Establishing strong relationships with your partners-in-success is vital to maintaining your distributor and sales channels in the F&B and agribusiness industries. Here's how you can reinforce your channel partnerships.
For firms in the food & beverages (F&B) industry, having their products retailing at as many places as possible translates to higher visibility and more opportunities to sell. This is the same for the agrisciences industry, where firms need to collaborate with farmers and retailers in order to reach out to consumers.
Establishing good channel partnerships leads to lower costs of customer acquisition since channel partners are well-placed to identify leads faster and more efficiently. It will also help to increase and broaden your products’ market reach.
To spread across a vast network of channel partners, activating and engaging them is key to developing, establishing, and sustaining effective sales channels. So, how can you best do that, and build successful channel partnerships in the F&B and agricultural industry? How do you motivate them to sell your products?
A well-known global soft drink company has developed a distribution strategy that focuses on going global and staying local. They believe that products don’t need to travel too far to reach the final consumer. The firm does this through a vast network of independent bottling partners and distributors who manufacture, package, merchandise and distribute the drinks to customers and vendors. But that’s not all.
The company also believes in turning every employee — more than 60,000 in different countries and cities across the globe — into brand ambassadors. Each time an employee sees a store without a beverage cooler or a restaurant that only serves a competitor’s beverage, the employee could approach the store’s staff members to ask if they would like to speak with a brand representative.
To incentivise the employees to do so, the soft drink company worked with BI WORLDWIDE to launch a lead referral programme. This programme awards employees points for every qualified lead submitted. This helped the employees create a habit of submitting referrals, even if they may not result in a new outlet. Employees can then redeem the points for merchandise, event tickets, travels and other attractive items and experiences.
With an easy submission process and a ranking leaderboard that recognised employees who submitted the higher number of leads, the programme generated four times the employee participation, five times as many leads and 10 times as many new customer outlets within just one year. The number of leads submitted doubled and the manufacturer generated millions in incremental revenue.
The programme can be executed across different cities, but it can also be highly localised with individual employees' help.
At the same time, this unified strategy and centralised system helped to streamline channel and sales incentives at a time when the firm made changes to its bottling operations. It drove consistency, yet still had the flexibility to serve different business stakeholders and programme sponsors.
As this example shows, F&B businesses looking to scale through a diverse distribution partner network can significantly benefit from a one-stop channel partner management platform and stay top of mind for their employees and channel partners.
Even if a rewards and engagement programme works in one country, it does not mean that it can be implemented wholesale in another. To adapt to the culture of various channel partners, having a keen understanding is essential.
For instance, a global agricultural leader wanted to introduce a retailer rewards and engagement programme to penetrate the China market after a successful launch in India. For this firm, BI WORLDWIDE built a mobile technology solution since China is a mobile-centric economy. It was integrated with China’s super app WeChat and launched in six provinces. Additionally, it provided information and allowed retailers and channel partners to accumulate points that could be used to redeem rewards.
The programme was well-received with an 85% participation rate. It was later expanded to include more product lines and was also launched in a total of 20 provinces by the third year. The retailer base grew from 600 in the first year to more than 2,000 with a 100% participation rate within the first 1.5 months. The programme has since been implemented in Australia and New Zealand as well.
In F&B services, there are many technicalities and things to learn, especially when it involves specialised knowledge like nutritional information and food safety.
Additionally, it is a competitive and fast-paced industry with new products being launched frequently. Having a consolidated platform of marketing assets, product information and training that your channel partners can take to market can make it easier for them to work with you.
The same global agricultural firm mentioned in the previous section used their one-stop rewards and engagement programme to introduce new products and provide valuable industry, product and promotional information to the retailers. For instance, the pilot programme in China also supported the launch of a brand new agricultural insecticide at that time, by offering product information as well as reward points for retailer purchases.
When your channel partners can see the data on how much they are purchasing from you or selling for you over various time frames, it allows them to manage their stocks better.
The retailer rewards and engagement programme by the global agricultural firm implemented data visualisation that helped both retailers and internal sales representatives to track purchase performance, claim status, and issue offline points allocation.
Having data centralised on one platform also makes it easy for retailers to chart their sales progress and clearly see how it translates to rewards points and incentives. You can also use the data to provide actionable insights for your retailers, distributors, and other channel partners.
For fast-moving F&B companies, critical channels of distribution are grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants. If a company can build emotional loyalty among these channel partners, it’s half the battle won.
A distributor of a soft drink company wanted to tweak existing incentive programmes to shift from transactional loyalty to emotional loyalty. Hence, they partnered with BI WORLDWIDE to develop a comprehensive channel loyalty solution. It came with a visual dashboard and data analytics.
Rather than cash-based rewards, the platform integrated gamification and offered reward points, which drive specific behaviour. Highly promotable rewards were awarded through sweepstakes to increase channel adoption. Points are redeemed through an online marketplace for merchandise and experiences, incentivising the channel partners to sell more.
The result? The distributor achieved 96% of their gross revenue targets in the first year with a high activation rate among 15,000 enrolled outlets.
Having loyal channel partners who are informed, engaged and activated is valuable to businesses in the F&B and agrisciences industries as it translates to higher sales. Solutions powered by technology can help consolidate information and push out rewards via loyalty programmes based on gamification techniques. A one-stop platform that also provides updated information and data visualisation also adds value to your partners.
Find out how you can start building better, relationship-centric partnerships with your partners-in-success today.