Companies all over the globe are becoming more and more customer centric by providing customers with the products they desire when and where they desire them. Companies are focusing on customers – existing and potential and adopting strategies to attract and retain them by using an appropriate combination of product, pricing, promotion, distribution, and service. According to Rosenbloom, a marketing channel is “the external contractual organization that management operates to achieve its distribution objectives”.  Marketing channels are critical success factor for an organization. No matter how good the product appears in the advertisements, the tangibility of the product is in the ownership and use. A company cannot be considered to be successful in meeting the customer’s needs if the marketing channels cannot deliver a product to the customer at the right time in the right condition. The marketing channels have evolved over time, and this evolution is influenced by different market forces. Changing consumer preferences and evolving technology has brought about a big change in the marketing channels adopted by different companies. The advent of new internet-based technologies have transformed the marketing channels and distribution systems all over the globe. As businesses progressed through the different phases of the production era, the sales era, the marketing era, and the era of online retailing and marketing channels have also evolved from being production-centric to being customer-centric.
According to Darrell Rigby, Head of Global Retail Practice at Bain & Company, retailing is quickly morphing into omnichannel retailing. Omnichannel retailing means that retailers can interact with customers through countless channels—websites, physical stores, direct mail, kiosks, call centres, social media, mobile devices, gaming consoles, televisions, networked appliances, home services, and more. Consumers want everything. They seek the advantages of digital platform, such as wide selection, rich product information, customer reviews, and tips. They want the advantages of physical stores, like personal service, the tangible aspects of products and experience shopping as an event. Different customer segments value different parts of the shopping experience differently, but all are likely to seek perfect integration of the digital and the physical platforms.
Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.