When we started Manmade, the choice to become a Direct-to-Consumer brand was clear. As a DTC brand we would have the freedom to create for our customers without having to be under the whims of retailers. We would be able to have a direct hand at solving problems that we were familiar with. We would also have the agility and the freedom of giving our customers what they want.
Most importantly, we wanted to establish direct relationships with customers. We wanted to build a brand that is authentic and will have honest and open discussions with customers, allowing us to provide more value for them.
But as much as we know the benefits of being a DTC brand, we’re also aware of how consumers may have issues with trusting DTC brands. We get it. We’ve been there. With big brands there’s the comfort of knowing exactly what you’re getting.
So we’re going to lay bare all the reasons why you should and should not buy from a DTC brand.
Reasons to Buy from a DTC Brand
1. You can a have a better and deeper relationship with a DTC brand
The great thing about DTC brands is that you can establish a deeper connection and understanding with them as a buyer. DTC brands will often handle a small subset of the market that they want to cater to, so they are more invested in connecting with their target population and getting to know their customers better. They’ll also be more flexible in their communication, as well as personalize each interaction.
2. A DTC brand is quick to respond to feedback
Big retailers sell in big volumes. That means more orders, and that also means far more customer feedback they have to handle. This is more likely to slow down their response times. However, with a DTC brand each customer feedback is super important to them, and they will not only be quick to respond, but they’ll also be quick to adapt to their customers’ needs.
3. DTC brands can offer a better shopping experience
First is that you may be able to get better quality items cheaper because DTC brands can afford more freedom on pricing. They don’t have restrictions that are being put on them by big retailers, and that means they can do more sales, discounts and adaptive price changes. Also, DTC brands tend to not have the overhead costs of a traditional retailer, such as a physical store, and this is also reflected in the price tag.
With DTC brands, you also get omni-channel shopping experiences, meaning you can shop anywhere through various options, such as through your smartphone, or on the web. You don’t have to go wait in line at a store, deal with parking, or look at when things open and close. DTC brands give you much more freedom in how you can buy their products.
4. A DTC brand can provide high quality niche products that retailers don’t carry
Large retailers put out products if it makes sense for them in terms of cost and profit. This includes whether there will be a big market for a certain product. If there isn’t, large retailers may not carry them.
However, in the case of DTC brands, the focus is on providing high quality goods for narrower sections of the consumer market. Thus, they are able to offer products that can’t be easily found among big retailers.
5. A DTC brand can offer you much more value outside of the product
Finally, a DTC brand’s value is so much more than its product. Typically, DTC brands will put much more effort into providing informative content in order to educate their customers, as well as give value added so that they can foster a community around their brand.
Reasons to Not Buy from a DTC Brand
Now of course, this does not mean that a DTC brand is simply better; there are downsides to DTC brands:
1. A DTC brand can be more expensive
One of the biggest advantages of a retailer is their scale. Many DTC brands keep smaller inventory, which means they have to raise unit costs in order to survive as a business. In addition, retailers have efficiency within their supply chain systems that DTC brands do not have access to. Simple things such as returns are very costly for DTC brands. All of this adds up, leading to a DTC brand’s product having higher unit cost than that of a traditional large retailer.
2. 3rd party shipping
DTC brands, due to their smaller size, have to rely on 3rd party shipping options. This can obviously lead to a few issues in terms of shipping. One prominent example is that there will be higher shipping costs associated with DTC brands than your bigger retailers who may be able to offer shipping at a lower price, or even for free.
In the end, it’s about having choice
So which is better? Buying from retailers? Or DTC brands? The answer isn’t that simple. Both have their flaws and benefits. The point is that you have the choice to either buy from a retailer or a DTC brand and see for yourself what you prefer. It could be that for certain products, buying from a large retailer makes sense. For others, DTC brands could be superior. The most important thing is that you stay informed about them, and make a purchasing decision that is right for you.