For centuries, producers of all goods have relied on distributors and marketers to sell those goods and consequently, offer customer service. Any industry is a combination of several individual sectors working together in harmonious partnerships to produce, market, and distribute goods and services.
The retail industry, too, operates on carefully placed partnerships. Business relationships with B2B partners, affiliates, influencers, and app-to-app premium publishers play a critical role in customer acquisition and engagement.
For decades, effective retail partnerships have proved to be a lifeline for customer conversions and brand loyalty. Essentially, partnerships allow retailers to reach a segment of customers and prospects who are otherwise inaccessible to them.
Traditionally, retailers managed these partnerships using manual methods such as phone, email, or fax services. Manual communication methods have lost potency in an age driven by digitization, mainly because of their inability to remain dynamic.
Moreover, the digital age has personalized customer-brand relationships, thereby ushering partnerships that focus on referrals instead of transactions. With influencers, media houses, and affiliates dominating modern marketing, businesses must resort to increased automation to facilitate effective partnerships.
With varying levels of sophistication, automation must be applied to almost every partnership that facilitates retail processing. For a successful partnership program, retailers use technology to optimize every facet of partnership management.
Automating interactions between retailers and their marketing and distribution partners is the chief function of partnership automation. Using automation to build a robust network of affiliates, social responsibility partners, media partners, and ambassadors allows businesses to streamline their management, vetting, and payment procedures effectively.
Just like CRM platforms optimize sales and customer servicing features of a business, partnership automation optimizes everything from the onboarding to the management of retail partners and affiliates.
Why Are Partnerships Important?
1. Revenue Growth
Partnerships contribute 20% of a brand’s overall revenue. Since automation significantly reduces manual work and boosts productivity, it drives revenue growth for retailers who use it optimally to manage such critical partnerships. In a Forrester research conducted for Impact, companies that encourage high-maturity partnerships observed a 2x revenue growth at the company level.
This indicates that highly functional partnerships exceed stakeholder expectations on key business metrics, including revenue growth, stock price, and bottom-line profitability. Brands that steer away from partnerships do not report the same level of success on such metrics.
2. Competitive Advantage
Ecommerce supply chains, growing consumer and supplier demands, cost inflation, and increasing labor costs create intense competition in the retail market. Customer expectations, too, are rising steadily, with more consumers demanding personalized services.
However, these are not the only competitive differentiators in the retail world. With traditional marketing and distribution methods losing relevance, brands are focusing on highly functional partnerships to gain competitive advantage. A 4x higher competitive advantage is observed by brands that consider partnerships critical to their growth.
Consider partnerships to be a strategic differentiator for your retail business and develop them using automated tools.
How Partnership Automation Improves Retail Functionality
Deploying automation platforms erases barriers to partnership entry for most businesses. An effectively automated partnership program can be used to establish connections with new audiences and develop relationships with existing partners.
Apart from conserving resources and streamlining production, automation of partnership management methods serves to improve several business performance aspects.
1. Better Cooperation
The idea of partnerships is to facilitate the synchronized working of an organization’s partners. With automation, partnerships become increasingly transparent. Different team members are accountable for each other, allowing them to adapt a unified approach to sales, marketing, and business development.
Moreover, such transparency allows retailers to set organization wide-goals for new partner acquisition and conversion rates.
2. Contracting Flexibility
Automation makes partner contracts flexible. This flexibility was explored by McAfee, a brand that recognized publishers who were driving high sales and customer acquisition.
As a result, the brand introduced a tiered payout structure providing CPA modifiers for new customer acquisition, thereby incentivizing growth. Maintaining prosperous partner relationships due to contract flexibility allows retailers to observe sales growth.
3. Reduce Redundancy
Retailers that do not utilize automation to drive partnership relationship management often face issues like duplicated credit, partner terms abuse, and management overhead. Automation streamlines relationship management workflows and reduces costs by managing interdisciplinary relationships with single payouts.
Strong cross-functional collaboration is essential for a successful partnership program. A product-aligned partnership structure that keeps all partners at their highest functionality can only be achieved by using automation.
With automation, retailers can take a comprehensive approach to partner recruitment and capitalize on partner relationships that affect customers the most. To truly utilize partnerships to your advantage, build consolidated partnerships driven by innovation and technology while breaking down internal silos.