Digital technology has altered the concept of distribution on many levels. First of all, customers can now access media content products like movies, music, television shows, books and audiobooks, magazines, and newspapers in seconds via digital distribution.
More generally, the impact of the digital revolution on traditional channels of distribution in the sale of all products and services has been two-fold:
1. Digital technology has made it much easier for companies - especially for small businesses - to use direct channels of distribution effectively. Digital eCommerce tools, along with the ever-increasing prevalence of online consumer purchases, have made direct selling far more appealing and successful for businesses.
For instance, a small manufacturer of beauty products can find affordable eCommerce website templates and tools such as PayPal for handling payments, rather than having to rely on relationships with retailers to sell their products. Using software like Salesforce Einstein, AI sales technology allows companies to effectively manage sales, and automatically achieve high-quality CRM. A smaller sales team is released from predictable tasks based on customer data that software can perform to nurture the kind of meaningful relationships with customers that only humans can achieve.
Marketing and advertising have also changed - now, inbound marketing using content and social selling using social media networks are increasingly considered the industry standard. PwC’s Total Retail Survey 2017 states that 39% of respondents say their main inspiration for purchases comes from social networks. And online advertising through social networks and search engines makes it easy to target specific areas or demographics at a very reasonable cost.
Small businesses don’t necessarily have to break the bank to create compelling marketing and sales strategies that reach customers or rely on intermediaries, such as nationwide retailers. They just have to be digitally savvy, know how to connect with influencers, and create an audience for their products and services.
2. Even when a company uses indirect channels of distribution, digital technology allows them to manage relationships with these partners, as well as decisions on the overarching distribution strategy much more effectively and precisely. With enterprise software, companies can use customer data gathered from a variety of touchpoints in the customer journey to effectively manage not only relationships with customers, but also with intermediaries within channels of distribution.