Recent Posts

Our Newest Web Project Launches

Aug 21—We are happy to announce the birth of our newest baby - a brand new website for Warkwyn Associates. Who? Warkwyn is an accomplished audio design and engineering firm. We are sharing this news with...Read More

Look Like Who You Really Are

Jul 30— Do you look like who you are? This question is not an “if a tree falls in the woods” Zen kind of question. What we are really asking is: "Do your graphics and other marketing...Read More

Redefining the word Customer

Jul 01—We recently attended the InfoComm trade show in Las Vegas and came away thinking about the meaning of the word “customer” and the way one’s definition influences a brand’s marketing...Read More

Point Of Sale Displays that Sell Product

Jun 17—You are already using the Internet, social networks and traditional media to reach the customer with your brand story. But if you’re not telling your unique brand and product story at bricks and...Read More

What do your customers think of you

Jun 03—A special guest blog by Wendy Price Some of you may say, “I already know what they think.”  Others of you might say, “I’ll just ask my sales people and account managers...Read More

Ten Print Advertising Tips

May 22—In our last blog we made a compelling case that print advertising is relevant and valuable even in this digital age. Now we turn our attention to a handful of basic techniques for making your print advertising...Read More

The Value of Print Advertising

May 07—We almost always include print advertising in our clients’ marketing and media plans. Sometimes we get the reaction “Print? Really? We hear that print is dead.”  There is no...Read More

Making Text More Readable

Apr 15—Words. Every marketer needs them. Sometimes you need a lot of words to get your sales message across. (In our imaginations) our readers hunger to fully understand the marketing techniques we...Read More

Retail Reality-Product Demos-and You

Apr 02—Remember when owning a decent stereo was a major life goal and when shopping in a hi-fi store was fun? We are unapologetically nostalgic for the days when retailers actively sold A/V products; when the...Read More

Ma Mark Marketing or the Importance of Email Subject Lines

Mar 19—Regular readers of the CE Marketing Prose newsletter may have noticed oddities in our last two emails. The February 19 edition went out with the subject line “Mark” in place of “Marketing...Read More

How to Stay out of the Trashcan or the Lessons Learned from a Parking Lot

Mar 04—Marketers of CE products should count themselves lucky. We have it easy; we’re selling fun stuff – toys that help people enjoy great music and entertaining movies and TV programming. But just...Read More

Five Ways to Make Time for Customer Outreach

Feb 19—“Time keeps everything from happening all at once." - Henri Bergson  If you’ve read our website or spoken with us about marketing you know that we’re absolutely rabid...Read More

Brands that Communicate Win

Feb 05—The most successful brands regularly keep in touch and stay top of mind with their customers (end-users and channel partners) via blogs, newsletters and social media. With the advent of new Google search...Read More

Content is Definitely King since Google Changed Search Algorithms

Jan 28—The word “algorithm” is the equivalent of Ambien – it puts most people right to sleep. So it is miraculous that we actually read the news about Google’s newest search engine algorithms...Read More

How Pawn Takes Queen

Jan 20—We would like all of our readers to believe we are the source of all marketing wisdom and insight.  While that is largely true, sometimes we stumble upon someone who has written an article that perfectly...Read More

Should High-End CE Companies Bother with Social Media

Dec 11—On several occasions clients have asked us whether it was worth their time and effort to participate in social media outreach. The tone in which the question was asked told us that the answer they wanted...Read More

Rants from the Frozen Tundra

Nov 25—A friend of ours from the land of baby seals* was inspired by our blog Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good  to send us a couple of rants regarding Big Mistakes he sees CE manufacturers consistently...Read More

Flying Without Navigation

Nov 13—Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the research bomb* Imagine you are on a jumbo jet for a 15-1/2 hour flight from LA to Australia. Just after takeoff the pilot announces, “Ladies and...Read More

Coal into Diamonds - Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good

Oct 26—We often advise our clients to allow consumers to post reviews on the company website. From the looks of horror on their faces you would think we had proposed offing Granny for the insurance money....Read More

Direct to Consumer Sales and Channel Stress

Oct 14—One of the many services we offer our clients is helping develop direct-to-consumer sales programs for their websites and email communications. When we’ve mentioned that option to some potential...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part Three

Oct 02—In our previous two blog posts we wrote about eight of the top twelve things a brand's website needs to do to be effective. If you didn't read Part One and Part Two you might want to...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part Two

Sep 17—In our last blog post we wrote about four of the top twelve things a brand's website needs to do to be effective. If you didn't read Part One you might want to do that now...................Done? ...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part One

Aug 28— It should be unnecessary to say it in this day and age but just for the record – Your website is the single most important weapon in your marketing arsenal. Don't believe it? When you're...Read More

Oct 14

Direct to Consumer Sales and Channel Stress

One of the many services we offer our clients is helping develop direct-to-consumer sales programs for their websites and email communications. When we’ve mentioned that option to some potential clients they looked at us with Home Delivery has changed shopping habits​horrified expressions as if we had suggested burning down an orphanage. We would never do that; we love orphans!

We understand this is a tricky issue and there are no easy answers. Most of our clients distribute through bricks and mortar retailers and/or custom installing specialists, groups that are understandably hostile to competing with their suppliers. While it is true that “most every brand is doing it,” that won’t be enough of a justification to keep you out of hot water. But there are some conditions under which direct to consumer ecommerce may make sense.

These are some of the legitimate, defendable reasons to engage in some level of direct sales: If you have large swatches of territory where your products are not represented in B&M retailers and you don’t have an Internet retail partner it is perfectly justifiable to offer direct-to-consumer sales. Or you may have accessories, parts or old models that your retailers simply do not stock. Consumers have a right to fast, convenient access to those accessories, parts and obsolete items and manufacturers have an obligation to make them readily available.

We’ve seen vendors hang Buy Now buttons on their sites and wait for the cash register to ring. Usually they wait in vain. Were it only that easy! Online buyers prefer to buy from retailers rather than manufacturers. Retailers can provide every part of a system, not just the speakers or electronics or TV. Online retailers have robust customer service and sales staff behind the website for 12 or more hours a day. Online retailers have experience in SEO, SEM (paid search word advertising) and other marketing techniques for attracting customers. Most brands can’t do any of those things. In short, retailers know what they’re doing; manufacturers generally don’t, but they can learn.

The first lesson to learn is never, never, never undercut your retailers’ offers for current model “A” goods. In most cases an on online transaction will not be subject to sales tax (although that may change soon) so if you want to level the playing field, charge for freight. If you feel the need to make a special offer to boost sell-through, make sure your retailers are informed in advance and are able to make the same offer.

You may have SLOBs (slow turning or obsolete products) in the warehouse that are tying up valuable capital.  It is far better for you and your retailers to sell those goods in an orderly fashion rather than dump them via an inventory liquidator or favored retailer. Brands have typically moved SLOBs by choosing one or two retailers to buy the lot at fire sale prices. The retailers in turn promote the products at deep discounts. While that tactic worked when retail was strictly local B&M, it makes less sense in the internet age. Now one retailer has a win and everyone else loses. The brand makes low to no margin and ticks off the rest of its channel partners who could not compete with the closeout price. Double whammy.   

A good low risk way to move SLOBs and get your toes wet in e-commerce is to begin direct-selling your B-stock, open box and refurbished products. You can put the store on your site, or make the product offers available only to your friends and family though an email program, or, as many have done, open an EBay store. Most agree that the EBay customer is by nature a bargain hunter who will never pay retail so there is little risk of one of your retailers losing a full price sale.

The marketplace has changed - the Internet and ecommerce are not fads and the genie is not going back into the bottle. We think that it is inevitable and necessary for brands to have a means of selling direct to consumers to some extent – not as a replacement for B&M and online retailers, but as an adjunct. You might as well jump in now at least for the learning experience.

There are other elements to successful, low channel-stress, direct to consumer sales that we would be happy to share with any brand marketer who would like to take the plunge. Contact us to discuss. 

About CE-Marketing Pros
We’re a full service marketing/advertising agency specializing in helping consumer electronics brands and retailers compete more effectively. Former marketing executives with two of the most successful CE brands, Al Ballard and Paul DiComo help brands STAND OUT in a crowded and confusing CE marketplace. 

WE KNOW CE.

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