Manufacturers are tapping into shoppers’ desire for convenience by cutting out the middle man and selling direct to consumers.

On Friday afternoons when I was growing up, the local baker would arrive with our weekly order of fresh loaves and, depending on my mother’s mood, possibly cream doughnuts.

Our milk was delivered in a similar fashion – direct to our front door and paid for on a weekly subscription basis.

While these types of services fell away as we moved over to supermarket shopping, recently they have been experiencing a renaissance as consumer demand for convenience grows.

Success can depend on the type of product or combination of products on offer.

Dollar Shave Club is the oft cited example – getting your shaving products delivered on a monthly basis.

Beverage company Hint Water found it challenging to get its product onto retailers’ shelves quickly enough, so it embraced direct to consumer [D2C] and now 40% of its products are shipped through subscriptions.

Who would have thought that people would want to get bottled water delivered to their door?

At Retail Week Live in March, some speakers were wary of the trend, arguing the consumer doesn’t want to have to manage multiple deliveries at home.

While that is true, the above examples show the consumer wants the right product presented in the right way.

Direct benefits

D2C can allow a level of predictability – you will know when your subscription services are going out so you can manage your supply chain efficiently to deal with peaks in volume or to spread out those peaks.

The other major advantage is that it you will be able to build up data on your customer behaviour, allowing you to get to know and understand your purchaser.

Ultimately that means you can deliver a better digital customer journey as you truly understand your audience.

The biggest challenges to this are a lack of experience in ecommerce and delivering the standard of digital service expected by today’s savvy consumer.

Launching a seamless and connected digital experience will be key to success.

“Launching a seamless and connected digital experience will be key to success”

Berkshire Blankets is an example of a brand that did just that.

Having sold its blankets through retailers for more than 20 years, it embraced ecommerce and launched a direct to consumer store.

This has led to increased sales and the ability to test out new products which it then rolls out to its retail partners.

So, if brands can focus on D2C for the right product set and deliver an excellent digital customer experience there is much to be gained.

Not least, rebuilding that one-to-one personal relationship with the customer, just like the one my mother had with the baker on Friday afternoons.


Maureen Oracle

Maureen O’Rourke, strategic industry lead – retail, Oracle