As part of our D2C special in October's issue of Furniture News, Cheryl Calverley, CEO of bed-in-a-box brand eve sleep, shares her insights on why consumer-facing brands take B2B directions …

When did your D2C brand first take a B2B route, and why?

eve has worked with a number of B2B partners almost since it was first incepted. Customers have a wide range of shopping habits, and eve sleep’s misison is to help give everybody the sleep they need to rise and shine, which means making better sleep accessible to all. 

We didn’t want to be exclusive as a brand, and recognise that some shoppers prefer to shop in physical retail, or with retail brands that they’ve used for many years and for a wide range of products, rather than come directly to an ecommerce business.

How did you approach that market?

In various ways, depending on the partner. The main priority is understanding the customer of each particular retailer and proposing a product and plan which would fit their customer need. So, customers shopping at a brand such as Argos are looking for a very different thing to a customer in Boots, which is different again from the Next customer.

How does your trade-facing communication differ from your consumer-facing work?

That’s a hard question to answer, because it doesn’t, really! Our brand is our brand, and everyone is a consumer of our product (everyone sleeps!), so we focus on the benefits of our products, what they give you (better mornings) and how they can fit into each customer’s individual (sleep) lives.

What’s the growth potential – and limitations?

The retail sector is undergoing a huge amount of flux, but there will always be a role for strong retail brands curating the right range of products for their customers. The potential for us is to reach the customer who perhaps doesn’t know of eve, or is on a different shopping mission to pure ‘sleep wellness’, or who would rather bundle their sleep purchase alongside a range of other goods, such as wider homewares. 

These customers will always be better reached in channels other than eve’s D2C channels, and we continue to craft products and offerings to meet exactly these needs with our partners.

Can you provide an example or two of how you successfully work with trade partners to achieve results?

Last year we launched an exclusive range of sleep gifts with Boots. It was a funny old year – Christmas cancelled and the high street open and shut – but that partnership not only allowed Boots to explore sleep as a category, it allowed us to identify the right products to launch ongoing on our own site, and to further develop for partners. As such, it acted as not just a retail partnership, but a new product test bed, and to drive brand awareness for eve. 

Our most successful longstanding partnership is probably with Argos, and again here I think the power has been in understanding the Argos shopper mission and customer, and evolving our product to really meet that need – which is a different need to that which we serve through our own site, and means this relationship can thrive alongside our D2C business.

Read more in October's issue of Furniture News magazine.