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We Compared Direct to Consumer vs Retail: Here’s What We’ve Found

Helpful Summary

  • Overview: We compared D2C and retail models. D2C offers more control and profit but faces tough competition, while retail provides steadier orders with wider reach but less control and profit.
  • Why you can trust us: At Upscribe, we excel in the D2C Shopify space, and have aided brands like Bionox in increasing their subscriptions by over 180%  after they switched to us from Recharge. We improved their customer portal which their customers thought was easy to use, functional, and thoughtfully designed.
  • Why this is important: D2C allows direct customer interaction, leading to better profits but with operational challenges. Retail ensures consistent orders but limits brand control and reduces profits.
  • Action points: For a strong online presence and customer relationships, consider using Upscribe to boost subscription experience, loyalty, and sales growth, whether in D2C or retail.
  • Further research: Explore Upscribe’s features and case studies to understand how it can specifically benefit your D2C or retail business.

Can’t Choose Between D2C or Retail?

Which do you think is better for your brand? Direct-to-consumer (D2C) gives you more control and higher profit but comes with tough competition and complex supply handling. While retail is steadier and reaches more people, you can experience fewer sales.

You’re in the right place because this Upscribe guide breaks down both options, making it easier for you to choose what’s best for your brand!

Why Listen To Us?

By assisting companies in choosing between Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) and retail models, Upscribe plays a pivotal role in enhancing profits, brand control, customer loyalty, and market reach.

We specialize in elevating businesses through strategic model selection. Our work with Bionox exemplifies this, achieving a 180% subscriber growth, while Ready, Set, Food! saw a 35% margin increase through our effective subscription management.

What Is Direct To Consumer (D2C)?

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) is a business model where brands offer their products directly to the customer, skipping stores and other middlemen. This means they handle all their marketing and selling themselves, giving them more control and often leading to lower prices and better profits.

It is mainly about selling online and using social media to connect with customers – a straight-forward approach focusing on a direct link between the company and consumers, aiming to make the shopping experience more personal.

Upscribe, a prominent D2C tool for Shopify brands, has demonstrated remarkable success in the ecommerce space. We’ve helped companies like Caldera + Lab in reducing help tickets by 50%.

Our strengths lie in enhancing subscriber experience and retention, with features like easy reorder functionality and growth tools. We have processed over $1 billion in subscription revenue, showcasing its effectiveness in scaling Shopify merchants’ profits and improving customer experience.

Upscribe is designed for platforms like Shopify, making us great for D2C businesses. Plus, our reorder function can be a key feature for D2C brands who want to have their customers coming back.

Pros and Cons


  • Better profits
  • Wider reach
  • Access to customer data
  • Easy to start
  • Brand control


  • More competition
  • Scaling challenges
  • Higher liability
  • Complex supply chains

What is Retail?

Retail, compared to D2C, is another business model but the products are sold in various ways: physical stores, online shops, or third-party resellers.

In retail, the stores purchase the goods from markers or wholesalers and then sell them to the customer, but usually at a higher price. They take care of marketing and selling wholesale products from brands, providing  a wide range of choices.

Upscribe can also be helpful for online retailers who want to build lasting customer relationships by enhancing their Shopify store subscription experience. With our tools, we can help them build a personalized marketing campaign and keep your customers.

For example, Bionox, a sports and nutrition supplement brand, experienced a significant growth in their subscriber count, by over 180%, after switching to Upscribe from Recharge in Q1 of 2023. This was driven by our reliable customer support and a more user-friendly subscriber experience.

Pros and Cons


  • Larger/bulk orders
  • Steady sales
  • Ready customer base


  • Lower profits
  • Limited pricing control
  • Need for marketing

Direct-to-Consumer vs Retail: An Overview

Aspect Direct to Consumer Retail
Ease of setup Quick and straightforward Requires more effort and steps
Customer reach Potential for global market reach Geographically limited in score
Brand Control Full control over brand image Shared control with retailers
Profit margin Higher profit margins Lower, due to middlemen
Business Operation Complex operations, esp logistics Moderately complex compared to D2C

In short, D2C means more profit by talking directly to customers but also brings tough competition in running the business. 

Retail on the other hand gives you steady orders and customers who already know what they want, but you make less money or make fewer decisions over your brand.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up the comparison: direct-to-consumer is best for big orders and business deals, offering savings and more sales. But retail targets individual shoppers, boosting profit per sale and offering unique experiences.

When aiming for a solid online presence and lasting customer relationships, Upscribe’s toolset can be your partner, enhancing the subscription experience, boosting customer loyalty, and driving sales growth.

We can also help you build a strong subscription model for you to grow metrics like average order value, long-term value, and customer loyalty.

To know more about how to successfully pull this off, schedule a demo now!