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What’s Now, New, Next in D2C for Manufacturers and Distributors?

Woman Online Shopping On Smart Phone Fashion Clothes At Home

I was given the opportunity to partner with my colleague David Stallsmith to present at B2B Connect in San Diego, CA. We were thrilled to participate in this invite-only conference and host our session, “How to Prioritize Your Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Capabilities: What Should I Do Now vs Next?” We summarized why D2C is important to many companies during our workshop and discussed the latest trends. Then, we reviewed the D2C capabilities segmented into three groups: basic, emerging, and innovative.

At Perficient, we have a framework called “Now, New, Next” in which we associate the “Now” category to current capabilities, the “New” category to emerging capabilities, and the “Next” category to innovative capabilities. We use this framework to talk about a company’s maturity and develop a roadmap to help them with many transformational business needs. The most engaging part of our workshop was when we gave the audience time to complete their own Now, New, Next exercise for D2C capabilities and opened the discussion about what they saw as important to them.

Let’s discuss what was so exciting about these insights.

What’s Happening Right Now?

Regarding the “Now” category, SEO and marketing campaigns were the most checked items on the list of current capabilities. These categories’ popularity does not surprise me – if companies want their products to be found or heard about, then SEO and marketing campaigns are crucial components of the strategy.

Following these two current capabilities closely were customer experience and customer support. It’s good to see that the majority of companies have not only already identified that focusing on the customer is of utmost importance but also made significant moves towards providing excellence in customer care. Having a commerce site with a shopping cart and transaction capabilities was also checked off the same amount.

From these insights, you can begin to see the pattern: We want our site to be able to be found, we want to market the site and the products, and we want to have a great customer experience. Items that made the list, but weren’t quite as popular, were secure payment, product information, and basic analytics.

After reviewing where most of the companies are focusing in D2C capabilities, we would recommend more focus in basic commerce capabilities to focus on product information such as overview, specifications, and imagery early on in your journey. This is crucial to the customer experience and their ability to understand your products.

New: Where It Gets Interesting

What was checked the most on the “New” list? Of all the emerging capabilities, the most popular was triggered marketing campaigns. Again, this capability follows the theme we’re seeing of wanting to be able to act on the customer’s behavior on the site and follow up on what they found important. There were several tied for the most mentioned, a group of them having to do with the promotional type of capabilities: promotion, loyalty programs, and upselling. The others with the same number of mentions were commerce-related capabilities: shipping options and returns.

Again, these capabilities were focused on advancing the promotional and commerce capabilities mentioned in the “Now” basic category. We would recommend that capabilities such as upselling and cross-selling and a guided shopping experience be included in this phase.

What Are Cutting-Edge Companies Doing?

When it comes to the “Next” category, we naturally see much less checked off. This category lists only the most cutting-edge capabilities that will be adopted in the future, but companies are only just scratching the surface now.

When it comes to the most popular item in the “Next” category, I won’t be shocking anyone: AI-driven personalization was checked off the most. As we all know, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is a megatrend, and in D2C, it is no different. Next was A/B testing, which has a lot to do with the customer experience we saw so popular in the “New” category. Finally, we saw customer surveys and chatbots.

AI is going to have a big influence in everything that we do. In D2C, we see it has a big influence in triggering a personalized customer experience, conducting analysis of the customer behaviors, and powering a more intelligent chatbot.

Diving Into D2C Insights in Manufacturing and Distribution

There was a lot of logic in the feedback we received in the session, but there were also a few surprises. Of course, the companies wanted their site and products to be found, and of course they wanted to make sure they built a first-class customer experience on a commerce platform. Along with that, it’s clear that they would prioritize at least the basic shopping capabilities like good product information, shopping cart, shipping options, and returns.

But there are so many items that weren’t as popularly checked off in our categories that would be a huge difference in these areas, and we urge companies to consider making significant investments as soon as possible. Capabilities such as analyzing website traffic and customer behavior are key to informing your decisions regarding enhancements for your site. Further, guided selling is a capability that improves the customer experience by helping customers find parts that fit or complement the product they own or are thinking about purchasing.

Did you see any popular items here that aren’t on your list of capabilities? Were there any that you’re excited to prioritize in the coming months? Tap into our manufacturing industry expertise and reach out to discuss further with us the insights we’ve gathered and how to prioritize these direct-to-consumer capabilities.

Dive deeper into D2C for Manufacturers.

Thoughts on “What’s Now, New, Next in D2C for Manufacturers and Distributors?”

  1. The article on “What’s Now, New, Next in D2C for Manufacturers and Distributors” by Perficient provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of direct-to-consumer strategies. It’s essential reading for industry professionals navigating digital transformation and market trends. Thanks for sharing this informative piece!

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Kevin Espinosa

Kevin Espinosa is a Director of Strategy & Innovation at Perficient. He has 33 years of experience at Caterpillar Inc, where he was the Digital Marketing Product Manager. He specializes in digital transformation, digital marketing, architecture strategy, platform selection, and brand/partner strategy.

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