Manufacturer/Retailer Relationships: A Marriage Made in Heaven
Retailers are also diligently keeping an eye on manufacturers to make sure they aren't undercutting them on price or aggressively advertising online to draw consumers to their websites. "It's one thing for a manufacturer to service a customer who has come to their site, and quite a different matter for manufacturers to compete with their retailers," says Fulmer.
Most retailers understand why manufacturers feel they need to have an e-commerce site, says John Barr, president of K. Hall Designs, a home fragrance, bath and body products manufacturer. "Once they go to our website and see that we're not undercutting them [on price], they don't have a problem with it," he says, adding that retailers recognize that most manufacturers these days have an e-commerce site.
Despite all the attention being given to manufacturers' e-commerce sites, don't expect them to drive significant sales volume. Over the next four years, manufacturer sites could generate $8 billion in sales, Fulmer predicts. Compare that to the $32.6 billion consumers spent online in November and December of 2010 alone. The value of manufacturer e-commerce sites is their potential to improve the customer experience online. "When a manufacturer e-commerce site is done right, there's an opportunity for collaboration with retailers, for the pie to get bigger and for sales to increase for everyone," says Fulmer.
Chantal Todé is a freelance writer and editor. Reach Chantal at firstname.lastname@example.org.