Direct 2 Manufacturer (D2M), a company that helps facilitate dealer-direct sales, signed up several vendors during this past weekend’s Dealer Expo, bringing its total vendor count to about 60.
Two former Tucker Rocky executives, Tim Pritchard and Del Munoz, founded D2M in late 2010. Josh Whitaker, a former T.R. exec and former KTM and Red Bull marketing manager, soon became a third partner in charge of marketing.
At last year’s Dealer Expo, several D2M vendors — then totaling fewer than 20 — displayed the company’s logo at their booths. This year D2M also had a booth. Dealernews sat down with Whitaker during the show for clarification about what the company does.
“Everybody is trying to compare our business model to what exists today,” he said, “and you have a hard time doing that. Really D2M is a service provider helping manufacturers with sales, marketing and logistics.”
The business model in brief: D2M has partnered with about 35 independent sales reps who market the company’s brands to dealers throughout the country. These reps, as well as the manufacturers and dealers, have access to an online ordering system built by D2M. Finally, the company operates warehouses in Fort Worth, Texas, and coordinates warehousing with several manufacturers across the country that have space for vendors desiring help with fulfillment.
So D2M’s three main services are sales reps, a b2b platform and fulfillment. Vendors can choose any combination thereof, and also opt for other supporting services. The fees they pay to D2M are based on a percentage of sales. There are no contracts, no start-up costs. “The only thing we need to get a vendor started is images, part numbers, descriptions and a price book,” Whitaker said.
D2M enters the product data into the b2b system in a transparent manner. The vendors themselves can log on to the back end to change images, descriptions, part numbers, pricing. They also can add images, catalog pages and even product videos and training videos. They can see what’s selling and view reports on things like number of dealer customers and their locations.
Dealers and sales reps, on the other hand, use the password-protected site at www.d2m-orders.com to order products and look up prices — made even easier by the site’s compatibility with mobile devices. Dealers can view whether products have shipped, along with freight costs and tracking numbers. They also encounter things often found on consumer sites, like product reviews and recommendations of compatible products.
D2M’s major attraction to dealers, Whitaker said, is that it allows them to order from many dealer-direct companies using just one system. “I’m trying to consolidate an area for all these great brands to sell direct in the same way that the dealer has been trained to work with the big distributors.”
This “nice open platform,” Whitaker added, was "developed in-house by tenured developers who have built incredibly complex things for giant companies in much larger industries.”
To provide a more centralized location for their staff, the three partners last year moved company headquarters from the Fort Worth warehouse (which still operates) to a 6,000 sq. ft. building in Southlake, which is just a few minutes away from the DFW airport.
D2M promises its vendors lower costs and higher margins. Last fall the company added one of its biggest clients: Scorpion Sports, the helmets of which will continue to be distributed also through Tucker Rocky.
Indeed, vendors need not drop their distributors to sign up with D2M. “I don’t tell manufacturers they can’t be distributed,” Whitaker said. “Our goal is to work with brands that are either nondistributed or even distributed brands that want to go direct [also]. They want to know who their customer is. They want to learn and work directly with the channel.”
D2M is accepting all products into its online ordering system, whether or not a competing product already exists there. “But what we won’t do," Whitaker said, "is give a sales rep a bunch of competing brands to go sell. The reps' concern, like ours, is having too many brands and not having the knowledge and time to focus on properly representing them."
Some competition, Whitaker admitted, may creep in due to the independent sales reps’ freedom to sell whatever they want outside of D2M. But he believes the combination of a competitive website marketplace with a more narrowly focused sales force will strike a healthy balance. “It’s a give-and-take for the better of the whole,” he said.
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