Ah, yes, the coveted direct-to-consumer sale. Many brand manufacturers have learned to love the bigger profit margins, not to mention the fact that they will have the buyer's undivided attention. There are no distractions from unrelated products, or from the competition's wares on a brand's website. It's the manufacturer's turf, plain and simple – but not really.
Today's consumers have become accustomed to having more available buying options than one brand manufacturer can conceivably offer. Different sellers provide different benefits or loyalty programs. Maybe prospective customers have been incentivized through other means, such as store credit cards or one-day shipping. Whatever the case, you'll catch more fish with a wider net in today's commerce landscape. If you know that potential customers are loyal to certain sellers, then why not throw those leads a bone?
Brand manufacturers who tell consumers where their products are available will have a better chance of increasing sales.
Accessibility is crucial
"Poor product accessibility is one of the top barriers to increasing sales."
It's certainly true that high-end, luxury brands can cultivate a sense of exclusivity by keeping their products under lock and key. However, even the most exclusive brands (i.e. Apple) have warmed to the idea that they can increase sales by building out a seller network. The main reason is accessibility. According to The Balance contributor Laura Lake, customers cannot buy what is not available to them. In fact, Lake argued that poor product accessibility is one of the top barriers to increasing sales.
Again, customers want to make purchases on their terms, which means that "accessibility" entails something very different than it did just five years ago. If shoppers want to buy from Amazon Prime, that's where they'll buy from, brands be darned.
Manufacturers therefore have two options: Lose that business, or make products accessible on consumers' favorite channels. One of these options is very clearly better than the other.
A brand's website should be a beacon for its customers
"A brand's website can light the path to purchase for shoppers."
All of this is not to say that brand manufacturers should abstain from selling on their own sites - only that they can extend their reach by working with third-party vendors. Of course, this is sales 101, but still many brand manufacturers haven't fully committed themselves to the idea. The tell-tale sign of a brand that is truly utilizing its seller network is one that lists exactly where its products are available to customers, and directs them to those online product pages. Because while it may not be convenient for a shopper to buy from your website at a certain moment in time, they may pull the trigger if they're pointed to a vendor that they've set up a quick-pay option with through a mobile app. Essentially, a brand's website can light the path to purchase for shoppers by telling them where to buy.
Bear in mind, customers may arrive at a brand's website at different stages in their buying journey. If they haven't committed to making a purchase, or are not immediately entranced by an item, they'll most likely want to hear what other consumers have said about it, and that means seeking out product reviews.
According to Harvard Business Review contributors Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, brands can benefit from directing shoppers in the early stages of buying toward product reviews. These can be third-party review websites for consumer technology, but also buyer reviews. So not only does a potential customer know upon visiting a brand's website where those products are available, but they also have immediate information on all the great things customers are saying about those products.
Last but not least, let's not forget about brick-and-mortar commerce. Thanks to digital integration and location-based data, brands can direct customers toward physical stores near them that have a certain product in stock. Facilitating this information with stores then opens up another window of opportunity – buy online and pick up in store.
It all comes back to the title. If you want to increase sales, tell customers where to buy your products. And if you need help figuring out how to do that, just click here.