The physical market and the virtual market in consumer durables


We often hear terms like Digital Strategy, Omnichannelality and Digital Product Distribution. But how do the dynamics between online and offline distribution change in consumer durables? Let's try to explore it with some suggestions.


In physical distribution, there is a more or less direct partnership between the producer and the distributor, who in turn, on the various scales, can count on a network of shops/dealers for the distribution of the product


In online distribution, these partnerships are much more "liquid" and the relationships established are much more fragmented, quicker and less manageable than in offline distribution


Some evidence

In online distribution, the distribution partner (such as Amazon) invests in the same marketing channels as the manufacturer would invest in directly




In online distribution, the perception of the consumer (and the relative loyalty) is changing in favour of a liquidity that rewards those who are more competitive and "faster".



In online distribution today, it is essential to study a digital-appropriate strategy to avoid inefficient and harmful investments


Indeed this may seem like a universal consideration, but believe me when I say that too many people approach the digital issue superficially or worse as a commodity, and in fact less and less so:

  • What are my goals? (brand awareness, online sales, etc.)
  • Can I sustain an integrated approach? (don't do marketing plan in pieces but keep all-round vision)
  • What are the online distribution trends in my market? (how I, my competitors deal with the topic)



Tackling the digital marketplace without a well-defined strategy governed by the company's board can be inefficient, if not downright scattershot because the strategy changes according to the needs and the digital market today is crowded with national and international competitors.




Some approaches

What follows are some suggestions linked to concrete and heterogeneous cases. Far from being a definitive guide on such a complex and ever-changing topic, it can nevertheless provide some interesting hints to start navigating the subject with more confidence.


1. Strategy exclusively related to e-b2b1

Company example: Italian SME selling internationally

OBJECTIVE: to enter the online market without building and governing direct channels (e.g. e-commerce / proprietary platform etc.), investing instead in the e-b2b channel (advertising, logistics, performance monitoring, promotions)

SOLUTION: develop a plan where you outsource your digital processes as much as possible (turning to external providers like Amazon)

CRITICALITY: digital presence is less directional for the company as it is largely managed by online business partners. Indeed, e-b2b can create a very strong relationship with the end customer based on the data collected, leaving the manufacturer with less visibility and governance over the customer. Secondly, in power, a physical distributor could position itself on the same e-b2b channel as the manufacturer and buy advertising, as there are no barriers to entry.



2. Hybrid b2b - b2c strategy2

Example company: Well-known fashion house that operates internationally (good awareness and strong physical distribution, aiming at omnichanneling where there is a marked physical presence (retailer) and a digital presence still to be strengthened, if not defined).

OBJECTIVE: Develop a digital plan to increase/develop digital presence as on the physical

SOLUTION: set up a complete 360° plan where direct investments in directly managed channels are contemplated (e.g. website, e-commerce, social etc.) + external ones such as e-b2b (e.g. yoox, zalando etc.)

CRITICALITY: it is a very complex case because it contains all the difficulties of digital projects (strategic, technological, communication, marketing) if not properly built, governed and managed over time, it generates dispersion and the failure to achieve the objectives.



3. Strategy exclusively related to b2c3

Example company: (of) innovative product with strong international propensity. This is the case of innovative startup models for a market all to be built and expanded.

OBJECTIVE: to develop a complete digital presence for the promotion of a product that does not exist in the marketplace.

SOLUTION: set up a complete 360° plan where direct investments in directly managed channels are contemplated (e.g. website, e-commerce, social etc.) + scale up potential consumers of the product through a "continuous improvement" approach

CRITICALITY: this is a very complex case because, in addition to containing all the difficulties of digital projects (strategic, technological, communication, marketing), it is aimed at an audience that "does not exist", that does not know the product or want it.


If you liked this article, then you'll appreciate Quodigi's support: we provide consulting and advisory services on web strategy and digital transformation. We have developed IO, the web intelligence platform designed for business decision makers. Learn more about what we do to support your company in its digital growth!

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Simone Mastrogiacomo
Simone Mastrogiacomo
Digital native and startupper by nature. After creating my first website well before I came of age, I participated in 50+ digital projects in various industries and scales. I contributed to the achievement of results in terms of audience reached and turnover before during and after my studies at the Polytechnic of Milan, where I graduated in Architecture with the thesis "Digital Architect - Professional perspectives between architecture and web at the time of dematerialization". At the age of 29, together with other young entrepreneurs, I founded Quodigi, a digital consulting company whose goal is to contribute to the development and innovation of the Italian entrepreneurial fabric through the integration of skills.
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