E-commerce Spotlight: How Branded Manufacturers Can Use Retail-Integrated E-commerce to Make Consumers, Affiliate Retailers and Themselves Happy
Are you a branded manufacturer looking for the best way to sell your products online? If so, you know it's a complex decision—you recognize you have to sell online to keep up with consumer expectations and demand, but you want to be sensitive to your valuable distributor relationships.
Because of this conflict, many brands just hide their head in the online sand, hoping e-commerce will pass. It will not. In fact this year, e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $180 billion dollars. To avoid missing out on their share of that revenue, brands typically implement one or a combination of four strategies for selling online:
- refer shoppers to their retailers through a dealer locator;
- refer shoppers to their online retailers through direct "product-to-product" links;
- bypass retailers and sell direct to online consumers; and
- sell direct to online shoppers and use their retailers for fulfillment ("retail-integrated e-commerce").
Each of these solutions impacts consumer satisfaction, distributor relationships and bottom-line sales in different ways.
When it comes to adding e-commerce functionality to your branded site, branded manufacturers have more to consider than the typical online retailer. Essentially, you have two customers: your retail partners and the end consumer. Many brands facing the decision of whether to sell online think they have to choose between pleasing one or the other. They can either please their retailers by not selling online (brands selling online are essentially competing with their retailers for sales), or please consumers by making it easy for them to buy direct from the brand's website.
Your first two options noted above, dealer locators and product-to-product links, direct customers away from your branded website to a retailer's website or store to purchase. In the second case, shoppers looking at specific products on your website are directed from the product page to a retailer's website, where they can make their purchase.