Direct-to-consumer sales has become a big focus for many manufacturers, and we want to do all we can to help. In a recent post, we promised to help guide manufacturers making the transition to D2C marketplace selling.

If all signs indicate now’s the time to start selling direct-to-consumers on marketplaces, it can be tempting to launch forward at full speed ahead.

Our suggestion? Proceed with cautious optimism.

Before you start selecting channels and developing pricing strategies, it’s essential to lay the groundwork. It’s not uncommon for a manufacturing brand to dive headfirst into D2C marketplace sales, only to discover later that the company missed a critical step in the process.

To avoid a similar fate, there are two foundational elements to address first.

First, get internal buy-in

As a manufacturer accustomed to first-party and wholesale relationships, you’ve no doubt spent years negotiating with big box retailers and meeting supply-chain demands.

Once you begin selling direct to consumers, the demands will be very different. Your employees will have a much different set of needs to meet and consumer behaviors to monitor. Job roles will change, departments may expand and the company at large will likely go through many internal transformations.

For this reason, it’s important to focus first on getting buy-in from your various business units. Your customer service, legal, logistics, sales, marketing, product, finance and human resources teams will all play important roles. If even one department decides it’s not on board or is unwilling to expand to accomodate direct-to-consumer marketplace selling, the entire initiative will be hindered.

Next, address external partners

Once the various members of your internal team are on board with the decision, it’s time to address relationships with retailers.

Selling direct-to-consumers on e-commerce marketplaces requires a high degree of sensitivity to your partners. After all, you’re about to be their competition. And this is not a factor to take lightly. While you need to do what’s best for your brand, you also don’t want channel partners to think you’re trying to “go around” them or don’t care about the relationships.

Take the time to consider retailers’ potential fears, and to craft a message that balances this understanding with the added value you’ll bring to the market. Communicate what your goals are moving forward and how they’ll define your relationships within the context your new business model.

Next steps for a successful transition

While these aren’t the only hurdles you’ll face, they’re two of the most important. We can’t stress the importance of these issues enough: If you want to be successful at D2C marketplace selling, you MUST make internal teams and retail partners a top priority from the outset.

Once you’ve addressed these two crucial steps, then you can begin to select inventory, decide how you’ll engage with customers and take steps to optimize fulfillment.

We go into much greater detail on each of these areas in our free eBook: The Manufacturer’s Guide to Marketplace Selling. Our e-commerce experts have packed this guide full of best practices and industry insights based on Rithum’s experiences with more than 2,800 sellers across 100+ marketplaces. Whether you’re just beginning to consider D2C sales or are already in the midst of launching third-party marketplace seller accounts, I highly recommend giving it a read.