Inventory Management: A Circle of One
We also learned each channel's role in communicating our brand to consumers. Independent retailers communicate to niche markets with great depth, while web retailers allow consumers to buy gifts and shop when they don't have time to visit retail stores. Department stores open up products to new markets within the country while providing a high profile for the brand. Off-price stores identify new collectors who have no awareness of a product and subsequently help control inventory.
The circular marketing model changed the way relationships are built and executed throughout our company. Sales representatives, for example, are no longer responsible for a single channel within a region. Instead, their compensation is aligned with coordinating a brand's multichannel message within a region. By including salespeople in this model, they're more likely to assist channel participants understand the strength of the model.
Acceptance of this model may be difficult for two major reasons.
First, companies don't like to drop old sales models, especially if they've been successful in the past. Some of the old tools, however, no longer work. Our industry was built on the backs of independent retailers that controlled the industry for many years. They continue to be important, but today the consumer is king. We have to talk to consumers where they're buying.
The other reason is trust. This model only works with transparency. In a small, fragmented industry, too many people feel they can break their word without partners noticing. We need to start trusting each other, and that begins with all of us holding true to our word. This doesn't mean being held to deals that aren't working, but being honest about what's working and what's not.
These arrangements will allow us, as a community, to find programs that work. Implementing this openness means telling your channels about your marketing strategies, the role each channel plays and an agreement on how to communicate.