Direct to Consumer (D2C) Business Model – How Does It Work?

What is the Direct to Consumer (D2C) business model?

The Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) business model is a model that allows companies to sell directly to their consumers. Traditionally, companies would sell their products to a wholesaler, who would then sell them to a retailer, and in the end, it would reach the consumer.

This process took a long time, and there were several bottlenecks in the process. The D2C business model tackles those problems for a much efficient supply chain.

The reason for the popularity of the D2C business model is the creation of online platforms and websites that allow companies to reach and interact with their consumers directly.

The reliance on the traditional methods of reaching out to customers has reduced severely due to this business model. Customers can buy from their favourite brand, skipping any intermediaries in the process.

The D2C business model is different from the B2C business model. While both the business models believe in reaching out to customers directly and interacting with them, there is a slight difference between them.

In the D2C business model, the manufacturer uses the model to reach its consumers without intermediaries involved. In the B2C business model, retailers buy from manufacturers and, then, directly interact with consumers.

How does Direct to Consumer (D2C) business model work?

The Direct-to-Consumer business model works in a straightforward manner. Manufacturers of a product use various platforms, usually their websites, to sell their products directly to their consumers.

In the process, they don’t involve intermediaries such as wholesalers or retailers, significantly reducing the time it takes for the sale cycle to complete.

The Direct-to-Consumer business model has several characteristics. Usually, the barriers to entry are low in the industry, and there are flexible capital requirements.

Companies using this model are passionate about their customers, allowing for better intractability and customer satisfaction. These companies have experience harnessing first-party data and analytics as well.

Companies that use this model cut out the intermediaries in the process and ship to their consumers directly. These companies believe in communicating with consumers, usually through the use of various platforms or software.

They may also have more flexible pricing than traditional retailers. These companies make use of digital marketing to get through to customers.

D2C companies rely heavily on the internet traffic to make their sales. As mentioned, they direct their marketing towards digital spaces. Some D2C business models may also employ a subscription-based model to create a consistent revenue stream.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Direct to Consumer (D2C) business model?

The Direct-to-Consumer business model has several advantages and disadvantages, some of which are as below.

1) Advantages

Companies using the D2C business model have higher control over their margins. It is because they don’t involve any other parties, or intermediaries, in the process. In traditional business models, the more intermediaries that come into play, the more the manufacturer loses control over the price and margins of the product.

This business model also allows companies to target a more specific consumer base. Similarly, they can interact with their consumers directly and analyze their needs. As mentioned, one of the characteristics of the model is better customer relationships, which allow companies to cater to their consumers directly.

The D2C business model also comes with a higher degree of personalization in the product range. It mainly comes because companies get to analyze their customer needs directly.

Their consumers don’t interact with any third-parties either. Instead, they deal with the manufacturer of the product, allowing for a mutually beneficial relationship to exist.

For the company using the business model, the D2C business model also allows manufacturers to maximize their profits. As mentioned, they don’t need to divide their earnings with intermediaries, giving them more control over their pricing and profits.

2) Disadvantages

As mentioned, one of the characteristics of the D2C business model is the low barriers of entry in the industry. It means that any company or business may enter the industry without much investment or expertise. That makes the D2C business model susceptible to the threat of competition.

D2C companies also have to work harder on their marketing and promotions. It is a disadvantage these companies face due to cutting the intermediaries that allow companies to receive higher exposure. Similarly, it may come with extra costs, usually those that retailers or wholesalers bear in other models.


Some examples of businesses that have adopted the Direct-to-Consumer business model include Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Casper, Harry’s, IBM, and Apple. These are some companies that have opted to cut out the intermediaries from their sales cycle and interact with consumers directly.


The Direct-to-Consumer business model allows companies to reach out to their consumers directly without the need for intermediaries. It allows for much better control over the sales process while also increasing customer satisfaction. There are several advantages and disadvantages to the business model, as stated above.

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