It’s time for manufacturers to shift their mindset about distribution models.
Instead of thinking of your supply chain as linear, imagine it as an interconnected sphere, in which you and all your customers — distributors, veterinarians, and pet owners — can talk.
To be successful in the animal health market, that’s what you need to start doing: talking to all of them, on their own terms. Some products belong in veterinary clinics. Other may be sold via veterinary retail, in brick-and-mortar pet stores, or direct-to-consumer online. You’ll need to account for all of these spaces in your distribution strategy.
This holistic, omnichannel distribution and marketing approach will differentiate you from competitors not as quick to adopt it. Here are four reasons why you should be one of the first to do it.
1. You’ll reach more customers.
Strategically evaluating different ways to disperse your product gives manufacturers an opportunity to reach nearly all of the market. For example, if you sell only to veterinarians, you’re missing out on potential customers who don’t buy animal health items from their veterinarians.
2. E-commerce is the future.
Those customers who aren’t buying from their vets? Often, they’re shopping online. Shoppers are constantly searching online for the best price and a convenient purchasing process, and the demand for internet-based transactions is on an upward trajectory. A quarter of consumers in the U.S. say they’re more likely to buy food online than in a store, according to a 2018 Nielsen study. By 2025, the online market for pet food and supplies in the U.S is expected to top $6 billion.
It’s important to understand this area of the market so you can be proactive in your approach. Bottom line: If you’re not there, your competitors will be.
3. Product diversion is ruining reputations.
It’s not fair, but product diversion happens. An omnichannel distribution strategy that streamlines your supply chain and incorporates sales and customer-relations management in the digital space can help you prevent your products from being diverted. (More about how joining the e-commerce empire can help you keep products off the gray market here.)
4. With one distributor, you can successfully manage all channels.
The benefits of incorporating an omnichannel approach to your distribution model are undeniable, and putting this strategy into action doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can all come down to the right master distributor. An effective, experienced partner can guide your team through this process and offer help by:
- Exclusively distributing to e-commerce channels, lessening the opportunity for diversion.
- Evaluating e-commerce channels and brokering contracts on your behalf, preventing them from selling your products from other sources.
- Managing your brand’s reputation and fielding online reviews and customer feedback.
- Developing marketing strategies for different products to specific channels, e.g. the vet’s office, veterinarian retail, pet stores, and online.