Monthly Archives: May 2018

98. “Your Margin is My Opportunity” (Jeff Bezos)

Why Are Your Margins Too High v AMZ’s?

Your margins must cover your channel cost structure which was built for bygone days. Most channel costs evolved (from WW2 on) to push true-new products to first-time buyers. Cold calls (requiring product-education) required both factory and distributor reps to create demand. Both sets of reps got paid roughly 5% of their respective sales. Today (70 years later), most channels still have two sets of reps costing about the same. What other elements of your push-channel costs will AMZ threaten?

2018 Legacy-Channel Challenges:                    

  1. The US consumer-society lifecycle is mature with too much global supply. Power has shifted to customers. And, AMZ owns the increasing numbers of Prime customers. Brands must go to where the eyeballs are and sell them the way they want to buy.
  2. 80%+ of distributor product sales are for equally-excellent commodities (no demos needed)
  3. 90% of sales are rebuys from experienced customers (fewer cold calls)
  4. The internet makes all product – information, availability and pricing – 24/7 available. As digital information grows, product knowledge help from local reps drop.
  5. Mark-ups for full-lines of SKUs create profit/loss cross-subsidies. Average-pick size and turns are ignored. Buy: a popular $500 piece of equipment at 20% margin and some fittings for $1 to $3 each at a 40% margin. The equipment’s $100 of gross profit covers: its activity costs; the losses on fittings; and residual company profit.
  6. Mark-ups covering bundled services are not customer-centric. Customers get an assigned rep whether they want them or not. If reps were unbundled for fees and customers got 5% rebates for buying on their own, what would happen? Without unbundling, Millennials will web-room you on the big-price, popular and most profitable items on AMZ for less. They will: check the $500 equipment price at AMZ. Sees savings of $X. Spot buy it. Then, order the little-dollar picks (net-profit losers) from the distributor.
  7. And, the Perfect Clones of most profitable items are increasing at AMZ. Clones – with great information content, reviews and prices – will steal share from top brands not there. Clones can skip channel development costs and go right to AMZ’s unlimited cyber-shelf space using Fulfillment by Amazon.
  8. Loyalty to – brands, distributors and reps – will continue to erode.

Unless What?

Factories and distributors share SKU profitability analytics to solve cross-subsidies and rethink their respective service bundles. And, factories get on AMZ to win the content management war against the clones. For more: contact me for a free, virtual, SKU analytics session.     bruce@merrifield.com

97. Bright-Spot Effectiveness Versus Busyness

Efficiency Versus Effectiveness

If efficiency is doing things right, and effectiveness is doing the right things (Drucker), then what are your existing most “right things”? Find out with a customer profitability ranking. Your most net-profitable accounts qualify as your best “right things”. So, why not assign a crack team to research how to take the most profitable customers and the best customer niches to the next level?

Are you and your colleagues currently too busy to spearhead new solutions for either super-winners or losers? You can google “Cult of Busyness” to address personal psychological issues.

Analytics helps you investigate how your company can get less busy overall in order to reinvest slack into your best accounts. What are your measurable wheel-spinners? Continue reading 97. Bright-Spot Effectiveness Versus Busyness

96. How to Be Strategic on Channel Rebate Management

Channel partner incentives, collectively and imprecisely known as rebates, are huge, addictive, and problematic programs for distributors. One 2012 survey estimated total channel incentives in the U.S. to be $55B. That’s 80% of the reported $69B in total channel management budgets. A Silicon Valley survey reported that the typical factory respondent ran an average of 21 incentive programs annually with an estimated overpayment of 6%.

Twenty-one incentives programs annually? Sure! Cash bribes get fast attention. Competitors understand indirect price cuts and can quickly follow, tweak and escalate with their own programs. But, without effective plans for disciplining, tracking—and in some cases exiting—these initiatives, what happens? Factory list prices generally keep rising as backend channel incentive checks multiply. Continue reading 96. How to Be Strategic on Channel Rebate Management