Marketing channels are set of mutually dependent organizations involved in the process of making product or service available for utilization. It is established in academic studies that Marketing channels are the means by which goods and services are made available for use by the customers. All goods go through channels of distribution, and marketing will depend on the way goods are distributed. The direction that the product takes on its way from production to the consumer is imperative because a marketer must choose which channel is best for his particular product. It can be said that channel is the link between manufactures and purchasers. Decisions about the marketing channel system are decisive for management.
The marketing channels chosen by marketers influence all other marketing decisions. The firm’s sales force and advertising decisions depend on how much training and inspiration dealers need. Further, channel decisions involve comparatively long-term commitments to other firms. Holistic marketers guarantee that marketing decisions in all these different areas are made to jointly maximize value.
Channel of distribution (Marketing channel)
In current competitive climate, big companies are using hybrid channels in any one area. The firm must choose how much effort is needed to assign to push versus pull marketing. A push strategy uses the manufacturer’s sales force and trade promotion to encourage intermediaries to carry, promote, and sell the product to customers. This is suitable where there is low brand loyalty in a category, brand choice is made in the store, the product is desired item, and product benefits are well understood. In a pull strategy, the manufacturer uses advertising and promotion to influence customers to ask intermediaries for the product, thus inducing the intermediaries to order it. This is suitable when there is high brand loyalty and high involvement in the category, people perceive differences between brands, and people choose the brand before they shop. A marketing channel executes the work of moving products from producers to consumers, beat the time, place, and possession gaps that separate goods and services from those who need or want them.
Channel level: The producer and the final customer are part of every channel. There are numerous channels by which goods and services are distributed. It is divided into direct and indirect channel. In direct channel also known as zero-level channel, manufacturer and customer deal directly with each other. There is no middleman in this channel. It consists of a producer selling directly to final customers through door-to-door sales, Internet selling, mail order, telemarketing, home parties, TV selling, manufacturer-owned stores, and other methods.
In indirect channel, companies manufacture products in huge scale and sell these products to middle man for example whole seller and retailers. This channel can be very expensive.
Manufacturer to Customer: Manufacturer produces the goods and sells them to the customer directly with no mediator, such as a wholesaler, agent or retailer. Goods come from the manufacturer to the user without an intermediary.
Manufacturer to Retailer to Consumer: Purchases are made by the seller from the manufacturer and then the retailer sells the products to the consumer. This channel is used by manufacturers that specialize in producing shopping goods.
Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Customer: Consumers can buy directly from the wholesaler. The wholesaler breaks down bulk packages for resale to the consumer. The wholesaler reduces some of the cost to the consumer such as service cost or sales force cost, which makes the purchase price cheaper for the consumer.
Manufacturer to Agent to Wholesaler to Retailer to Customer: This type of distribution involves more than one intermediary involves an agent called in to be the middleman and help with the sale of the goods. An agent receives a commission from the producer. Agents are useful when products or services need to move rapidly into the market soon after the order is placed.
Market channels by which goods and services are distributed
Characteristics of Marketing Channels
Link between Producer and Consumer.
Flow of Goods
Classification-Direct and Indirect.
Activities- Financing, Credit Facility
It is important to consider some factors when choosing appropriate marketing channel such as product, market, company. It is observed that middle man plays vital role in distribution of product in market channel. The core responsibility of intermediaries is to deliver products to customers in their desired location. To accomplish this objective, they purchase goods and store these and then ship to customers.
Marketing channel function performed by middleman.
Designing a Marketing Channel System
Designing a marketing channel system entails factors such as analysing customer needs, establishing channel objectives, identifying major channel alternatives, and evaluating major channel alternatives.
Analysing Customers’ Desired Service Output Levels: The marketer must recognize the service output levels which its target customers want. Channels produce five service outputs:
- Lot size: The number of units the channel allows a particular customer to buy at one time.
- Waiting and delivery time: The average time consumers of that channel wait for receipt of the goods. Customers generally prefer fast delivery channels.
- Spatial convenience: The extent to which the marketing channel facilitate for customers to obtain the product.
- Product variety: The variety provided by the channel. Usually, consumers prefer a greater collection, which enhances the chance of finding what they need.
- Service backup: The add-on services such as credit, delivery, installation, repairs provided by the channel.
Providing greater service outputs denotes increased channel costs and higher prices for consumers. The triumph of discount resellers (online and offline) designates that many consumers will accept lower outputs if they can save money.
Establishing Objectives and Constraints
Another factor in designing a marketing channel system is that marketers must declare their channel objectives in terms of targeted service output levels. In competitive conditions, channel institutions should coordinate their functional tasks to reduce total channel costs and still offer desired levels of service outputs. Generally, planners can recognize several market segments that want different service levels. Successful planning needs to determine which market segments to serve and the best channels for each. Channel objectives differ with product characteristics. Channel design is also affected by numerous environmental factors as competitors’ channels, monetary conditions, and legal regulations and limitations.