This week on the blog, we’re taking a look at play #1 from our latest DTC playbook, ‘How to overcome common challenges of direct-to-consumer DTC eCommerce.’

Back in 2020, we started researching the common challenges Business-to-business (B2B) organisations were facing when trying to kick-start a DTC channel. The research would form part of the foundation for the critical industry plays we share and make the playbook relevant and useful for merchants.

Almost immediately, it became evident to our team that there was a common denominator in organisations that do succeed. They all had a well-defined business case for the DTC channel before beginning solution design and development. Meaning that, for the most part, their executive stakeholders were aligned across everything from crucial objectives and organisational benefits to the budget and timeline for a proposed solution.

In essence, they had nailed the ‘why’ of introducing a new DTC channel before beginning.

Why are we doing this? Not ‘what’ are we doing.

To create a DTC channel with an enduring sense of purpose that provides real value for customers, you first need to nail the business case. Here’s why…


Build a well-defined business case for DTC eCommerce

The classical definition of project success centres on achieving results on time, on budget and producing the agreed set of technical deliverables. Yet, producing the approved set of deliverables does not ensure the project itself will be a success.

Increasingly, the need for a well-defined business case for a DTC eCommerce solution is the first order of business for any organisation serious about succeeding in the market landscape. Of course, the business case must address what the outputs will be and what investment is required to do this. It must also outline what the perceived benefits to the organisation are.

A well-defined business case must create a vision for the project, or solution, which can demonstrate the organisational benefit, further, how the solution can continue to evolve once deployed, with a platform innovation roadmap. This should outline future investments which will be required beyond the initial development or ‘phase one’ rollout.

DTC Elements of a business case, image

Throughout a project of this scale, the business case is an instrumental piece of documentation. Before commencement, the business case will be essential to secure the funding required from senior leadership by demonstrating the outputs and wider benefit. Additionally, it allows leadership and key stakeholders to agree on key outcomes before any development begins.

At the beginning of the project, the business case will be used to assist in developing a project plan that will include milestones, timeline, budget, technical specifications etc. Finally, on completion the business case will be helpful to measure the success of the project. For example, it will help all involved to pose questions such as, did we (the organisation) achieve what we set out to do? Has the solution been delivered to the technical specification required? And, is the solution being used in the way the business had intended post-deployment?

Organisations must not underestimate the value of producing a well-defined business case before investing in a DTC eCommerce solution. At Balance Internet, we see that those who invest time into doing so, begin with a solid foundation and enduring sense of purpose.

DTC playbook, James Horne profile image

James Horne

Director of Strategy,
Balance Internet

You should place a very high emphasis on working collaboratively with stakeholders when developing a business case for DTC. Developing high-quality documentation from the beginning sets the tone for any eCommerce development and is beneficial to all involved.

There can often be a level of resistance towards developing a business case for DTC, given the exceptional negotiation and influence required when dealing with varied stakeholders to obtain business objectives. But collaborative input from the onset will only strengthen the solution development and outcomes.

Organisations should always seek external consultation when possible, to provide specialist advice in business case development and the application of required standards and frameworks as required.

Download the playbook

As DTC eCommerce gains speed, an unprecedented number of organisations are taking the leap to grow a profitable new channel. Our playbook contains actionable real-world plays to overcome the most common challenges we see when launching a DTC channel.

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