sell through a marketplace but we have a B2B e-commerce store.
- Yes, we are currently selling on Amazon or another marketplace, but sales are low.
- Yes, we are currently selling through a marketplace like Amazon, and doing well.
Question 3: Do you have a system in place to fulfill orders to consumers?
- No, we only have order fulfillment to wholesale customers.
- Yes, we currently ship to consumers through marketplace sales from our own warehouses, but the process is slow or manual.
- Yes, we have a 3PL in place that helps us fulfill consumer orders.
- Yes, we have an automated system that is ready to scale to meet demand.
Question 4: Are you still using manual processes in the sales to fulfillment chain?
- Yes, our process is completely manual.
- Our process includes more than 5 manual processes to fulfill an order.
- We have some integrations between systems, such as CRM to ERP, or e-commerce to fulfillment, but there are a few manual processes still in place.
- We are API-led and/or have full automation across the supply chain.
Question 5: Do you have the IT infrastructure to support direct-to-consumer sales?
- We are lacking in IT infrastructure.
- We have an e-commerce platform, but it is not connected to other systems.
- We have a small IT department or MSP that helps with our infrastructure but would have a hard time scaling without further investment.
- We have the infrastructure and team in place, including ERP, finance, CRM, and order fulfillment to handle an influx of new orders and is ready to scale.
Question 6: Can you store and leverage the data from your D2C sales?
- We don’t currently store customer data beyond billing information and simple purchase history.
- We have some customer data, including purchase and spending history, but we aren’t utilizing it.
- We have a data warehouse and we’re ready to store customer data, but we don’t have analytics in place to leverage the information.
- We have a data warehouse or data lake that we use in conjunction with a wealth of customer information and are ready to scale to uncover actionable insights from customer data.
For each A answer, give yourself 1 point.
For each B answer, give yourself 2 points.
For each C, 3 points.
D answers receive 4 points.
Do you need help understanding how to get started selling direct to consumers?
Your E-commerce D2C Results
Your score will point you toward your next steps in achieving your D2C goals.
If You Scored Less Than 10 Points
You are at the beginning of your journey to selling directly to consumers
Your answers indicate you are ready to begin planning your D2C operations. The best part about being at the beginning of your journey is you have the opportunity to plan and choose the right systems and processes that will grow with you and meet customer needs. Of course, it also means that there is work to be done before you can get to market.
You still have a lot of choices ahead of you as well. Will you offer all of your products, a subset, or just one to start? How will you manage orders and order fulfillment? What about returns and customer service? Having an e-commerce website is just the beginning.
If You Scored Between 10 and 15 Points
You have started down the path on your journey to sell directly to consumers
Your answers indicate you have some systems in place that will help you get up and running selling directly to consumers, but that you have some work to do before you launch. You may need to create, or re-create your e-commerce site, or streamline and automate some processes.
Direct-to-consumer sales require a well-thought-out e-commerce presence at the heart of your retail infrastructure, but it doesn’t stop there. Every technology choice you make to support your D2C sales should work with your business goals and objectives while driving sales and providing key product and consumer data.
If You Scored Between 16 and 20 Points
You are ready to start your D2C business
Congrats! Your answers indicate that you’re ready to get started with your D2C business. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some work still to be done. To get the most out of your direct sales, you need to be ready to scale your business while making sure you have a high-quality customer experience.
If your e-commerce platform isn’t efficient enough, or ready to scale as your D2C business expands, now is the time to act. You should review your business processes to make sure you have the right integrations and process automation in place to grow with your business. You’ll also want to review your marketing to make sure that the message you share about your products is the one that speaks to your customer’s pain points and walks them through the customer journey.
If You Scored More Than 20 Points
You are ready to refine your D2C business
Congratulations! You’ve got a well-oiled machine in place and are more than ready to start serving your customers directly.
Of course, every business knows that succeeding in today’s market means updating and improving processes, systems, and infrastructure to meet the needs of your business and customers. If you’re analyzing data locally, it might be time to consider moving your analytics and data warehouse to the cloud. You may have an e-commerce system in place, but are you taking advantage of every potential customer touchpoint or giving customers all the information they need? Will you have a subscription service, and will your systems support regular shipments and billings to subscribers? To remain competitive and agile in D2C, you’ll need to think well into the future and be ready when the market winds change.
Whatever stage you’re at, Curotec can help you meet the new demands that a Direct-to-Consumer move will require, from setting up an e-commerce platform to integrations with back-office systems. Contact us today and be ready to embrace D2C as part of your business.