online marketplaces.

In a survey of executive decision-makers of brands across multiple categories selling products directly to consumers, over half said they’re using third-party online marketplaces. And one-third of those polled said they were confident in managing the final purchasing stages.

The study was conducted by Forrester Consulting, and was commissioned by e-commerce platform provider Mirakl and SAP Hybris, an e-commerce software provider under SAP. The authors of the report said the poll revealed that “manufacturers exposed to online marketplace selling are much more confident than others about their ability to manage the online buy flow.”

The report was released as fashion and beauty brands step up efforts to sell DTC (or direct to consumer) as the broader retail market undergoes consolidation.

“The study highlights how the online marketplace model, where a B2B manufacturer showcases and sells inventory available through third-party channel partners, allows manufacturers to embrace e-commerce while mitigating concerns about channel conflict,” the Forrester researchers said.

The survey showed that 53 percent of the companies in the study are selling on third-party marketplaces or through a channel partner. Forrester said reasons for selling direct to consumers via third party sites such as Amazon or Alibaba could include: “a lack of experience with e-commerce; costs associated with building the required technology and potentially alienating their distributors, or channel conflict.”

The researchers said it was important for manufacturers to figure out the best way to create “direct relationships with consumers” or they risk being “in danger of falling behind and losing control of the customer experience altogether.” The survey also showed that companies have some work to do.

For example, the report found that only 35 percent of respondents are “very confident” in converting web site visitors into buyers. Also, one-third of those polled said they were “very confident” in tying sales results to marketing campaigns. And less than one third said they “are very confident in their ability to effectively communicate product information like price and availability to drive purchases.”

Additionally, 28 percent said they were very confident in capturing customer data from initial site visit through purchase.

More on Retail Technology from WWD:

Think Tank: Why Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Aren’t Going Away

Pitney Bowes Forms a ‘Data Practice’ in Response to Market Changes

Survey Shows Preference for Mobile Shopping, Impact of Push Notifications

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