Looking for a practical guide to managing channel complexity but missed our most recent Blue Acorn iCi and Adobe Lunch and Digital Series, Commerce Transformation in Manufacturing, Featuring Forrester?
We’ve provided a recap from industry experts. The panelists who participated are listed below.
- Guest speaker Joe Cicman – Senior Analyst at Forrester
- Neerav Bhansali – Industry Strategy, Automotive & Mobility at Adobe
- Johnathan Burdette – Head of Industry Strategy, Manufacturing at Adobe
- Marc Cohen – Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Acorn iCi, an Infosys Company
What Is Channel Conflict?
When there is a dispute between two or more channel partners and one partner’s actions negatively impact profits or other KPIs over time, this is channel conflict. Channel conflict is simply a disagreement over set prices.
“Channel conflict is not by itself a bad thing,” explains John Burdette. “If you don’t have any channel conflict, you are not maximizing distribution.”
Manufacturers should focus on true collaborative problem solving by asking questions such as:
- “What problems do my channel partners have?”
- “What problems do I have?”
- “Where can we help each other to address the issues we’re both facing?”
The key takeaway from panelists was that companies cannot ignore conflict. Neglecting it could lead to price erosion. Instead, businesses should look at the framework, collaborate, and see where interests overlap.
Technology and Improving the Process
B2B distributors commonly receive incomplete data, leading to diminished customer loyalty. Manufacturers need to take charge of this clean-up effort in order to deliver an improved customer experience.
“Manufacturers can clean up their feed one category at a time and list it on marketplaces; this will give immediate sales lifts to continue to fund the clean-up process,” Joe Cicman told attendees.
A modern technology stack can help manufacturers, so they don’t have to recreate the wheel for every channel. They should evaluate where there is an overlap of capabilities and decide to integrate an experience or find an out-of-the-box solution.
“Make sure what you’re bringing to market is compelling to get that buy-in. Ultimately you want to make people’s lives easier by using the technology and creating an environment, where generally speaking, you’re increasing the key KPIs,” said Marc Cohen.
As important as it is to evaluate the tech stack and other redundancies, businesses should consider the stakeholders, their domains, and how they benefit. Consider asking these questions:
- “What is the onboarding of a new channel of a reseller?”
- “What is the top-level catalog of products and services that will be offered?”
- “Who is running the partnership aspect?”
- “How do we do the day-to-day operations?”
Developing People and Processes
The right technology is great, but teams may struggle to succeed without the right people and processes to match. Here are the types of organizational structures that are effective in non-traditional business models:
- Executive Sponsorship: They can provide protection and be the leading salesperson across the organization for any digital transformation project.
- Agile Squads: Their focus will be on tech, but businesses should want to incorporate some members to represent the channel/channels.
- Fostering Connections: Collaborate externally while including channel partners and educating them. This kind of engagement needs to be part of a good CoE model.
Transparency across teams is also crucial. “At the end of the day, the channel partners just want to be included. They know your product inside and out, and you have to include them. They can be leveraged, and you can solve problems together,” explained Johnathan Burdette.
Once the people and processes are in place, teams should look at KPIs such as sales growth, customer acquisition costs, commission structure, and customer service metrics to judge the success of a program.
A Solution for Manufacturers
Blue Acorn iCi’s Unified Reseller Network is a B2B2C commerce solution that provides a unified platform that can be rolled out to multiple dealers while maintaining the brand’s integrity.
Built on the Adobe Experience Cloud, our solution represents a tailored application of key customer-facing and back-office use cases, that enable online selling of goods and services, through a vendor or dealer channel, in a way that offers platform flexibility and brand unification and governance.
For businesses looking to unify your network contact us to learn more and download our informational booklet.