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How Channel Managers and Distributors See Distributor Management Systems Different and Can the Gap Be Bridged?

As the business world faces the brunt of several economic disruptions, channel managers and distributors are finding it difficult to attain transparent visibility into operations, reduce waste, optimise spending, and drive high levels of efficiency. Tiding over potentially tough times requires them to embrace modern technology solutions that can help them manage their inventories better, streamline ordering, and improve billing and collection cycles. They understand that the right solutions can also make their sales operations more controlled and better managed.

And while many of them have invested in state-of-the-art Distributor Management Systems (DMS) to manage their distribution channels, these solutions end up underperforming quite often. This is because, there are fundamentally different things that channel managers and distributors want from these systems. Let’s look at this in more detail to understand what gaps exist, why they exist, and how they can be bridged! 

The DMS Channel Managers Need

Channel managers are busy managing partners, overseeing account profiles, and monitoring competitor activity. Fostering communication with resellers and creating plans for growing market share takes up a lot of their time, which is why they are increasingly turning to modern platforms to create and sustain new sales and establish (and maintain) good rapport with resellers. 

When it comes to DMS, there are some specific capabilities channel managers seek; these include: 

  • Real-time communication: Better (and more real-time) communication between the channel and the brand is what every channel manager today looks for in any DMS. This is essential to develop, communicate, implement, and manage a robust channel marketing strategy for the assigned channel type and reach out to stakeholders as needed. 
  • Better visibility: If you ask any channel manager at a major brand what they want from their DMS, most responses will tilt towards visibility. Better visibility into data up and down the channel is critical to regulating the movement of goods from manufacturers to end customers. 
  • Easier administration: Channel managers also expect their DMS to offer an easy way to administer, track, and manage sales promotions, offers, and pricing. They also want to be able to seamlessly control the messaging and narrative across the channel to ensure consistency and quality. 

The DMS Features Distributors Look For 

Distributors spend a lot of their time negotiating the best deals with brand principals and vendors and sourcing stock. Tasked with overseeing the receipt, loading, and onward fulfillment of products and goods, they need to ensure safe transportation and report issues to relevant parties. They also need to stay up-to-date with market trends, perform regular inventory checks, and maintain the required stock levels.

When it comes to the features distributors look for in their DMS, they are likely to focus on other aspects that matter to their operations, including: 

  • Increased transparency: Distributors need high levels of transparency and responsiveness in stocking, and that’s what they expect their DMS to provide. They need to know what’s happening across the supply chain and be able to communicate this knowledge – both internally and externally. 
  • Seamless claims processing: Distributors would want their claims and dues to get settled quickly, without too much communication overhead. A DMS that allows them to easily implement and manage payment and reimbursement of claims from clients, partners, and customers is extremely sought-after. 
  • Ease of use: Distributors work with multiple brands. Therefore, they look for solutions they can adopt easily without too much administrative overhead since that can add up across brands. 

How iSteer Solutions Bridge the Gap 

Today’s businesses need to be reachable and available as, when, and where customers need. In fact, their success hinges on their ability to respond to customer need with agility. While channel managers and distributors rely on modern DMS to meet their daily needs, albeit for different reasons, given that it’s the brand that pays for the DMS, there’s a greater chance that the needs of the brand may get better coverage. This means distributors are likely to use the system reluctantly and sub-optimally. 

If you want to ensure that a single solution meets the needs of your channel managers and distributors, you need a DMS that continuously integrates all operations across the business. At iSteer, our experienced and talented team of app developers has come together to create the best possible solution for distributors and channel partners, combining their technology expertise and the accumulated experience of iSteer.

With features spanning purchase, inventory, sales order, billing, collection, accounting, and BI and insights, we present channel managers and distributors with a unified platform that helps them overcome evolving challenges. By establishing a robust, feature-rich, and integrated digital system, our distributor-level solution fulfils all requirements of modern distribution businesses. Our solution enables distributors to easily keep in touch with the world and keep pace with the developments all around. Having a real-time view of all activities that occur in each department from one centralised platform further helps them get a better grip on the business while allowing them to drive better results.

Summing Up

Emerging markets are large and complex and consist of thousands of distributors, millions of outlets, and billions of possible transactions. Effectively managing this vast network of big and small distributors while also juggling the conflicting needs of different channel partners isn’t easy unless you have a robust DMS in place with features that are suited for both. 

iSteer’s DMS is just what you need to improve productivity, streamline inventory, and simplify claims processing. Contact us today and explore our curated distributor solution to innovate faster and deliver matchless services to your customers.