Add to Cart: Why e-Commerce and DTC are Key to Digital Transformation
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I did something incredible: I got a pint of ice cream delivered to my front door. The best part? It hadn’t even melted yet.
When the global pandemic hit in early 2020 and forced people to quarantine inside their homes and stay out of public places like, for example, the grocery store, the ripple effects were immense. Businesses moved their entire workforces online, every kid suddenly became homeschooled, and even the local veterinarian developed a “drop-off-your-pet policy.” (My cat, as anyone who has ever known a cat might guess, was not amused).
Unsurprisingly, the shutdown also led to an increase in online sales as people found themselves unable to window shop and instead turning to their browsers to fulfill their retail needs. CNBC reports that in 2020 alone, Americans spent over $791.7 billion on e-commerce, a whopping 32% more than in 2019.
Now, as businesses begin opening up again and more and more of the country gets vaccinated, the question becomes: is this a trend, or a principle? Is eCommerce the new shopping norm? Will these numbers continue to rise?
Looking at how the world of business has evolved in the last year, all signs seem to point to “Yes.”
eCommerce and Digital Transformation
Digital transformation refers to adoption of digital platforms and services in order to carry out functions of a business.
Accordingly, e-commerce refers to the sale of products and services over the Internet. While e-commerce itself is not a new concept – Amazon has been running the game since 1995 – the types of products and services available across digital mediums has grown significantly in recent history. Nowadays, you can even buy a full-sized vehicle online.
For businesses, this trend towards online fulfillment for everything from clothing to groceries to basic consumer goods requires a reconsideration of how to integrate customer demand with digital enterprise. More and more consumers are looking to buy goods online, and even those who purchase in person still like the option of reviewing the product online first.
Shopify, a popular platform for online retail and e-commerce websites for business, reports that the global e-commerce market is estimated to total $4.89 trillion in 2021.
As business leaders consider their role in this major shift to digital transactions, here’s something important to keep in mind: the modern consumer has already digitally transformed; now it’s up to the companies to follow suit.
The Role of DTC in the Digital Marketplace
There are many different forms of e-commerce transactions, including retail, wholesale, subscription, and even digital downloads.
Similarly, there are different types of e-commerce models, the most popular of which are B2C – business to consumer – and B2B – business to business. The former refers to a business that sells a product to a customer, either in-store or online. The latter refers to businesses that sell to other businesses, like a paper company that sells to a print store.
Although related to B2C in that the goal is to deliver the product from the business to the consumer, DTC (direct to consumer) takes the seller–customer relationship one step further. Unlike traditional B2C e-commerce that often relies on a retailer middleman to actually fulfill the order, in DTC models, the manufacturer sells directly to the consumer, handling the entire process from purchase to fulfillment. Etsy storefronts are a great example of DTC because each seller is responsible for processing orders and shipping out their products.
DTC is hugely important to the digital transformation conversation because a successful DTC retailer must have a strong digital presence. This includes a smart and efficient e-commerce experience inclusive of supply chain management, shipping and returns, marketing, customer service, and of course, the online storefront and catalog itself.
A Digital Business for Digital Customers
You may have seen the memes about Amazon Prime delivery services: place an order and within seconds, the iconic blue van with the swoosh is already at your doorstep. It’s an exaggeration … but not by much.
E-commerce customers want a digital buying experience that is efficient, intuitive, and convenient. In exchange, they’re willing to forgo the in-store experience and wait a few days for delivery.
It can be daunting at first to think about how to move your physical business operations online, but the truth is that it’s the best way to scale and grow your business without having to change the core work that you do. You’ve always said you believe in putting your customers first; if that’s the case, then e-commerce is just one more way to continue building meaningful relationships that keep your customers happy and loyal.
Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital transformation for your business? Check out our eBook, Elevate Your Marketing Through Digital Transformation