Channel management involves creating operational strategies that go beyond a single organization. Channel management strategies bring together partners in a supply chain, including material suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and resellers, in an effort to lower costs and increase operational efficiency throughout the chain.
Following Channel Management Strategies are:
- Strategic Partnerships
Developing long-term relationships with your suppliers and retail customers is the first step toward effective channel management. Rather than switching suppliers for price discounts and promotional offers, build a solid supplier base by entering into price/volume contracts, cooperative marketing arrangements, inter-company financing arrangements or other activities designed to strengthen your relationships. Develop a loyal reseller base by helping your resellers to market and sell your product effectively. Provide credit arrangements to loyal retail customers, and offer price/volume contracts to your customers as well.
- Technology Leveraging
Technological tools can be used to increase efficiency along a supply chain, but dedication and cooperation is required of all parties. Automatic order systems can instantly place orders along the supply chain when stock levels reach economic quantities. Picking, packing and shipping activities can be tied into automatic order systems to further improve efficiency and decrease delivery lead times. Order tracking technology can help individual companies to provide better customer service by knowing exactly when materials and other orders will arrive.
- Vertical Integration
Vertical integration is the act of purchasing or building your own suppliers or customers. This technique can be costly and sophisticated compared to others, but vertical integration can provide the most significant cost savings and quality control of all channel management options. Owning your own supplier or retail customer can allow you to set your own prices along the supply chain and exercise total control over operational procedures and quality standards.
- Logistical Support
Acting as a consultant to your suppliers and resellers may be one of the most hands-off channel management techniques, but it can still improve efficiency and productivity across the supply chain. Sharing best practices, technological innovations and managerial expertise can help your strategic partners to get their houses in order, resulting in lower prices and higher quality from suppliers, as well as more reliable orders from resellers. Providing marketing materials and sales training to resellers’ employees can help to boost sales for your brands as well.
Continually monitor and assess the performance and progress of your supply chain. Create thorough monitoring systems to accompany each channel management technique, whether it be something as simple as employee and customer surveys or something as complex as statistical reports from a chain-wide automatic order system. Reassess your supply chain strategies regularly and adjust them to respond to changes in the market or in a particular link in the chain.
Decision Areas in Channel Management: