There are many advantages to selling through a network consisting of independent dealers for manufacturers of consumer durable goods. For instance, manufacturers can avoid the huge costs of interacting with multitudes of end users, and independent dealers deliver a much better customer experience to end users than Big Box or eCommerce retailers do by being customer-centric experts. But, gathering enough data to be able to produce effective analytics is made more difficult - the more middlemen there are in distribution channels, the harder it is to bring data from one end of the channel (the end customer) to the other (manufacturers/distributors).
Manufacturers and distributors of consumer durable goods should therefore treat their dealers as ‘strategic partners’ rather than just as ‘customers.’ By entering into data-sharing agreements, OEMs/distributors can get more reliable information on customer trends for marketing, sales, ops, and strategy, and dealers benefit from a broader market insights than they could otherwise find from their data alone. To illustrate just how valuable arrangements between dealers, distributors, and manufacturers such as this can be, here are 3 benefits for manufacturers and distributors knowing their dealers’ inventory levels:
1. Better Visibility
When their dealers’ inventory levels are visible, an OEM or a distributor can see when a dealer is running low. This enables them to send them notifications or even re-stock automatically. Also, OEMs/distributors can merge end-customer purchase trends along with existing dealer inventory levels to inform production. This reduces strain on warehouses and fulfillment centers.
2. Better Relationships
After entering into a data-sharing agreement, manufacturers/distributors can offer proactive assistance to their dealers. If levels are too high for a specific product a sales rep can reach out and inform dealers that they should target sales for that specific product. Using an analytics, they can identify cross-selling opportunities or certain demographics for them to target.
3. Better Planning
Before onboarding new dealers, manufacturers/distributors need to conduct in-depth analysis into year-over-year area stats for end-customer purchases. By not doing so they risk adding a dealer in an area which does not have a market that can support it. In conjunction with product registrations, dealer inventory levels can give manufacturers/distributors the information they need to better manage their dealer networks.
In conclusion, manufacturers/distributors/dealers have a lot to gain from sharing information with one another. They should enter into data-sharing agreements, so that information that is valuable to each partner can be used to strengthen the partnership overall. A customer data platform designed to store, analyze, and disseminate sales information across multiple levels of distribution can help make such an initiative a reality by removing concerns about analytical capabilities, computing requirements, and data fidelity.