Which sales channels are U.S. manufacturers using for initial sales?
While there is no preexisting information to fully answer your question, we've used the available data to pull together key findings: The manufacturers Lillian Vernon, L.L. Bean, Harriet Carter and Archie McPhee use mail-order catalog as their exclusive DTC sales channel, which are also applicable for initial sales. US manufacturers' direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels include physical stores, eCommerce, and non-physical store channels such as telephone and mail-order catalog.
Below you'll find an outline of our research methodology to better understand why the information you've requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into our findings.
To complete your request, I researched US manufacturers using direct-to-consumer channels for initial sales and to acquire new buyers. I did not include distributors, wholesalers, or retailers procuring products from manufacturers. I researched industry analysis, rankings, and reports as well as trusted media articles. Though I found a list of manufacturers using a DTC channel exclusively for sales including initial sales, I did not find any helpful distinction for manufacturers using omnichannel for DTC sales.
However, I found that major manufacturers are using and investing in DTC channels in recent years. Please see below results of my research.
Forbes reported that the number of US manufacturers choosing to sell directly to consumers was expected to grow to over 40% of all manufacturers in 2016. Also, more than 33% of surveyed consumers said they bought directly from a manufacturer's website in 2015. The article did not distinguish between initial and repeat sales.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels today are categorized into two broad categories: physical stores and online. However, there are also non-store DTC channels such as telephone and mail-order catalogs.
While some manufacturers use non-store channels as an optional DTC strategy, BizFluent identified several manufacturers that use non-store mail-order catalog as their exclusive sales channel. This means that the following companies also reach their new buyers through the DTC channel mail-order catalog.
These are Lillian Vernon (gifts and knickknacks), L.L. Bean (outdoor apparel and gear), Harriet Carter (novelty items) and Archie McPhee (novelty items).
While I did not find a list of manufacturers using telemarketing or DTC telephone marketing, I found that the Internet Retailer predicted that DTC online and non-store sales including mail-order catalogs and telephone sales will grow 8% to 12% in 2017 in the US.
DTC PHYSICAL stores
Brick-and-mortar stores are a primary direct-to-consumer channel. Manufacturers whose revenue and investment in physical DTC stores have grown in recent years include Nike, Under Armour and REI. However, I found no distinction for new or repeat customers being reached through the companies' DTC channels.
In 2016, Market Realist reported that Nike has expanded its store count by 73 at the end of 2015. Along with sales from its DTC online channels, Nike's physical store sales has grown in the previous years and has been a major contributor to its revenue. Market Realist reported that 24% of Nike's revenue came from its DTC channel sales in the first half of 2016.
UnderArmour also reported that it has increased the number of its physical DTC stores by 25 stores year-over-year, reaching 160 stores in mid-2015.
REI, an outdoor specialty retailer manufacturer, also sells direct-to-consumer through its stores. In 2016, Bicycle Retailer reported that REI's store sales including DTC sales grew by 7% while its online sales grew by 23%.
Plausibly, new customers as well as repeat buyers are being reached through the companies' DTC channels.
Online and eCommerce websites are also a major direct-to-consumer channel used by manufacturers. Under Armour, Timberland and Victoria's Secret have reported increased revenue from DTC channels, though with no distinction for new customers and initial sales.
Under Armour reported that it launched new eCommerce websites in international territories including Thailand, Belgium, Ireland, Austria and Portugal in 2015. The company also reported strong DTC ecommerce sales along with its physical DTC store sales.
Victoria's Secret reported that its DTC revenue from eCommerce grew 8% in 2016. The beauty products manufacturer also reported that its DTC sales made up 21.3% of its overall revenue.
In 2016, Digiday reported that footwear manufacturer Timberland launched its first digitally connected store, which merges online and offline DTC shopping. Customers can either purchase in-store or save Timberland items they want to buy online later through CloudTags technology. Forbes also reported that other manufacturers such as Nike and L'Oreal are using "portable eCommerce" tools such as digital media networks and in-store beacons to drive DTC sales.
In spite of the lack of information whether eCommerce DTC channels are being used primarily to reach new customers, it is plausible that more new customers are being reached through eCommerce DTC due to its wider range and reach.
Despite the lack of publicly available information around direct-to-consumer channels used to reach new customers, we used available information to pull together the following findings: the manufacturers Lillian Vernon, L.L. Bean, Harriet Carter and Archie McPhee use DTC mail-order catalog exclusively for sales, which are also applicable for initial sales. US manufacturers' direct-to-consumer channels include physical stores, eCommerce websites and non-store channels such as telephone and mail-order catalog. DTC eCommerce websites plausibly reach more new customers due to their wider range and reach.