Large, well-established companies were once seen as relatively insulated from disruptions wrought by Amazon, Netflix and other Silicon Valley giants. This was a doubtful proposition to begin with, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken such assumptions to the core, for companies both large and small. Corporates cannot expect to weather the economic and social changes taking place by virtue of their market clout and mastery of traditional supply chains and distribution channels.
Consumers are unlikely to return to stores and business districts in the near future, nor can businesses simply rely on longstanding relationships with suppliers and retailers to keep production lines moving and shelves stocked. This environment requires enterprise-scale companies to forge new digital paths to market and form more direct relationships with consumers and end-users.
PYMNTS’ latest research report, Mastering Multichannel Commerce Playbook: The New Retail Reality, in collaboration with Citi, examines these technological and consumer behavioral shifts and looks at three emerging channels: direct-to-consumer (D2C), subscription and digital business-to-business (B2B) commerce platforms. The Playbook also features a case study on how the home furniture store Interior Define is putting digital D2C strategies into practice in a challenging economic environment.
The digital trends transforming consumer commerce have been slower to come to the B2B sector, where paper checks and invoices and word-of-mouth business relationships have remained prevalent. However, this has been steadily changing in recent years with the rise of digital platforms and marketplaces. The volume of B2B business transacted through eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon Business and Alibaba is projected to grow to $1.8 trillion by 2023 and make up 17 percent of all B2B sales. Companies are also opening up their own eCommerce platforms, allowing business customers to search for and purchase goods and services through web and mobile sites.
On the other side of the multichannel spectrum is D2C, which offers consumers the promise of skipping the messy world of in-store shopping and endless internet browsing to get products and services directly from their favorite brands and merchants. The space has seen a blurring of lines in recent years, with digital-native companies like Warby Parker opening up storefronts in select locations, and established brands setting up their own D2C channels as well. These trends have given rise to a D2C market that is expected to total $17.75 billion in 2020.
Interior Define is one such company that exemplifies these trends, as highlighted in our case study. The company started selling made-to-order sofas online in 2012 and later opened seven brick-and-mortar shops around the United States where consumers could view furnishings and meet with design consultants. But then the pandemic hit, and the company was forced to close or greatly limit operations at its stores and to redouble its focus on digital D2C. In the Playbook’s case study, Jill John, Interior Define’s chief customer officer, discusses what it takes to reach and connect with customers in a crowded online landscape.
To learn more about what these trends portend for established brands and companies, download the report.
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