Global Marketing

International Distribution Channels

Regardless of company size, firms all around the world utilize international distribution channels to enhance their marketing strategy, ultimately helping contribute to their level of accessibility and sustainable competitive advantage. Apple sells their products via a direct sales channel through their website and their Apple retail stores. They have one of the most successful retail strategies displayed by high customer satisfaction that their consumers attribute to helpful customer service at these stores. Their strategy of ensuring their customers’ questions or issues regarding their products or services are resolved has helped them optimize their customer loyalty.

Apple to reopen more than 100 stores this week - CNET

This company’s competitive advantage is further enhanced through their diverse international channels. Apple also sells their products via merchant intermediaries such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Very recently, Apple has expanded their relationship with Target increasing Apple’s product and service offerings in their retail stores and on Target’s website, increasing training for Target employees from Apple’s team directly, and it has also further complemented Target’s reputation as a successful retailer. The diversity among international distribution channels in this scenario is just one example where these strategies have enhanced brand awareness. This is a unique approach because both companies have the opportunity to excel at their marketing strategies. Apple gets more brand recognition from consumers who shop at Target, and Target may enhance their popularity by offering more variety of products.

Target confirms plans to launch Apple mini-stores in 25 locations - The  Verge

International distribution channels can apply to a variety of industries. Colgate-Palmolive products are sold through a variety of intermediaries including but not limited to Staples, Amazon, Target, and CVS. The company gets direct sales through their website or indirect sales through their merchant intermediaries such as the many retailers that sell their products. This company can sell their products to retailers or directly to their consumers. Colgate-Palmolive also is a manufacturer of their products as well as a wholesaler who sells their products to retailers such as grocery stores.

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Smaller companies also utilize international distribution channels. Some companies such as Papyrus greeting cards may also decide to sell through their retail stores, retailers they work with, and not feature direct sales through their website. When consumers visit their website and choose a product that they would like to purchase, they are directed to retail locations where customers can visit to make their purchase or visit their two retail partners, Target and Amazon, to complete their online purchase. In this scenario, this company is utilizing merchant intermediaries and not participating in online direct sales. The company utilizes digital marketing strategies through their email newsletter available directly through their website even though it does not offer direct sales through their website. Consumers may still view their latest products and choose to shop through a variety of international distribution channels.

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These marketing channels help companies enhance their partnerships with other brands, retailers, and wholesalers. Optimization of the quantity and quality of international distribution channels ultimately helps create value for a brand’s consumers by diversifying their level of accessibility among their target audiences.