The distributor: Partner or customer?

Date of publication: June 15, 1972

Author: M. Philippe

Abstract:

From investigation of a specific case, the changes in relations between the firm Manufacture Metallurgique de Tournus and the distribution trade, the paper will try to show that most of these complaints can be traced back to discrepancies between : - the role the producer assigns or wants to assign to the distributor; - the distributor's own perception of his role; - the distributor’s expectations. The paper will present : 1. The original relationship between Tournus and distributors, from the results of a survey carried out in 1969; 2. The applications of this survey, which have led to the organization of specific sales policies and strategies for each type of distributor network (large stores, chain stores, cooperatives, voluntary chains, etc), based on classification of household goods distributors. Each of these policies was accompanied by the definition, for each type of distributor, of a range of products, an invoicing scale, a set of services and canvassing method specific to that type. The consequences of these policies, particularly on the creation of new products and internal organization. Finally, defining of a development policy based on a prospective survey carried out in 1970, the aim of which was to organize the sales force and sales strategies in the light of estimated development of the distribution of household goods in the next five years. This work allowed the creation of new products to be orientated. It further more modified the relationship between producer and distributor, with the introduction of "partner" contracts signed between certain selected distributors and Tournus.

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