7 reasons why manufacturers should sell direct to consumers via ecommerce

As a manufacturer of quality goods, you’ll know how difficult it can be to make an impact in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. The chances are, you’ve spent years refining your products, experimenting with new materials and production methods, working hard to build relationships with B2B customers and securing contracts with distribution partners.

And though your business may be ticking over just nicely, no company should rest easy or assume it will be plain sailing forever. As the COVID-19 crisis has taught us, businesses can be turned upside down overnight, and being able to quickly adapt is the key to success.

With UK online retail sales up 6.3% and the global B2C ecommerce market set to be worth an eye-watering $7,700 billion by 2025, you can no longer ignore the figures. Changing your business model may be scary, but there are many reasons why you should give it a go…

Help your customers

Perhaps the most obvious reason why you should sell directly to consumers is to help them find the products they need. The chances are you regularly receive enquires about one-off orders, and either have to turn them away or point them towards one of your distributors.

By opening up your business to a new audience, your end-users can access products they want, cutting out the middleman and helping you to serve them better. And because your store will feature product literature and FAQs, they’ll get the support they need to use your merchandise without you having to invest in a dedicated customer service department.

Get insights into your users

Another benefit to selling directly to consumers is so you can collect data on who they are and what they want. Sure, B2B customers can give you an indication of what their customers need based on order numbers and occasional feedback, but that doesn’t come close to the data that you can collect on your end-users. With tracking tools and customer survey forms, you’ll work out which products are in demand, what users want, and how much they’ll spend.

Armed with that data, you can tweak your product offering to better serve your B2B and B2C customers, experimenting with new ideas, pitching them directly to users to gather feedback.

Increased profit margins

Though your third-party resellers and distributors will help to keep the lights on and buy your products in bulk, they make a healthy margin whenever they sell your products. Taking them out of the equation and selling products directly to users, even at less than the retail price, means that you’re lowering the cost per acquisition and increasing your margin on each sale.

It’s important to remember, however, that selling direct to consumers could have a negative impact on your B2B trade. Be sensitive when pricing and marketing your products so as not to ‘rock the boat’. Find the right balance between your B2C and B2C sales channels.

One other thing to bear in mind - when you sell your products directly to retailers, you also pass on the responsibility of customer service and distribution. When you sell to consumers, you need to think about delivering customer service, the cost of distribution, and handling returns. It may take some time to iron out issues and find a price and strategy that works.

Offer your whole product catalogue

As a manufacturer, the chances are that you make dozens of high-quality products that are complementary to one another. Your B2B partners, though, may only be interested in two or three of them, fleshing out your range with other products from rival brands. They may also only stock a few colours, sizes, or variations of your products, leaving some customers to go without or look for alternatives - again, benefiting rival manufacturing brands rather than you.

When you open an ecommerce store and allow consumers to buy direct, you’ll be able to show them your entire product range. Existing fans of your brand may be surprised to learn that you offer a product they didn’t know existed, increasing their order value and loyalty.

Reach a wider audience

With the right marketing techniques, you can introduce your ecommerce brand to thousands of new customers both here in the UK and around the world. The cost of hiring a sales team in every country you want to operate in would be huge, but modern ecommerce software allows you to sell your products in different currencies and languages at a click of a button, and most distribution companies offer competitively-priced international shipping, which could help you to carve out a new market in a country you never anticipated working in.

Shape the sales process

You manufacture your products, and you know how they work and should be used better than anyone. When you sell to consumers, you can shape the sales process, offering a truly personal experience that resellers and rival stores cannot compete with. This added value not only helps you build long-term relationships but encourages customers to bookmark your website, return when they next need up stock up and recommend you to their friends.

Sell all day, all night

Your sales department might deliver results and help you secure lucrative contracts with big players in your industry, but they only work 8 hours a day. With an ecommerce store, your business becomes more accessible and allows you to reach customers all day, all night.

What’s more, it frees up your sales team to focus on identifying and landing new B2B clients and ensuring existing ones are kept happy. With the right social media marketing and SEO strategy, your B2C ecommerce department can run with little day-to-day involvement.

Our Gemsuite B2B ecommerce platform can be customised dependent on user login, so you can build one website that serves both your trade and consumer markets, showing different pricing and product details. Reach out on 01656 330 360 today for a free demonstration.