Navigating the D2C to Retail Journey

In the ever-evolving landscape of commerce, the shift from Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) to traditional retail channels presents both challenges and opportunities for brands. A recent CMO & Marketing Director Forum Zoom call on ‘D2C to Retail’ highlighted several key insights and strategies for businesses navigating this transition successfully.

1. Be Prepared for Margin Pressures: One of the first points emphasized in the discussion was the inevitable margin pressure of transitioning to retail. Compared to D2C, retail typically drives down margins, requiring businesses to adjust their strategies accordingly.


2. Be Hot and Disruptive: To stand out in the retail space, brands must disrupt the market and become the go-to opinion for retailers in their category. Proactively offering innovative solutions can position a brand as a valuable retailer partner.


3. Reach Customers Everywhere: In today’s omnichannel retail environment, brands must meet customers wherever they are. This means having an online presence through D2C and physical retail locations.


4. Patience and Persistence: Despite the challenges faced by both D2C and retail in recent times, there are still opportunities for brands to make significant inroads. Patience and obsession with the rate of sale are essential for success in this journey.


5. Minimize Cannibalization: When expanding into retail, ensuring that the D2C experience remains exceptional for customers is crucial. By minimizing cannibalization and offering unique value propositions, brands can maintain customer loyalty across channels.


6. Collaboration Over Competition: Teams operating in D2C and retail should view themselves as complementary rather than competitive. Collaboration between teams, including buyers and brand representatives, is critical to maximizing success in both channels.


7. Stay Agile: The retail landscape is dynamic, with buyers frequently changing categories and employers. Brands must stay agile and adapt to these changes, even when faced with last-minute shifts or challenges.


8. Strategic Hiring: When expanding into retail, the first ideal hire should be someone with experience working with national retailers, ideally at a director level. This individual can spearhead the transition and build a team capable of scaling the business effectively.


9. Absorb Within Current Team: Initially, launching into retail may not require an additional team. Brands can absorb retail responsibilities within their current team structure and gradually scale as needed.


10. Budget Optimization: With limited budgets, brands must attach themselves to relevant moments and drive customers to their in-store locations. Creative marketing strategies can maximize the impact of limited resources.


Transitioning from D2C to retail requires careful planning, persistence, and collaboration. By embracing these insights and strategies, brands can successfully navigate this journey and unlock new opportunities for growth in the retail space.


I thank Shelley Macintyre (GM & CMO at allplants), Sophie Sheach (Growth Director at Pact Coffee), and Franky Athill (Fractional CMO) for contributing to this article. 


Acquire Digital Talent believes in empowering Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands to establish genuine connections with their audience. 


We achieve this by leveraging top-tier marketing talent, carefully curated through our unwavering commitment to networking and talent scouting within the expansive consumer space across the US & UK. 


Through our specialized recruitment and search services, we facilitate the connection between D2C and consumer brands and visionary marketing leaders, enabling them to drive innovation, foster growth, and leave a lasting impact on their respective industries.


If you’d like to discuss an upcoming search assignment, please book a call with Alex Marriner