So, I've started this blog and now it seems I need to find things to say. Ok, how about, "who are the businesses that would make good candidates for such a model?" It turns out that there are those that sponsor a syndicated network an those that subscribe to such a network.
The service sponsors are those that have a business affiliation with a significant number of other businesses, usually smaller than the sponsors. These smaller businesses are typically distributors, dealers, or agents that belong to the sales channel of the sponsor (you might imagine a lawnmower manufacturer (1) with regional distributors (10) and local dealers (3000) in most cities and towns across America).
In the typical situation, the manufacturer has a marketing department and an information technology department. And, the manufacturer has a nice, fancy website that is maintained by an internal web team or their advertising agency of record. There is strong temptation/incentives to enable the manufacturer's website to sell their lawnmowers online. And by cutting out the middle man, the lawnmowers can be sold more competitively. Good for them - right? Not so much!
Then, at the end of the sales channel, there are the dealers. These dealers are typically small businesses with no, or small, marketing staffs. They have no information technology in-house - maybe a part-time consultant that keeps their computers running. So they resort to Internet website solutions that are designed and administered locally without the content expertise (lawnmowers) and digital assets (marketing copy and images) of the manufacturer. In fact, the dealers' lack of Internet marketing skills is one of the manufacturer's primary concern with the dealers' online presence.
Here is the problem:
1. The dealers' independently created websites put the manufacturer's brand at risk if the lawnmower images are distorted or out of date or the copy makes extravagant claims about cost, performance or warranty. There is no continuity to the marketing message.
2. On the other hand, the dealers resent the manufacturer going after their customers online with lower prices than they can sell the lawnmowers in their local retail shop. They are, after all, the business with the customers and they like to sell lawnmowers as well as service them.
And, here is the solution:
As in most industries, the sales channel members depend upon the manufacturer to set the marketing message and enable the advertising through photography and other media. Then they co-op the cost with the distributors and the dealers - think "billboards". It turns out that the same model holds together very well with the Internet by using syndicated e-commerce.
With a syndicated e-commerce network, the manufacturer provides their expertise in online marketing, information technology and product content to build a conceptual website model for their sales channel partners. From this model, custom stores can be co-branded for every distributor and dealer in the channel. The manufacturer's catalog can be centrally maintained. The cost can be shared through the manufacturer's co-op program and the overall cost greatly reduced while the manufacturer's products online presence is spread across the nation through 3000 localized web sites.
The manufacturers keep their dealers happy, and the dealers keep their customers happy!
The next blog: in-house or outsource