The Next Step to Unified Channels
Building co-branded sites that allow manufacturers to control how product information is presented online by their retailers and distributors is becoming increasingly commonBuilding co-branded sites that allow manufacturers to control how product information is presented online by their retailers and distributors is becoming increasingly common. But, experts say, manufacturers shouldnt stop there. Doing so would be like writing a book with only a splashy cover. Its whats behind the cover that really matters. For many manufacturers, the next step in channel management will be to integrate between their own back-end systems, such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), and the Web sites that channel partners use to sell to consumers. That way, for example, an order placed on an online retailers site can flow directly into a manufacturers ordering system without a reentry by the channel partner.
Manufacturers such as Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. are working with channel partners on just that kind of integration to make ordering and fulfillment processes as seamless as possible. Channel management software vendors increasingly are supporting integration between their applications and services and standard ERP systems from such companies as SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc., as well as order management systems from such vendors as SpaceWorks Inc. Such vendor initiatives will fill some, though not all, of the integration gaps. Thats because many manufacturers still rely on home-grown or outdated back-end systems for order management, and vendors wont build direct links to those systems. So many manufacturers seeking integration between their back-end systems and online channel partners will have to turn to custom integration.