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Going DTC while keeping your retailers happy

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

It’s no secret that clothing brands are constantly looking for ways to increase sales and cut costs. In recent years, many brands have turned to selling directly to consumers (DTC) through their own websites and apps, foregoing the need for middlemen like retailers and wholesalers. The trend has disrupted the retail industry, with some big-name retailers filing for bankruptcy or closing stores.

You've doubtless heard the phrase, "It's a zero sum game," which is often used to describe competitive situations in which one player's gain is another player's loss but selling your brand directly to consumers can be a win-win for both you and your stockists.

Market growth is not a zero sum game when going DTC.

When brands and retailers work together to grow the market, they all benefit.

The power of having a clothing brand visible both online and in-store is likely to have an overall positive impact on brand awareness and thus start driving more sales.

While a brand's DTC website might gain 5% market share and a retailer may lose 5% market share to those buying directly online. If a collective marketing campaign is done right, it can have a net increase in the market size for both companies, and even increase sales for a brick and mortar store.

In order to grow the market for that brand, companies can collaborate by sharing data, developing joint marketing plans, and working together to promote the category the brand sits in as a whole.

Brands can support their retailers by offering limited edition stock, competitions, marketing collateral, training, offering incentives and supporting in-store sales, to help build a win-win strategy.

The power of having a clothing brand visible both online and in-store is likely to have an overall positive impact on brand awareness and thus drive more sales.

Having a storefront also allows customers to touch, feel and try on the clothes before making a purchase, which can be especially important for garments like jeans, shoes and eyewear.

Let’s take the example of Bonds, the sought after clothing brand here in Australia. They have built a faithful online community who receive discounted clothing and free shipping. Despite this, they are still stocked in department stores and supermarkets across the country and are now gaining retailers abroad.

Bonds understand the different user journeys to their products. Die hard fans are more than likely to buy online and receive their perks; while those wanting a practical solution to a problem (i.e. need new socks) are more likely to buy in-store.

It's important to remember that a combination of both online and in-store sales can be the most successful approach. Having a strong online presence can help drive traffic to your store, and vice versa. By working together, brands and retailers can grow the market and benefit all parties involved.

Ultimately your strategy for selling online or in-store is dependent on how strong brand awareness is, your brand positioning and the behaviour of your target consumers.

So we recommend doing your research and developing a strategy that will work specifically for your brand.

If you are wanting to start weighing up if selling direct to consumer is right for your brand.

Get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you launch your strategy.

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