The production, marketing, and sale of digital assets, better known as dCommerce, is changing the way businesses build audiences and increase revenue. With dCommerce, you create something that people want to buy, you sell it but you still retain the product. Then, you sell it again.
This isn’t magic, it’s dCommerce … digital commerce. Best of all, dCommerce doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition and can be added to any business model from B2B manufacturing to eCommerce.
Even though Google still tries to correct dCommerce to eCommerce in search results, you don’t have to be an online (or mobile) gamer or a niche content aficionado to be familiar with the idea of buying bits and bytes for real money. Most of us, especially now as a result of COVID restrictions, have experience spending money for online memberships, subscription services, and content.
dCommerce is the point of the spear in the world of Digital Transformation and the impact that technology is having on HOW things get done. Over the next decade, the lines will continue to blur as we shift business from using technology to sell a product or service to creating customer value through technology.
For this article, we’ll focus on the opportunities dCommerce provides to blur the lines between marketing and sales through technology …
Advantages of dCommerce
Though many people are looking at dCommerce because of the challenges that exist in traditional business models, the primary advantages of selling digital products include:
- Scalability: Once built, inventory is unlimited. You can sell the same “product” an infinite number of times and still have inventory to sell again.
- Simple Product Logistics: Unlike a storefront with physical products, dCommerce products eliminate the need for inventory management, physical product packaging, and shipping logistics. Digital products have none of the traditional logistics challenges that physical product sellers have.
- Low Upfront Costs: the barrier to entry is low when selling digital products. It doesn’t demand the same type of upfront investment as you’ll find with traditional business models.
dCommerce: Pay per Punch
dCommerce is not new. In 1981, Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and Viacom cable subscribers had their first mass media opportunity to buy content through technology. Fast-forward to the 2000s and content marketers started helping clients create eBooks, online memberships and email subscriptions, and selling access to knowledge. And yet, for many businesses, the idea of creating and selling customer value via technology is still a foreign concept.
For this world of click-and-mortar, we’ve found the easiest way to explain the opportunity and convince business owners to explore dCommerce is ask them to open their purses and wallets. They’ll generally find a health insurance card, an automotive club card or a gas rewards card (or several). We point out that each represents a version of dCommerce that they can apply to their business.
1. Rewards Cards: Trading Data and Access for Information, Discounts and Upgrades
A very simple way to introduce dCommerce to a business is by asking for an email sign up. Since dCommerce blurs the line between marketing and sales, developing a simple transaction that convinces the user to share their email (give value) in exchange for digital content shows that value can take forms that the business may not be accustomed to sharing.
And, given that there are over 290 billion marketing emails sent each day, most every business owner, marketer, and consumer will immediately be able to understand how this type of digital transaction works. All traditional brick-first companies should consider some type of simple reward or email program to make sure they can push audience awareness and remain in the consumer’s consideration set.
2. Roadside Assistance Clubs: Paying for the Privilege of Membership
My sons each carry an automotive club card, just in case. Thankfully, they’ve never had to use them for the defined purpose, but each has called for travel tips, coupons, and discounts on products and services. In the world of dCommerce, memberships and subscriptions are primary offerings.
These memberships often provide access to software licensing and premium content. Consumers also buy these memberships to gain access to communities, priority/preference, expertise (generally in the form of published or syndicated digital content) and prove association.
Businesses can create private social media groups, badges and icons that members can add to their websites or email, or even grant priority access to goods and services before the general public. A rapidly expanding dCommerce membership vertical is wellness. From personalized fitness programs (with custom mobile apps) to medical record tracking, healthcare companies are finding ways to combine their expertise and technology to present extreme (and reproducible) customer value.
3. Insure Your Dreams: Courses and Consulting for a Brighter Tomorrow
The most popular, and arguably most profitable, dCommerce products are tied directly to selling consumers their own dreams. Generally sold in the form of eBooks, swipe files, toolkits, and online courses, these dCommerce products allow companies to convert experiences and expertise into a digital format and then sell those digital assets to consumers.
eBooks and swipe files typically explain a specific activity (like “How to Build a Drop-shipping Business in 5 Easy Steps”) while courses generally follow a traditional pedagogical model and present multiple digital assets as lessons connected to the exercises and examinations to teach the user a more complex skill. Click-and-mortar companies don’t need to hire teachers and start building courses to create these products. Just stop and look at your business. You’ll find that you have expertise that is appealing and monetizable.
Again, dCommerce blurs the line between sales and marketing so your ROI may be more than revenue. We used this courses technique to help a property management company build a reproducible lead generation program through a swipe file that taught landlords how to check a property at the end of the term for lease violations. The download only cost $10 and included access to the property management company’s team for buyer questions. The direct revenue from the product has been modest but the client sees the swipe file as a huge success.
Many of the buyers became prospects for the business’ management engagements and they’re generating new clients from this pool of prospects 2X faster than any of their other advertising and marketing efforts.
Any company can capture their unique knowledge in a digital format and use it for revenue, and more importantly, to establish their authority in their category. “I wrote the book on it” is an extremely powerful differentiator, regardless of the industry.
Technology: Driving dCommerce Innovation
dCommerce will continue to expand its impact on business over the next decade. The events of 2020 have been a catalyst for our move to virtual environments. For some, this has been the first time that we’ve seen that we can still be productive, maintain relationships, and even expand our skills in virtual environments.
And yet, COVID-19 is not what’s fueling the move to dCommerce. It simply accelerated our move to an integrated world. Companies that acknowledge and implement technology (often called Digital Transformation) are best positioned to identify new sources of customer value through technology.
The economy will recover but it will also continue to evolve in directions that favor digital solutions. Keep in mind that dCommerce meets customers where they’re at and provides value through technology. There are dCommerce possibilities for all of us.
If the idea of creating and/or executing on a dCommerce strategy seems overwhelming, know that you don’t need to go it alone. We’re in this with you. If you need a little help, just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services