eCommerce for manufacturers: how to avoid channel conflicts

by | Nov 28, 2023

Is the fear of upsetting the relationship with your distribution and retail partners keeping you from committing to and launching eCommerce for manufacturers – and limiting sales growth?

If so, you aren’t alone. I hear this often when connecting with manufacturing leaders. Fortunately, there are ways to address the concern and create a win-win situation for manufacturers and for your distributors, and customers.

Here’s a few tips I’ve found that help.

Establish clear communication with distributors and partners.

Channel conflict often arises from miscommunication or a lack of understanding of the bigger picture. I always encourage manufacturers to be transparent in their communications with distributors and partners about both their needs to drive growth, the critical role partners play, and how the implementation of B2B eCommerce will increase the ability for all to win through more sales channels, driving both brand awareness and product loyalty.

Be consistent on price.

Channel partners often fear that eCommerce and multi-channel sales means the product may be discounted online, reducing their ability to sell and expand sales relationships. So be consistent and communicate. If there is a special promotion, communicate that to your distribution partners ahead of time so they can also leverage and use that as a moment to ensure harmony between online and offline sales.

Deliver value-added services.

Manufacturers can enhance relationships with distributors by offering value-added services through the B2B eCommerce platform. This could include real-time inventory updates, technical support, and marketing collateral, reinforcing the platforms’ role as a collaborative tool versus potential thread.

One potential solution is to use an eCommerce platform to accept orders and have them fulfilled by your distributors.

In this scenario, determine how distributors will be compensated for their services. One approach is to collect the credit card proceeds in your merchant account and then pay the distributors a commission. Another option: distributors could receive the initial payment in their merchant account and then pay you. However, this is a less common and more complex approach.

By allowing distributors to fulfill customer orders, you can retain customers who require additional services that the distributors provide. This arrangement ensures that customers receive the necessary support while benefiting you and the distributors.

Leverage data analytics to create sales enablement tools for distributors 

Using insights from buyer behaviors, preferences and trends and sharing that with your partners is invaluable for optimizing product offerings and marketing strategies. And that data sharing helps build trust too.

Ultimately, the customer wins by having products and services meet their needs. But manufacturers and partners win too by delivering on what customers need and want.

Streamline the order fulfillment process.

Efficient order fulfillment is crucial for customer satisfaction. By investing in systems that streamline order processing, making it easier to order and reorder, get quotes, manufacturers and partners benefit by a reduced time to sale, and overall more efficiency in the supply chain and process.

Looking ahead

Successful implementation of B2B eCommerce for manufacturers can happen at the same time as channel conflicts are avoided. By adopting the right technology, communicating effectively with partners, and implementing strategies that enhance the overall customer experience, relationships will become deeper through a mutual win-win.

And as manufacturers don’t let fears of channel conflicts get in the way of growth, they too can think more creatively to leverage and better integrate technology across the organization to achieve scalable growth.

About Aleran

Aleran’s unified digital commerce platform is built to meet B2B buyer expectations so manufacturers can quickly, easily and efficiently accelerate and transform sales.

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