Direct-to-consumer business is putting a lot of pressure on resellers. Until now, manufacturers, artists, artisans, and producers of all kinds have never had the platform to put their product in the hands of enough customers to support a viable business.
Now, that vast divide has closed enough so that the intermediary of a distributor or reseller is often not even necessary. Is the consumer’s direct access to sellers beneficial for small businesses, or is it a disadvantage?
Is the World Getting Bigger or Smaller?
It depends on how you look at it. In the sense that there is a massive amount of information available to far more people while the world population increases by billions over just a few decades, the world is definitely getting bigger. It feels smaller, though, for the same reasons.
Now that we’re all neighbors growing closer together in a global economy, the channels of commerce are drawing straight lines to the consumer, made possible by our ever-advancing technology.
Selling Traditionally with a Middle Man
Your business may still need a distributor or reseller (or you may be the distributor, yourself); not all products are going directly to the consumer. If you are still among those who cannot get your product out to the people without a middle man, then you may actually have a kind of advantage.
You can still go through your conventional distribution channels while also supplementing it with direct sales. In addition to pushing product through a reseller, why not sell it directly to people through your own website and social media outlets?
Using Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Exclusively
For many small businesses today, selling product directly to the customer is a miracle because they never would have been able to tap into such a large market in the past, without finding a reseller that would stock their product and push it out to the public for them.
Today, an artisan who makes handmade jewelry doesn’t need to persuade Target to give them a piece of an aisle in their stores; they just need to promote it on Facebook and Pinterest by way of online influencers and self-marketing. Then, they may find their business blowing up with success purely because of social proof.
This is far and wide a very good thing for small businesses. The only ones it really hurts are mainly large distributors and big box stores who have always thrived on those who manufacture quality products but don’t have the power to get their product to the larger market and turn a decent profit.
Those who control the means of distribution are not always the same people anymore. Direct-to-consumer businesses haven’t completely taken over at this point, but the global sphere of business is certainly trending in that direction.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.