Direct-to-consumer brand Q Acoustic facilitates global online sales

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Q Acoustics is a U.K.-based manufacturer of high-end audio equipment that has been successful in selling its products worldwide but until recently lacked the ability to sell online in the United States. “For years, we struggled to find a way to sell our products in the U.S. with the same great value proposition that we offer in the rest of the world,” says Jonathan Bennett, marketing director.

“We’d heard about Ally’s reputation for exceptional customer service, which is a must when you’re building an online direct-to-consumer business.”

Established in 2006, Q Acoustics prides itself on the fact that it was founded by acoustics experts. Its focus is on the quality of sound and its speaker designs, something it wanted to convey to potential customers on its website.

But the company needed more than just help setting up a website. It needed a partner to handle all aspects of customer service, payment and sales. Its need for help is typical of a lot of product manufacturers that want to sell online, says Dave Kart, vice president of marketing for Ally Commerce.

“We partner with a number of brand manufacturers that previously could only sell through retailers,” Kart says. “These companies want to either improve their direct-to-consumer online sales or start to sell directly.”

INVENTORY REPORTING

“Ally’s proposition enables us to enjoy the best of all of the leading marketplaces in the U.S. while building our direct sales on QAcoustics.com,” Bennett says. “That enables us to understand more about our end consumers and offer them exciting new products and great deals.”

Ally offers technology that supports back-end operations, including dealing with local and state taxes as well as inventory reporting. “One of the big challenges when starting from scratch in a new country is that consumer demand can jump dramatically with positive press coverage and consumer reviews,” Bennett says. Having a partner that can handle those spikes in demand was a big plus.

Working through Ally, manufacturers like Q Acoustics can sell through Amazon, eBay or other consolidated sites but also see the benefit from having their own direct sales site as well.

Among new features that Ally has added to Q Acoustics’ online sales presence is an accessories up-sell feature that suggests suitable cables and speaker brackets or stands. Not only does Q Acoustics gain a sales tool, accessories arrive at the same time as the speakers. Often in the past, customers would order a speaker, only to find out later that certain accessories were needed and have to wait for the latter order to arrive.

MAINTAINING BRAND VALUE

Kart says the best fit for Ally are brand manufacturers that sell a few items at a higher price per item. “We help them overcome the big challenge associated with unit economics,” he says. “The higher-priced the goods, the better value we can offer them.”

Ally can handle fulfillment responsibilities or let manufacturers provide fulfillment if they have the capability, and helps manufacturers deal with selling via multi-channels, which allows them to operate their own websites as well as selling through Amazon or eBay. It also offers the ability to sell via mobile devices.

“Some manufacturers work directly with Amazon to sell their goods,” Kart says. “But then Amazon has all the control. Amazon controls the pricing and has the relationship with the consumer. This has the potential to erode the manufacturer’s brand value.”

Working through Ally, manufacturers like Q Acoustics can sell through Amazon, eBay or other consolidated sites but also see the benefit from having their own direct sales site as well.

“We help them set up their own store where they can access customers. They control the product and how they want to price their products. Then if they want to sell on Amazon as well, they can,” Kart says.

Ally takes care of payment, including integrating with the payment programs provided through Amazon or PayPal. It also offers consumer financing options for manufacturers with high-priced items and provides fraud protection, including taking responsibility for credit card security requirements.

“The marketing is changing around us, and there are more payment options availabile today,” Kart says. “We work with the manufacturers to take advantage of more payment options.”

Included in the services is help with setting up search optimization; Kart says most manufacturers don’t have search expertise and can benefit from guidance.

Lauri Giesen is a Libertyville, Ill.-based business writer with extensive experience in covering payment and finance issues.

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