Channel Conflict: Battle Royale Or Tempest In A Teapot? It All Depends.
September 25, 2018
Conflict is on the rise in commerce today – and I am referring to a particularly pernicious type that sows confusion and strains sales: Channel conflict. Paths to purchase are increasingly multi-directional. Goods can be bought online, picked up in stores, acquired over marketplaces, purchased through dealers, sold directly to consumers. The possibilities are endless. But to their detriment – perhaps even downfall ─ not all brands have adapted to this new buyer-driven, technology-centric landscape.
How can brands adapt? What are the new rules of engagement to eliminate conflict and drive more sales across a wider landscape of opportunity?
Some answers lie in this anecdote. Imagine a high-end kitchenware brand that sells through dealers, exclusively. No branded web store is available for consumers to buy direct. Online marketplaces aren’t an option either. Why? The brand is afraid to disrupt the revenue stream flowing through its dealer network or cannibalize its ecosystem by going direct to consumers. Yet, it’s willing to walk away from millions in sales along with the opportunity to expand into new markets, ultimately putting the brand’s longevity at risk.
Today, though, distribution is not an either-or proposition. Direct and indirect channels can co-exist peacefully. In a worldwide survey of retail professionals earlier this year, 65% of respondents said that they use Amazon as a channel to increase sales (eMarketer). In fact, variable routes to market are essential to brand health. Choice and access are everything today. The trick is to identify unique value propositions that differentiate each channel and keep brand identity intact.