E-commerce Spotlight: How Branded Manufacturers Can Use Retail-Integrated E-commerce to Make Consumers, Affiliate Retailers and Themselves Happy
These options exist because brands want to give customers a buying option and still support their retail partners. However, shoppers end up frustrated when they have to leave the brand website they trust for an independent site they are unfamiliar with or, even worse, start calling the stores from the dealer locator to find out if they stock their desired items. Many shoppers simply jump ship when they are directed away from the brand website. And worse yet, with these strategies it is possible a shopper will go to the retail shop or website with intention to buy your product, but end up buying a competitor's.
To avoid some of these pitfalls, some brands go with option three above, selling online direct to consumers. Consumers love this option because they are able to buy direct from the brand in a single, convenient experience. The problem with this model is that it cuts out your biggest customer, your retailers. Retailers aren't happy when they start losing sales to your website, and, in many cases, they will reduce or stop buying from you. In a recent survey conducted by Shopatron, 64 percent of retailers confirmed they would reduce or stop buying from brands that decided to sell direct on their website. So, while you are pleasing end consumers by selling online, you have to be careful you aren't shooting yourself in the foot by permanently damaging valuable retail relationships.
A better option for many brands is the fourth, "retail-integrated e-commerce." Retail-integrated e-commerce looks like a typical e-commerce website to the consumer. Shoppers come to your branded website, research products and make their purchases. It's what happens behind the scenes that makes this solution unique. Once the sale is completed, the transaction is handed off to a retailer in the buyer's area who fulfills the sale, either by shipping the item to the customer or hosting the customer in-store for order pickup.