Managing channel conflict

Many channel members resisted the internet at first, because of the perceived threat of disintermediation. Airlines took the lead by selling tickets directly to passengers. Automakers thought they had found a cost-effective way to go around their dealers. Proponents of disintermediation also forecast the demise of real estate agents when home buyers could search, negotiate and buy houses on the internet. This prospect attracted a swarm of start-ups to the home buying arena. It is instructive that most have failed - but a few are thriving because they help agents by serving as a lead generation vehicle. Realtor.com lists over 1.4 million homes for sale, and directs inquiries to a local agent who takes over the relationship building part of the sales cycle. Realtor.com also develops customized web sites for agents, and helps them sell related services such as mortgages. In this way the two channels complement each other[7].

Because the internet has been so thoroughly co-opted and integrated into existing channels most of the concerns about conflict have dissipated. Even the minority of 7 percent of the sample who saw the internet as a major threat because it increased channel conflict, didn't let that dampen their enthusiasm. We found no relationship between their judgment

Figure 1 Influence of number of channels

Figure 1 Influence of number of channels

George S. Day and Katrina J. Bens about channel conflict and their overall judgment about the impact of the internet on customer relationships.

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