Minimizing Channel Conflict for Consumer Brand Manufacturers

These days more and more consumer brand manufacturers are making the move to sell direct-to-consumer through their eCommerce channel. Clear benefits such as increasing brand equity, higher profit margins, and more control over the purchase experience make this strategy very appealing for many consumer brands.  However, many of these brands run into challenges when their “most important customers” are competing in the same space.

These most important customers are the brands retail distribution partners.  Many consumer brands have relied on their retail partners to sell their products to the masses, whether its traditional “big box” chains, such as Wal-Mart, Target, or Home Depot, who have an online and offline presence, or web-only retail partners who sell directly to the consumers through various web properties.  So how do consumer brands continue to maintain a relationship with their retail partners while reaping the benefits of providing a direct-to-consumer distribution method?  Here are a few tips that will help…

Give your customers options

When a customer is ready to purchase on your site, offer them an option to purchase through your retail partner sites, such as or  Be sure to choose only a select few, most important, retail partners.  As a bonus, implement advanced tagging to use this as leverage in your seller / buyer negotiations to increase SKU counts with retailors or to simply minimize friction and help your salespeople build rapport.

Set the Right Price

By monitoring your retail partner’s prices and setting your direct-to-consumer prices above will help minimize and conflict. This will also help when running Google Shopping and Comparison Shopping ads where consumers often price shop multiple websites.

Use Advanced Paid Search Tactics

Using advanced SEM strategies will allow you to acquire customers without conflicting with your retail partners ads. This may include opportunity keywords or long-tail keywords that your retail partner is avoiding, or by ensuring your paid search ads are displaying in a lower position that those partners. This should involve heavy keyword analysis, research, and an execution strategy as well as reports to prove results!

Be Upfront with your Digital Marketing Agency

If you awork with a digital marketing agency, let them know during the onboarding processes who are your most important retail distributors. This may influence efforts across multiple channels, including SEO, display advertising, and social media. Being upfront will minimize any conflict that may arise from the unknown.


Prepare for the August 2014 shopping search transition with Google Shopping and data feed optimization:

Guide: The New Google Shopping

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