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8 Examples of a Channel Structure

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A channel structure is a means of reaching your customer with your products and services. This is essentially a high level view of your sales and distribution channels that outlines the architecture of your business.

Direct

Selling directly to the customer using channels such as personal selling, retail or ecommerce. For example, a fashion brand that has its own shops and ecommerce site.
producer → customer

Retail

Selling to retailers who sell to the end-customer.
producer → retail → customer

Ecommerce

Selling to ecommerce partners who manage the relationship with customers.
producer → ecommerce → customer

Value Added Reseller

Selling to firms that add value to your products or services before selling them. For example, a firm that sells components that are used in mobile devices.
producer → value added reseller → customer

Wholesale

Selling to wholesalers who distribute the product to retailers or ecommerce sellers.
producer → wholesaler → retail → customer

Agents

Using agents or brokers to manage your sales to wholesalers, retail and/or ecommerce sellers.
producer → agent → wholesaler → retail → customer

Complex

It is common for organizations to have many channel structures for different products and regions. For example, a fashion brand that sells direct in Germany but uses agents, wholesalers and retailers in other countries.
Germany
producer → customer
France
producer → customer
producer → retail → customer
Japan
producer → agent → retail → customer
producer → agent → value added reseller → customer
United States
producer → wholesaler → ecommerce→ customer

Detailed

Channel structures may include details such as the types of channel that are involved. For example, a direct producer → customer structure might be expanded out with more details:
Germany
direct retail → flagship → customer
direct retail → brand shops → customer
direct retail → outlet shops → customer
direct sales → customer
direct ecommerce → customer
Overview: Channel Structure
Type
Definition
A high level description of the architecture of a firm's marketing channels.
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