RALEIGH, NC, March 13, 2013 — Manufacturers selling direct-to-consumers are among the fastest growing segments in online retailing, but is it right for every company? This is one of the crucial challenges, along with other important tipping points, addressed in Tompkins International’s groundbreaking paper, Consumer Products Manufacturers at a Crossroads.

“It’s really about how product manufacturers participate in conversations with consumers and manage their own brands,” says Jim Tompkins, CEO and President of Tompkins International and co-author of the paper. “Partnering with retailers has long-standing advantages, but consumer products companies now have the opportunity to control their own point-of-sale presentations and provide customer experiences that align more closely with their expectations.”

Recent surveys have shown that consumers are often bypassing retailers in favor of buying directly from product manufacturers. In fact, a new worldwide survey of online consumers conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 35% had bought items directly from brand or manufacturer websites, with more than half of the shoppers surveyed in the US and China buying directly from brands or manufacturers.

Brick-and-mortar stores will not disappear anytime soon, however, notes Bruce Tompkins, co-author of the Crossroads paper and Executive Director of the Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium. “The goal for companies is to gain enough satisfied customers in all channels to survive and prosper. What we are moving to today is Multichannel Operations Excellence – responding to consumer desires for great price and selection, convenience, and a personalized experience,” Bruce says.

Whether companies choose to sell their products directly online, in their own stores, in partnership with a retailer, through Amazon, or some combination of channels – they will need to understand the tipping points that led to this crossroads and follow the Four Pillars of Success outlined in the Consumer Products Manufacturers at a Crossroads resource in order to be successful.