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Selecting and managing multiple distribution channels is one of the thorniest challenges facing managers today. How do you make physical and digital channels, independent and company-owned ones, platform and pipeline retail, work together? How do you achieve the market coverage you need while preserving your brand’s equity? And how do you do this in a way that is sustainable for all the partners in the distribution system?
A new book by my colleague and best friend Kusum Ailawadi and Darden Professor Paul Farris provides a timely and thoughtful roadmap to meet these challenges. Getting Multichannel Distribution Right is a must-read for executives managing distribution channels -- whether they are digital natives who are increasingly realizing they must master physical channels, traditional suppliers who use independent brick and mortar channels but must integrate digital and direct channels into the mix, or intermediaries who operate pipeline retail and third party marketplaces. The book is unique in providing both strategic frameworks and concrete metrics to drive and monitor channel performance. And it does a great job of integrating lessons from academic research with insightful real-world case studies that span a wide spectrum of industries from home furnishings and packaged goods to travel and media.
As the authors write in their preface, over time, product lines, pricing, channel incentives trend toward more complexity, partially in response to the multiple and ever morphing distribution channels. We can’t just wish that complexity away. Kusum and Paul urge managers to accept the complexity and show them how to manage it with clear objectives, good frameworks, and the right metrics.
Ailawadi and Farris are world class thought leaders on multichannel distribution. I highly recommend this book.