This post is sponsored by Edenred.
The traditional channel ecosystem of past decades needs to change in order to keep pace with brands’ approach to go-to-market, and the evolution of the buying patterns of B2B customers.
This is further fuelled by innovations, digitalisation and hyper-connectivity through rapid technology adoption.
As a result, the 2020s will experience significant transformation in channel relationships between vendors, distributors and partners. Partner relationship management (PRM) and channel incentive programmes can play an important role in this transformation and bring a significant competitive advantage to brands.
Channel ecosystems are facing unprecedented transformational challenges fuelled by several important factors such as:
- More and more business buyers are involved than ever due to changing corporate structures and decision-making processes.
- As new business models such as cloud and various “as-a-services” emerge, relationships between brands and channels need a redefinition.
- Strong mid-market demand continues to be the focus of growth for the next decade.
- Increased globalisation and open market policies will impact brands’ reliance on extended channel networks for go-to-market and B2B customer support.
- The structure and role of extended channel networks will evolve as businesses decentralise functions and bring efficiency to operations.
Channel marketing at the heart of the relationship-building process can address the complexities by establishing excellence in programmes, platforms and operational execution.
As the partner ecosystem changes, channel marketing must transform to stay relevant to partner needs.
Channel marketers can help partners adapt with new ways of go-to-market models, and leverage data, insights and personalisation to drive engagements.
It is important, at each stage of the partner journey, channel marketers set targets based on objectives and partner potentials, activating triggers to action, incentives to motivate, and help take actions to achieve KPIs.
Strong and long-term channel relationships can be established through PRM and channel incentive programmes which are transparent, trust-based and outcome-driven.
A well-designed PRM and channel incentive programme will not only help to track, measure and communicate to partners the goals and objectives, but also enable them to achieve the results through incentivising the right behaviour.
All of this is possible with a high degree of personalisation, individual or group-goal settings, competitions and gamification.
With a myriad of technologies available, PRM programmes have started incorporating AI and machine learning, together with advanced data analytics tools, to provide dynamic segmentation, predictive content and deep personalisation.
This, in turn, will help channel marketers to have access to valuable information on partner behaviour, potential and insights, and enable them to make better decisions.
Most B2B organisations depend heavily on indirect channels to accelerate growth and market penetration. As distribution channel management goes through technological and digital transformation, PRM and channel incentive solutions bring a competitive advantage for brands in their channel relationships.
Well-designed PRM and channel incentive programmes help manage and achieve these objectives in a faster way. Further, these solutions integrate with commerce, sales, marketing and services to give a unified front to the channel partners through which they can interact with brands seamlessly.
As organisations plan their channel strategies for the 2020s, programme designs demand flexible data strategies, and compliances to corporate and regulatory requirements, ensuring the best practices for ethics and environment responsibilities are aligned.
Channel marketers in the 2020s will not only have the responsibility to engage, design and drive great channel programmes, but also be able to help redefine the new channel ecosystem which plays a positive role for the organisation, society and environment at large.
To know more about how Edenred can assist you to plan, design and launch your own channel loyalty programme in 2020, click here.
Edenred provides advanced expertise and solutions to manage and operate partner relationship management, channel incentives, loyalty programmes and rewards programmes across Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific.
The writer is JB Ray, COO, Edenred SEA, marketing services, who has over two decades of experience in B2B2C loyalty and incentive marketing in Asia Pacific.