Would you describe your company’s distribution channel as a tightly run ship, a chaotic free-for-all, or somewhere in between?
If you’re not sure, the questions below should give you a better sense of where your business’s resale infrastructure falls on this spectrum:
- Does your internal sales team have strict, universal guidelines about where they may sell your products, and for how much?
- Have you supplied your distributors or wholesalers with a list of authorized dealers, and do they have strict instructions not to sell your products to anyone not on that list?
- Does your company track inventory through each stage of distribution, so you can trace the source of product leaks that could lead to unauthorized listings?
- Do you have a standardized process and minimum criteria for accepting new dealers into your network?
- Have you developed a standardized mechanism to disseminate information (updated product specs or pricing, for example) to all resellers automatically?
If you weren’t able to answer yes to most of these questions, your resale channel probably leans closer to the chaotic end of the spectrum. That could be putting your brand at serious risk.
How an Ad Hoc Distribution Channel Could Hurt Your Brand
Here are just a few examples of the risks your brand takes when you have only an ad hoc, manual process for working with your resale partners and overseeing your distribution channel:
You’ll have no way of ensuring the quality of new sellers.
If you don’t have a process to standardize the screening of new sellers, you’ll find different employees using their own vetting criteria—or, worse, no criteria at all—to decide whether or not to add new distributors and retail partners to your network.
Over time, this could lead to a downward trend in the professionalism, reliability, and overall quality of your average resale partner. Because these resellers are your customers’ points of contact when buying your product, this could obviously have a negative effect on your brand’s reputation in the market.
Your resale partners will eventually be presenting inaccurate or outdated info to the market.
When you add or change your products, publish new sales materials, or update your pricing, how will you know all of your sales partners are getting this information?
If your team communicates these updates to your resale channel on an ad hoc basis, you could find your products being advertised for outdated prices and some of your resellers using out-of-date content in their listings. The confusion this creates among customers, and frustration it can create among your resellers themselves, could also negatively affect your brand over time.
You’re increasing your company’s exposure to unauthorized sellers, pricing violations, and damage to your brand.
If you fail to keep a close eye on your entire resale network at all times, and you don’t have clear dos and don’ts in place to guide your sellers’ behaviors, your company faces heightened risks of brand damage.
Distributors might sell your inventory to gray-market retailers. Those retailers might advertise your products online at below-MAP prices. This will upset your valued retail partners, as they realize you are not serious about protecting their interests by maintaining tight controls over your inventory. Some of these partners might even decide to stop selling your brand altogether. And the remaining rogue retailers selling your brand might create one lousy customer experience after another.
All of this can seriously hurt your brand.
The Solution: An Online Dealer and Distribution Management Portal
With so many resellers and so many online marketplaces for them to compete head-to-head selling your products, your company can’t afford to oversee your resale network on an ad hoc basis.
You need the right automation tools and technologies to help you improve your distribution infrastructure from a free-for-all, de-centralized mess to a well-oiled machine.
One of the most effective tools now available for this is an online dealer management portal. Here’s what the right one can do for your operations:
- Automate and streamline the reseller signup process
Digitally manage dealer applications, credit form applications, approvals, new account set up, etc.
- Simplify and automate digital asset management and access control for dealers
Create digital content libraries for your dealers and distributors to access, including sales materials, pricing grids, product images and videos, etc.—and automatically notify all relevant sellers about updates.
- Manage entire dealer base via streamlined communications center
You can create any number of templates and send to dealer network based on any criteria, including dealer tags. You can also associate digital assets to specific products, to help streamline your resellers’ listing-creation process and reduce confusion and errors. You can even use this communication center to streamline your process for receiving distributors’ inventory-sales reports.
- Manage product information across the entire resale channel
Upload current, company-approved content and technical specs for each product and use the product feed as an authoritative data source for your resale network’s sales and training efforts.
- Create self-serve access for your dealers
You can also save time and money by reducing reseller inquiries and requests by making all of this content—images, digital assets, product information, promotional updates, etc.—accessible to them anytime via their dealer portal login.
These are just some of the many benefits to implementing an online dealer management portal for your distribution channel. To learn more—and get a custom quote for your business — contact a TrackStreet Solution Architect.