The direct-to-consumer business model explained

In previous articles, we have seen why businesses need to work within certain models depending on what they offer to the market. Identifying exactly how your company makes money gives you the edge where, as an entrepreneur, you know which opportunities to pursue and which ones not to waste your resources on. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model and its pros and cons.

As the name suggests, transactions in the DTC model are between the company and the end user, i.e., unlike the traditional retail business model, there is no intermediary such as a wholesaler. this Types of business models Online business is primarily where you make your sales products through e-commerce.

Let’s look at the DTC business model in more detail.

What is a direct-to-consumer business model?

Direct to consumer business model

Online trading is not limited to the DTC model where you can decide to sell your products from a third party platform. However, selling from your own website allows you to maintain control over how your brand is expressed and achieve brand consistency. Therefore, it It’s worth investing in a professional who will ensure that you not only have an attractive and engaging sales platform but that it’s also user-friendly.

Another unique feature of this model is that you can customize how you offer or introduce your products To secure more sales. For example, if you have an online skin care store, you can have a quiz to determine what skin type the user has and recommend products accordingly.

Within the DTC framework, the business is in charge of service delivery that requires a significant amount of follow-through after the sale. The business will be responsible for preparing, shipping and delivering the product smoothly and on time.

Furthermore, since this business model is customer-centric, optimizing the user experience depends on whether they can respond, and your ability to respond and adapt if there is enough demand to do so. Allowing feedback also presents opportunities for diversification where you can pick up on unmet needs and, in turn, expand your product offering. It gives you the ability to co-create customers where you, on the other hand, can test the market on the existing customer base.

How does this business model make money?

The DTC business model retains revenue from not paying outside suppliers, such as third-party online retailers, or wholesalers for bulk purchases. This allows the DTC business owner to sell products at a lower cost, creating a budget for marketing.

Another way DTC businesses make money is through subscriptions where, for a monthly or annual fee, regular customers become members and receive additional benefits, such as discounted items. Subscription boxes are an example of this where members get a small selection of products to try which drives future sales.

The digital retail space gives business owners access to vendor data, such as their demographics and buying habits. These insights allow companies to customize their service offerings and charge more for their products and services as a result.

Using search engine optimization (SEO) tools increases a company’s chances for online retail sales. SEO tools work by using specific keywords in your website content which increases the discoverability of the business.

Business owners can also earn from notification systems where users of your platform can sign up to receive information about sales via email with embedded links.

Building a sustainable DTC business

The success of this business model depends on creating an authentic experience for the end user in how they come to know your brand.

Creating an authentic experience for consumers occurs when a company organizationally builds a product (or service) based on what is important to consumers. If businesses are successful, they will attract customers who can relate to the company’s values.

Alternatively, you can create experiences for your target audience where entrepreneurs find a need in the market and create a product that fills that need. For example, maybe you started a sustainable clothing store because you wanted to do something about the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment.

Another example is that you have established a health food online store and one of the main requests you get is to offer meal kits. These kits allow you to expand your service offering based on customer needs.

Examples of Direct-to-Consumer Business Models

The three categories to consider are:

Products and Services

An example of the DTC model is Dollar Shave Club, which offers monthly subscriptions based on the information you provide; Then they will create packages with quality products. Another subscription-type DTC business is JustFab, a fashion ecommerce site. It offers a personalized shopping experience where they curate looks that match your style preferences.

product only

BarkBox offers members monthly boxes with a variety of themed toys and treats for their pets. They entice customers to join by offering double the number of items you would get in any other month when you first sign up with them. Another way to retain BarkBox members is to ask them for feedback on the equipment their dog(s) prefer. This way, Barkbox can customize future orders accordingly.

Service only

DoorDash is a popular food-delivery service that will deliver food of your choice from a variety of restaurants to your doorstep. DoorDash also offers a monthly subscription that allows users to bypass the fees associated with each order. Similarly, FreshDirect offers customers the convenience of having their groceries delivered to them.

Another example of a DTC business is online training. Users can subscribe to virtual courses without visiting a university or school. LinkedIn is a good example of this, as they offer paid members a wide variety of courses in a wide range of fields and skills.

Potential challenges

Due to the exclusion of third parties, the DTC business model requires orders to be fulfilled internally. They must handle activities that companies based on the retail model would typically outsource, such as cybersecurity, warehousing, coordinating shipping, handling returns, and customer service. Because of this, you may have to have more sections, which involves higher labor costs.

Another challenge with this model is that there is high competition where there are many companies offering the same product or service as you. Differentiating yourself from the rest requires innovative thinking, significant marketing efforts and professional customer engagement.


In short, the DTC business model is based on a transaction between the company and the customer where the revenue from the sale is kept higher due to exclusions. “The man in the middle.” We also found that, at its core, most of this web-based trading relies on tailoring your offering to individual expectations to enhance the user experience and, in turn, ensure repeat customers.

This strategy, together with efficient service and ensuring how a product is received, will position you to differentiate yourself from competitors. To know more about different types of business models, read our article 21 different types of business models with examples.

Marie Francois Robinson on LinkedIn
Marie Francois Robinson

Staff Writer: Marie Francois is a writer with a strong foothold in the adult learning space. His focus is creating valuable content based on his experience in business development. She draws inspiration from Maya Angelou’s wise words, ‘When you learn, teach. When you grow up, give.’

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Article Tags:

Business Models · Business Opportunities · Featured · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Sales

Article Category:

Business Models · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Product Development · Sales

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