How to Improve Your Manufacturing Distribution Channel Strategy

By Scott Frappier | March 3, 2020

How to improve your manufacturing distribution channel strategy

Communication, speed and data improve distributor channel strategy

For manufacturers, building customer satisfaction and loyalty, expanding reach, and increasing profits all start with a successful distributor sales channel strategy. The ways consumers, including your distributors, expect to purchase and receive products have changed in recent years and if your manufacturing distribution channel strategy hasn’t kept up, you’re likely missing out on opportunities.

The most successful manufacturing companies keep in mind three areas when it comes to managing their distribution channel.

3 keys for a successful manufacturing distributor sales channel:

1. Ability to effectively and efficiently communicate
2. Faster speed for the distribution channel process
3. Data Insights

Ability to effectively and efficiently communicate

While simple phone calls and emails are great ways to reach out to your distributors, these methods don’t give you or your team insights into real-time needs and potential sales. For example, when a distributor reaches out because a product is low in inventory and needs to be restocked, it’s easy to take that call and process a new order. But what if you could anticipate the order timeline for specific products at specific distributors? By tracking communications and orders, you can turn what is seemingly random information into predictable patterns, allowing you to forecast demand and predict shipments.

The ability to predict your distributor’s needs ahead of time has a positive ripple effect across your organization. These insights lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty among your distributors, increased sales and revenue, and more efficient production schedules across the manufacturing floor.

Another key component of your communication strategy is providing a vendor portal where your distributors can access information about products, order additional inventory, view sales history, chat with your team, and more. This gives your customers ownership of their account and empowers them to engage with your company. Additionally, you’ll see a reduction in the amount of manual data entry and time-consuming processes when you allow your distributors to access and enter their own information into a system that integrates directly to your back-office solutions.

Faster speed for the distribution channel process

Portals are important not only for communication efforts but also in speeding up the distribution channel process. The faster distributors can access product lists and details and make a purchase, the sooner you can fulfill that order and automatically generate the invoice for payment.

The information that you provide to your distributors allows them to discover the data and product information that they are looking for exactly when they need it – empowering them to make buying decisions faster. Information that you provide in the portal could include product manuals, product specs, technical support information, warranty information, rebates or special pricing, product recommendations, previous order history, account details, and more.

Data insights

The data within your system holds the keys to more efficiencies and increased profits in every department across your manufacturing business.

  • By tracking specific order data and shipping history, you can streamline your shipping methods to save on time, mileage, and fuel by consolidating orders and delivering on a more predictable schedule.
  • Order history and patterns can be identified to help manage and predict needs for inventory pipeline and projected sales by specific time periods or specific items.
  • Real-time dashboards can give you insights into current sales, including where goals are not being met so you can take action to remedy any underperforming products or sales areas.

The impact of today’s technology and tools in managing your manufacturing distribution channel is far-reaching and more substantial than ever. Manufacturers that don’t put the most efficient processes and systems in place to manage their distribution will find themselves falling behind in the market. To discuss your options and learn more about the technology that can help you increase sales, boost customer satisfaction and retention, and help you with more efficient production, reach out to Stoneridge Software.

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