May 6, 2020>
As a B2B business you have likely explored a direct to consumer (DTC) proposition.
A DTC model is more important now more than ever because the challenges we are having in today’s climate are disrupting our current ways of doing business and we need to be ready to engage customers in the way they want and need to shop.
The fact that prior to the pandemic *87% of consumers preferred to do research directly with the brand or manufacturer and purchase directly from their site is not minor. This insight tells us that there not only is a need for businesses to tap into new ways of working, but also that a demand for the DTC model exists on the consumer side. With this in mind, let us introduce the three steps to getting started on this journey:
- First, assess readiness.
- Then, get real product into market.
- Finally, measure; learn and iterate.
The first step in making the pivot is understanding how ready your company is to run a DTC offering. The assessment should provide an answer to three questions:
- Is your company financially and operationally prepared to support a hybrid business model?
- Do you have the people and teams that can run your DTC offering?
- Have you defined the market positioning for your product that will resonate the most?
Most businesses will be saying “no” to at least 1 if not all of these questions. The key here is to turn your “no’s” into “how’s” and leaning in as an organization. Challenge yourselves on how you can move at pace to get a product to market by walking through operational areas to assess readiness.
- Product: What are my top selling products? Which could benefit from a margin lift?
- Marketing: Which customer segments are likely to purchase directly? How capable are our channels to reach them?
- Technology: How performant and scalable is our infrastructure? How available are our core data sets to power a commerce experience?
- Inventory: Where do our products physically sit? What risks or constraints do we have in our logistics networks?
- Customer Service: How will we resolve customer complaints? How will we answer product related inquiries in a timely manner?
After the readiness assessment, we move to building early.
When working with clients to launch a digital commerce solution, the requirements that teams want are typically feature rich and would take months if not years to get to an enterprise grade solution. We often hear from clients – go to “Amazon, Apple, Nike, BMW” and check out how they do it. Well – guess what – you aren’t those guys. They have years if not decades of experience running their digital business and you need to start with the basics which you can quickly iterate upon. Capitalize on the NOW opportunity and go lean.
There are a number of technologies that allow us to iterate and move at pace while we work with the business to make sure we align on the optimal long-term vision. This is one of the biggest challenges clients tend to struggle with, but there are benefits you can reap from having the courage to go to market with a simple yet viable solution.
Now: Pilot Program (week 1 to 12)
We’ll start with a base eCommerce product and that allows us to get to market quickly. That eCommerce platform should at a minimum manage product data, inventory and ordering systems including checkout. From a design perspective we will begin with a templated approach to design and content. It’s important to identify our KPIs and have systems in place to provide us analytics and reporting.
Once you have a product in the market you are able to have a foundation you can build and iterate upon.
A typical enterprise ecommerce project can take 9 months to years depending on your organization. However, we are able to move faster if we decouple the process from pilot program to enterprise management.
Near: Test, learn, iterate (week 12 onwards)
After launching the initial pilot this is the opportunity to not only look at the data from the site and the customer feedback but help us test and learn internally from a change management perspective and how we are further operationalizing this change in the business.
Next: Enterprise Management
- Expand inventory capabilities with further integration into the warehouse.
- Expand product details – documentation, imagery, videos.
- Expand analytics capabilities.
- User preferences.
- Loyalty programs.
- Ratings and reviews.
Moving into the future we will be well placed to have gathered feedback from the organization as we move into our enterprise solution. By no means is this a hard and fast playbook – you will have to choose the feature sets that make the most sense for your business – but the key thing is they have to be functional, performant, and reliable to give your customers the confidence to come back.
Making progress is better than eternally planning
There are clearly a set of challenges businesses can encounter on this journey: wanting to get everything correct on the first deployment, replicating legacy ways of working from offline and assessing ROI on features are some of them. At Kin + Carta we believe that, even though building an effective digital commerce is complicated, we shouldn’t be afraid to move at pace; get the basics right and build upon a foundation where we can deliver early, continuously improve, and take advantage of the lessons learned from performance-in-market.