It pays to be direct

Whose customer is it anyway?

One of the more visible trends during the pandemic years was the pivot towards direct sales to customers, also known as ‘D2C’. Big brands embraced direct selling in a big way, using every channel and social medium open to them.

As more and more consumers shop online, direct-to-consumer brands have taken the industry by storm. From clothing to software to pet accessories, these brands are not only making a name for themselves, but also giving traditional brick-and-mortar companies a run for their money.

But in fact, this trend started long before the coronavirus redefined globalization and industrial supply chains. While financial services like banks and insurers had long been ‘going direct’, durable goods like cars and appliances were traditionally sold through agents, dealerships and retailers. That held true, initially, for computers and smartphones too.

Then Apple became its own retailer, online and off, and Tesla broke the mould by dispensing with dealers altogether, with its factory-to-owner delivery model.

Mass manufacturers of global products were happy to let platforms like Amazon and Alibaba deal with customers and fulfilment. But niche players like wineries and fashion houses knew the benefits of being directly connected to their customers.

Now it’s the norm to see brands managing their own online shopfront, live-streaming infomercials and promotions, and taking orders, of course. And customers have become used to going straight to the source; from airline flights to electric cars to furniture, and everything in between.

Ask yourself; whose customer are you, anyway?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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