What are the best practices to know, understand and follow the evolution of users' needs when the partner (distributor) is acting as a filter?
In a manufacturer-partner relationship, there is a gap between the buyer and the user. In order to optimize the manufacturer's combination of products and services for the user's satisfaction, the manufacturer must get direct feedback for the user; not only from the buyer's eyes and forecast.
While partners don't want to be by-passed by the manufacturer, what is the best ways to address this concern and to capture direct continuous feedback from the final user of the product?
Thank you in advance for your answer.
Channel visibility (or lack thereof) is a common problem. Often manufacturing firms selling through two-stage distribution (wholesale distributor to reseller/retailer to customer) only get data from the level that does the purchasing.
However, that's changing with the advent of Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and collaborative commerce systems. Essentially, the manufacturer sets up a web site to provide information to, and to get information from, the end customers or even consumers. Now the manufacturer can influence buying decisions more directly, while the actual buying process continues through the distributor/partner.
To make this work, the manufacturer has to invest in a PRM system (either developed in-house or from vendors like Allegis, Channelwave, and Siebel) or a collaborative commerce system from vendors like Click Commerce, Comergent, and HAHT Commerce.
As for best practices, based on my research I'd say the most important thing is to study the real and perceived needs and concerns of each party, and to ensure your system doesn't create channel conflict. You also might study what Maytag and Cisco are doing to see what I mean. Getting top management support for your project, planning thoroughly, and picking an appropriate solution are of course important too.
Best wishes with your project.
Dig Deeper on Customer relationship management (CRM)
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