Multifaceted or Multi-headed Channels?
As we prepare for the tradeshow season and then the pending 2020 selling season most of us in have now accepted for better or worse the premise that brands will have an OMNI Channel or multi-headed multifaceted approach to selling in the cycling and outdoor markets. So now the question remains how best to build a successful strategy to support all your customers; OEM bike brands (if applicable), distributors, dealers, and “the boss” better known as the consumer.
This series will help you navigate the market from the North American perspective where this multi-headed sales process is well underway. The North American market has been the birthplace of Internet monsters: Google-YouTube, Facebook-Instagram, Amazon, Shopify and WordPress-WooCommerce so it is fitting that we have been immersed in the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) world for a long time.
I have been fortunate to spend my career in cycling, having founded Cannondale Europe, Cannondale Japan and having returning SCOTT-Sports to the US market. More recently as CEO of Nutcase helmets and then Reynolds carbon wheels where we improved our overall sales and market competitiveness with a DTC marketing strategy to increase brand demand and bottom line performance.
We find that the first stop on channel management is how to organize your staff at your USA subsidiary or office. We have found that old fashioned “VP of Sales and Marketing” is a title that might not be as relevant as it was in the past. We suggest the establishment of a Director of Sales and Director of eCommerce and suggest that both positions should be on equal footing and most likely report to the Managing Director or President of the company. Then the company will need skilled marketing department that can support both important channels and balance all the requirements of a modern customer facing brand. A team approach is important, and re-training of old dogs is necessary so that the company can continue to grow and cooperate internally together first and foremost.
Where to put the account leadership?
We suggest that the Director of Sales is in charge of sales reps, brick and mortar dealers, bigger online stores and if a part of the strategy distributors. Then the Director of eCommerce in charge of consumer website sales, and Amazon. Then it is up to the senior team to establish a strategy that levels the playing field so that all sales channels have an equal chance at success. Then comes the hard work of determining the rules or road map to establish a strategy where the efforts of each channel compliment the other increasing the synchronization of efforts.
The more complicated the product to install the more it will be dealer centric and less online centric. Items like Disc brakes, derailleurs, computers and e-bikes will likely stay more in store or at least require more careful integration between channels. Products like apparel, helmets, pumps, gloves, shoes where the technical challenges are few will likely continue to migrate to the online world especially when high SKU counts limit availability at brick and mortar retail locations due to inventory demands that retailers might struggle to support.
In the USA anyway pay careful attention to a strong Manufacturers Suggested Retail Pricing strategy (MSRP) where brands have the capacity to enforce pricing structures to defend their brand positions. Whenever possible it is essential that channels work together and in sync, for example during the high volume Cyber 5 period (usually late November – Thanksgiving holiday to the Monday “Cyber Monday online”) it is essential to enable brick and mortar stores to have extra margin so they can offer discounts in tandem with the offers consumers will find online from the brands. This cooperation builds trust and cooperation between the channels so that everyone can participate in strong sales promotions on an equal footing.
Next up: A Successful Website to Support all Channels