Please allow me to introduce you to my good friend David Hindle. Sales is not one of my strong points – but it is something that David excels at. David is not a traditional ‘business development executive’ – he understands the genuine importance of customer experience, and sustaining long last customer relationships. Having spent over six years with Sennheiser Consumer Electronics, and a further four years prior to that with Toshiba – he knows a thing or two about both sales and Customer Experience.
David is currently the VP of a company called Etail Eye – you can read more about them later in this guest blog post – David’s first – please be gentle with him…..
Many brands today are waking up, often with bucket full of cold Twitter water, to the realization that their reputation is being damaged and their consumers have a negative experience because they don’t have their sales channel under control.
It’s actually in the hands of their retailers and etailers and unless these are aligned to the brand’s strategy, they may be wasting resources and losing sales and market share. We all know as consumers ourselves if we get a consistently bad experience from each point of purchase we visit (think of car dealerships) it can put us off a brand permanently.
Many retailers, often with brands’ money, are investing in the in-store customer experience to try and entice consumers inside and to buy offline. But even then they still have to compete with online pricing. If there’s too great a price difference between online and the store price the consumer will thank the retailer for a nice showroom and order online.
But who would they buy from? What service would they receive? How do your key retailers feel about that?
Retailers aren’t in the business of creating a showroom for the internet – they need to sell and they need margin to cover their higher costs. If there’s no margin, there’s no mission and they will quickly lose patience and delist brands that don’t deliver the operating margin they need.
To win offline you have to win online
A brand also can’t expect any ROI from a retail investment, whether it’s from POS or training, if there’s no compelling reason for the consumer to make the purchase in the store rather than online. This is when a joined up online and offline sales strategy becomes critical to the future success of the business. A fair playing field for etailers and retailers means you’re much more likely to win offline and keep your place in those key retailers. And importantly have a chance to manage the final customer experience.
Start with the End in Mind
The sales channel has to be aligned to the brand’s business strategy which should also incorporate their CX strategy. Once you have that clear you can define the type of retailers and etailers that could enable successful achievement of this aim. This is the beginning of creating an authorized seller programme; effectively creating a group of retailers and etailers who meet your agreed standards and criteria.
The all seeing Eye
Any kind of authorization programme is only as effective as it is policed and enforced. But how do you monitor the hundreds or thousands of etailers selling many products online?
How could a brand demonstrate to a retailer that it’s making improvements to the market place and should keep its product range? Many brands throw their hands up saying, ‘It’s impossible. It’s too complex. Maybe it’ll go away’. It won’t and if ignored it’ll get worse.
The answer, however, is to use a web tool to monitor the online market place. Etail Eye is just such a tool which I helped develop with former military intelligence analysts to specifically to address this problem. To bring disparate pieces of real-time intelligence together and deliver it in an easily accessible format. The tool can show who’s selling what, where and what price and even monitor competitor products. It can monitor whatever KPIs the brand wishes to measure and displays a ‘hit list’ of the etailers which don’t meet these. The brand can then work through this list taking action be it; test purchases, visits or even invitations to become authorized. This process is particularly powerful in tackling grey market and counterfeit products. This in turn creates ROI benefits which can be measured across the business. Brands have reported saving one hour per day per account manager from dealing with web issues and their retailers have more confidence they are in control of their business and increased their ranging.
Whatever a brand does they cannot keep ignoring their responsibilities to their employees, shareholders or customers, and hope the ‘internet problem’ will go away. They need to open their eyes now.
If you would like to connect with David and/or find out more about Etail Eye – please do so as follows:
VP Business Development
Mobile:+44 7912 286624
Tel: +44 1244 325634