I like to fish. So imagine there was a brand of fishing equipment that I wanted to learn more about and possibly buy. I drive to the brand’s store and go in and browse, asking questions and looking at different items. I make a decision on a reel that suits my needs and then… I look around and there is no counter or cash register. I take my reel to someone that works at the store and say I want to buy this but don’t know where the checkout is. “Oh you can’t buy that here,” he says. “We don’t sell anything. You need to go to the store down the street and buy it there. But thanks for stopping in!”
That sounds completely absurd right? Well, here is another scenario. I like to fish, so imagine there is a brand of fishing equipment that I wanted to learn more about and possibly buy. I go to the brand’s website. It’s rich with content, including product videos, testimonials and how-to’s by other fisherman. There is a page where I can evaluate all the fishing reels and choose which best suits my needs. I pick one out and then… there is a link to Amazon where that reel is available to buy. It’s as if the site is telling me, “Thanks for visiting, but you can’t buy that here. You have to go down the street… .”
That also sounds completely absurd, but it happens all the time. There are many brands that have a robust site to interact with consumers, but then push the actual buying experience to another digital marketplace. “Thanks for stopping in… now go somewhere else!”
Most manufacturers realize the digital platform is an opportunity to promote brands and engage a consumer, but many are missing out on the opportunity to also capture the sale and create a complete customer experience.
In today’s retailing environment, consumers are looking for a seamless retail experience regardless of where they visit a brand: brick and mortar, web, social media and so on.
Brands need to adjust their thinking: they are no longer just manufacturers of products who rely on others to sell them. Brands are vertical retailers who need to build direct shopping and buying connections to consumers.
In fact, there is no greater value in consumer engagement than a visit directly to a manufacturer’s site. Let’s review the advantages:
- The brand website can show the breadth and depth of the product line together in one place. In contrast, a retail storefront will only carry selected item And digital marketplaces, such as Amazon, tend to not group or show products exclusive to one brand.
- The site can include detailed content, including reviews, testimonials, videos and instructional information all geared to educate, inform and engage the consumer.
- A direct sale, without a retailer middleman, often results in better margins and less dependence on retail outlets.
- More Sales! According to a study by Forrester Research, slightly over half (52%) of consumers are already visiting brand websites intending to make a purchase, and a third of those actually would prefer to buy directly from the manufacturer.
Further, an ecommerce purchase directly from a brand site offers a unique ability to promote the brand. Here are just a few examples:
- Customized/branded packaging – including the box, void-fill and ‘thank-you’ notes – all reflect the brand experience.
- The product will not arrive co-mingled with other purchases, as often happens with digital marketplaces like Amazon.
- The brand will have the ability to insert marketing materials, free samples, coupons and other promotional materials into the package. These inserts can enhance the experience for the consumer and build brand loyalty.
Today’s consumer has more options than ever before: they can buy a product at a store, buy it online, buy it online and have it delivered to a store, see it at a store and buy it on their phone—in short, an endless variety of sales channels.
When a consumer visits a manufacturer’s brand website, there is no reason to tell that consumer to go anywhere else. Don’t say, “You can’t buy it here.” Instead, say “which one would you like to buy right now?” You both win! (And that’s no fish tale!)
Tod Yazdi, is Principal and head of business development for TAGG Logistics