The Internet has greatly expanded the number of companies using direct distribution, either as their only distribution channel or as an additional means of selling. Dell sells only online, while Adidas and Apple sell both on Web sites and in stores. The eBay online auction site has become the channel of choice for countless small businesses. Many of the companies selling over the Internet are enjoying tremendous sales growth. The largest of the online retailers—Amazon—was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995 as an online bookstore. In its fifteen-plus years in business, the company has experienced tremendous success, generating more than $34 billion in revenues during 2010. With sales soaring by 51 percent, the future looks bright for the company.“Finance,” Yahoo!, q?s=AMZN&ql=1 (accessed October 13, 2011); “Amazon’s Profit Falls 8% Despite 51% Jump in Sales,” Los Angeles Times , July 27, 2011, jul/27/business/la-fi-amazon-earnings-20110727 (accessed October 16, 2011). The advantage of this approach of selling direct to the customer is a certain degree of control over prices and selling activities: you don’t have to depend on or pay an intermediary. On the other hand, you must commit your own resources to the selling process, and that strategy isn’t appropriate for all businesses. It would hardly be practical for Wow Wee to sell directly to individual consumers scattered around the world. Selling through Retailers Retailers 35 buy goods from producers and sell them to consumers, whether in stores, by phone, through direct mailings, or over the Internet. Best Buy, for example, buys Robosapiens from Wow Wee and sells them to customers in its stores. Moreover, it promotes Robosapiens to its customers and furnishes technical information and assistance. Each Best Buy outlet features a special display at which customers can examine Robosapien and even try it out. On the other hand, selling through retailers means giving up some control over pricing and promotion. The wholesale price you get from a retailer, who has to have room to mark up a retail price, is substantially lower than you’d get if you sold directly to consumers. 35. Intermediaries who buy goods from producers and sell them to consumers. Chapter 9 Marketing: Providing Value to Customers 9.4 Placing a Product 473
Selling through Wholesalers Selling through retailers works fine if you’re dealing with only a few stores (or chains). But what if you produce a product—bandages—that you need to sell through thousands of stores, including pharmacies, food stores, and discount stores. You’ll also want to sell to hospitals, day-care centers, and even college health centers. In this case, you’d be committing an immense portion of your resources to the selling process. Besides, buyers like the ones you need don’t want to deal directly with you. Imagine a chain like CVS Pharmacy negotiating sales transactions with the maker of every single product that it carries in its stores. CVS deals with wholesalers 36 (sometimes called distributors
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