So your product has gained some traction in the market and you want to expand your sales channels. Where do you start?
There are a number of options available, and the best choice for your company depends on your product and the type of customer you want to reach. But first, let’s take a look at the different types of sales channels.
• Manufacturer’s reps: these are usually individuals or small firms that operate much like your outside sales people. They usually represent one product line or a limited number of non-competing product lines. Some reps are stocking reps—meaning they have products on hand; or non-stocking reps that coordinate with wholesalers/distributors to deliver products to the customer.
• Wholesaler/distributors: these are companies that carry a variety of product lines and manage warehouses with a significant amount of inventory. “Broadline” distributors are just that: they carry a broad array of products. Specialty or boutique distributors carry a narrower product line and usually focus on a few manufacturers. Specialty distributors have an in-depth knowledge of the products they carry.
• Retail: These are stores that can carry everything from soup to nuts. Retailers usually handle things such as returns, rebates etc.
• Value-added resellers: This channel provides services such as assembly, mounting, configuration, software download—they modify a product to customer specifications. They may service customers directly or service the retail channel—or both.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a closer look at each of these options. Next: what’s the difference between these options?