DTC insights from Head of Digital Transformation at Adobe APAC, Scott Rigby

Earlier this year, the team at Balance Internet started working with Scott Rigby, Head of Digital Transformation for APAC at Adobe, to develop a new playbook all about direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce. 

The playbook, which you can download here, is titled ‘How to overcome common challenges of direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce.’

Last year, we noticed a sizable surge of interest in DTC channels, which sparked the opportunity for us to work together with Scott and the Adobe team. We wanted to provide B2B organisations exploring DTC with some actionable solutions to the problems they face.

In this blog post, we share three things Scott and the team at Adobe want you to know before you get started in DTC eCommerce.

What is DTC eCommerce and why does it matter?

As eCommerce continues to accelerate globally, DTC selling is fast becoming an essential play for B2B organisations. Entire industries are adapting and evolving in response to changes in the supply chain.

Globally, eMarketer reports that worldwide eCommerce will approach $5 trillion by the end of 2021. As recently as 2018, worldwide eCommerce sales had not yet topped $3 trillion. eMarketer reports that the $4 trillion line was easily breached in 2020, $5 trillion will be achieved by 2022, and $6 trillion will be reached by 2024. In 2020, 18.0% of all retail sales took place via eCommerce. In 2024, that figure will reach 21.8%.

Closer to home, the global pandemic saw a change to the Australian eCommerce industry on a never before seen scale. According to Australia Post, in 2020, more people were shopping online than ever before – up 31% to 5.2 million compared to the average in 2019. Consequently, online goods spend grew by 95% YOY, with online purchases continuing to grow at a rapid rate.

These shifts online have been dramatic and will undoubtedly alter behaviour for pure-DTC companies, B2B companies, their customers, and the volume of sales DTC will account for moving forward. 

eMarketer also reported that DTC eCommerce sales from digitally native established brands grew 45.5% last year, generating a whopping $111.54 billion, making up 14% of total retail eCommerce sales. eMarketer further expects relatively steady growth each year through to 2023, with DTC eCommerce sales set to reach $174.98 billion at that time.

Still not convinced? The US-based direct-to-consumer purchase index predicts that more than 80% of consumers are expected to make at least one purchase through a DTC brand within the next five years.

The case for DTC commerce in the eCommerce landscape is clear. It is certainly an emerging sales channel and will likely continue to contribute in a significant way to global eCommerce.

The mammoth opportunity for B2B brands

When executed well, the DTC eCommerce model can open new revenue streams, grow closer customer relationships, provide improved business efficiencies and offer B2B organisations the chance to enter a growth phase. 

What’s more, by creating a DTC solution, the far-reaching environment and significant advances in eCommerce technology have made it possible for brands to scale and build brand awareness far quicker than if they were to create a physical store.

DTC also offers B2B organisations a platform to test the latest product and service innovation, giving these brands direct access to their consumers’ feedback for analysis and evaluation. A new advantage in many instances, with game-changing access to previously unavailable consumer data.

3 things to consider before starting a DTC channel

#1 Is the business clear about DTC’s role in broader operations?

Organisations should place a very high emphasis on working collaboratively with stakeholders when developing a business case for DTC. It needs to be clear from the onset what the DTC channel will contribute to the overall business so that outcomes are measurable. Developing high-quality, inclusive documentation such as a well-defined business case from the beginning sets the tone for any eCommerce development and is beneficial to all involved.

Best-practice companies we work with are often reasonably clear on the role of DTC in their overall channel strategy before engaging a partner to build the solution. For example, it must be evident in the business case for DTC from the onset if the key objectives are to drive sales, stabilise market share, generate customer insights, generate feedback on new product ranges and services, become the primary or secondary sales channel, or otherwise. Without this clarity, it’s impossible to measure if the platform has been successful after implementation. It’s also complicated to get various business units to align on the core purpose of the solution and its role for the organisation.

How can you make sure the business is clear about DTC’s role? Scott says collaborative work with business stakeholders and a well-defined business case are crucial to success.

#2 How will you harness the powerful data and analytics of the platform?

DTC companies who want to stay relevant and innovative often look to market leaders or emerging industry trends for inspiration to enhance the customer experience. 

According to Scott though, often all the inspiration you could possibly need is right at your fingertips – your customer data and platform analytics. 

Understanding what your customers actually want, a vital component to business growth is within your reach with a DTC platform. From the moment it goes live, organisations have unlimited access to data, which when harnessed effectively can tell you everything you need to know about gaps in the current customer experience.

The most common types of customer needs, such as functionality, convenience, good on-site experience, easy to use design, reliability, performance, and efficiency, are constant focus areas for leading DTC organisations we work with. They also never stop striving to improve the customer experience using the data and analytics they have access to.

How can you best harness the platform data and analytics? Scott says that having a data review framework within your organisation is a great place to start. Ensure this is addressed in solution design, and how it can be used across the organisations to drive decision making where appropriate. 

#3 How can your organisation best maximise their technology investment?

To get the most out of a significant investment in technology to implement a DTC channel, organisations should invest appropriately in the right platform and right solution partner to bring your commerce vision to life. 

This is particularly true where complex systems integration is required with existing business systems – working with a flexible and scalable platform to meet your requirements, as is working with a solution partner that can architect a solution to suit your business needs.

Taking a phase-based approach to implementation can also be a highly effective way to demonstrate to your project stakeholders the value of initial investments and keep the project delivery achievable within any business constraints (time, budget, or otherwise) the business may have.

What’s the best way to ensure you are getting the best out of your technology investment? Scott says that organisations should drive maximum value from their technology investment by introducing a robust platform that can consolidate both B2B and DTC offerings from one central location—removing the need for two separate systems can be a game-changer for B2B organisations. 

In Summary

  • Build a well-defined business case for DTC to nail your approach and clearly define goals before you start development.
  • Prioritise using data and analytics to improve your target demographic’s customer experience. Do this by creating a data and analytics framework if you don’t already have one in place.
  • Drive maximum value from your technology investment, starting with assessing how an eCommerce platform could consolidate your organisations B2B and DTC operations.

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