The Direct-to-Retail approach – how leading brands run wholesale ecommerce

Thanks to new technology, leading brands are now embracing a “direct-to-retail” strategy for their wholesale business: serving their global wholesale accounts digitally through private wholesale showrooms.

Max Brennan
Max Brennan

6 minutes

The reality of being a brand has changed dramatically in recent years. With the help of new technology from Centra, brands have been able to re‑imagine the sales process. Driving global sales directly to consumers through their own digital channels has opened up a new world of opportunities – as well as a solid new revenue stream. The Direct‑to‑Consumer model allows brands to stay in complete control of their brand experience and avoid giving away valuable data while maintaining high margins. All powered by modern technology and digital marketing strategies that nurture followership and convert loyal consumers into sales.

Despite the many opportunities of Direct‑to‑Consumer, wholesale still remains to be a major part of the business of fashion and won’t be going away anytime soon. Wholesale can be an excellent marketing channel, boost volumes to create economies of scale, and reduce risk by enabling selling on preorder. 

However, thanks to new technology, leading brands are now embracing a “direct‑to‑retail” strategy for their wholesale business: serving their global wholesale accounts digitally through private wholesale showrooms on Centra’s flexible and powerful technology. The same principles that apply to the Direct‑to‑Consumer strategy, are now also applied for selling wholesale – although of course slightly differently. 

Here are three key principles for how brands use Centra’s leading wholesale e‑commerce technology for a “Direct‑to‑Retail” approach: 

1. Owning the full brand experience

Through a private digital Showroom, Showroom by Centra, brands are now protecting their brand equity by tailoring a digital wholesale experience that truly represents their brand. Wholesale buyers are emotional beings, just like consumers. Therefore, leading brands are keeping the transactional showroom private and beautifully tailored to appeal to the pathos of buyers – applying content marketing and storytelling, while being completely free of any third‑party logos or branding. By doing so, brands control the full narrative of the story, and offer their buyers an efficient, on‑brand experience that they want to come back to time after time. Brands may in some cases collaborate with agents or even distributors – but all valuable data and buyer insights are owned by the brand and not by any third party. 

2. Applying Direct‑to‑Retail marketing strategies

Selling wholesale was in recent history an analog process where sales reps were hauling sample collections across the world – taking orders through emails, on paper, or using a fax machine (yes: we actually came across that recently). Those days are however diminishing by the day. Applying modern digital marketing methods, pioneered in DTC e‑commerce, and new technology, enables brands to sell efficiently to wholesale accounts globally, without losing control. 

Leading brands now showcase collections on digital, non‑transactional wholesale marketplaces to generate interest and drive traffic. They are shifting their game by investing in data‑driven and creative digital marketing. The skills developed in the brand’s DTC department are being used for wholesale. Through e‑mail- and other digital marketing methods, these teams are able to nurture buyers with frequent, targeted (and re‑targeted), and personalized campaigns that drive up sales and conversion in wholesale. The very essence of the strategy is the direct ownership of the relationship with the wholesale buyer – without any agents, distributors, or B2B marketplace middle‑men. This is what we at Centra call the Direct‑to‑Retail approach.

3. Nurturing relationships with key accounts

Although leading brands have re‑imagined the composition of a traditional wholesale team – the sales rep still remains important. “Direct‑to‑retail” wholesale e‑commerce does not equal “Direct‑to‑consumer” e‑commerce. In the new era of wholesale e‑commerce, sales reps are spending less time on admin and travel to instead focus on nurturing and building strong day‑to‑day relationships with key accounts. By doing so, brands are able to increase upsell conversions while maintaining loyal relationships with their buyers. At the same time, they are improving their environmental footprint by avoiding unnecessary travel by car and air. 

To find out more about “Direct‑to‑Retail” strategies and/or Centra as a company please visit


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