There are many reasons to rely on intermediaries to get products from factories to consumers. But for a few innovative providers, today’s marketplaces provide an ideal setting for eliminating those intermediaries and streamlining the process. In particular, companies such as Browze and Quinze claim that they can get products to consumers faster, cheaper, and more consistently than conventional supply chains. A key factor leading to this promise is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has complicated and stymied many supply chains. The new generation of factory-to-consumer providers rely on airmail shipping, with its relative speed and consistent costs, rather than sea freight, which tends to be slower and has been subjected to massively increasing costs. The direct shipping also reduces the amount of inventory in the supply chain. But along with these efficiency and cost considerations, the companies are determined to offer better customer service than traditionally has been available from manufacturers. For example, Browze applies stringent quality control reviews and allows for free returns. It also hosts a 24/7 customer support chat line and a self-service experience platform online. Even as these companies display the promise of the streamlined product distribution plan though, some others struggle, with consumers complaining that when they receive shipments directly from the factory, they often contain poorly constructed or incorrect merchandise, with few options for returning the items. Thus, even if a supply chain consists of fewer actors, it appears that consumers still demand the same value and services they would from an extended, multiparty chain.
Source: Matthew Stern, “Can a Factory-to-Consumer Experience Be a Quality One?” Retail Wire, December 30, 2021