Omni-Channel Distribution

Marketing seems like it is only getting harder. More ways to communicate and sell to the customer — driven by new technology — means more opportunities but also more challenges. This has led to a concern about showrooming. This is where a channel is used primarily to show off the products but not to make the sale. This is a challenge when the sale is eventually made by the same company — which channel do you attribute the sale to? “So, if some channels increasingly get used as showrooms while purchases get made elsewhere, the showrooms need to be rewarded” (Ailawadi and Farris, 2017, page 121). These authors look at how one can effectively manage such a complex omni-channel environment.

One might note that showrooming is even more of a bone of contention when a different company gets the sale. If you pop into a local store to look at a product but buy off Amazon you can see why the local store wouldn’t be that happy. Perhaps some comfort can be taken from the fact that webrooming also exists. Pre-sale research online followed by an instore purchase. In an ideal world these net each other off but that would be a little too neat to be true.

Kusum Ailawadi and Paul Farris outline some ways to measure distribution in an omni-channel world. They give a host of metrics that can be used. They also outline research directions. There is a lot to do. For example, they note that “what is needed is information on the different intermediaries that a consumer visits on the path to purchase so that one can determine what functions are being performed along the path to purchase by each one.” (Ailawadi and Farris, 2017, page 133). The information on this isn’t really available but better technology may be getting us nearer. (Of course, there are privacy considerations here but that is another story).

Read: Kusum L. Ailawadi and Paul W. Farris. “Managing multi-and omni-channel distribution: metrics and research directions.” Journal of retailing 93, no. 1 (2017): 120-135.