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FreeAgent CRM

FreeAgent CRM is a fully-featured CRM that helps your team get organized, gain visibility into day-to-day work, and get more done with a powerful, easy-to-use sales platform your sales team will actually love. Work smarter and f...Read more about FreeAgent CRM

4.7 (72 reviews)

36 recommendations

Lodgify

Lodgify is the #1 All-In-One Vacation Rental Software that simplifies the process of managing a vacation rental business. Easily create a bookable website, synchronize property data and availability across other channels, and mana...Read more about Lodgify

Hostaway

Hostaway is the #1 rated, and fastest growing all-in-one vacation rental software for property managers who want to get more bookings with less hassle. Designed to automate and optimize all aspects of your operations, Hostaway c...Read more about Hostaway

Guesty For Hosts

Guesty is an end-to-end property management software for short-term property managers managing 4+ listings and hosts with 1-3 listings looking to save time, increase revenue and grow their businesses. The software allows users t...Read more about Guesty For Hosts

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RMS Cloud

RMS is a global provider of innovative, cloud-based technology solutions for the outdoor hospitality industry. By offering business insights, best practices and user-friendly software, RMS enables campgrounds, National Parks, RV p...Read more about RMS Cloud

eviivo

eviivo Suite is an award-winning booking and property management platform, trusted by over 26,000 accommodations globally. It is designed to help accommodation businesses of all types and sizes go further, faster, and simplify wit...Read more about eviivo

Zenvia Conversion

Zenvia Conversion (formerly Sirena) is a live chat software designed to help businesses in the eCommerce, retail, education and other sectors respond to customer queries via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. The platform...Read more about Zenvia Conversion

Cloudbeds

Cloudbeds is an easy-to-use hotel management suite that offers hoteliers and hosts a centralized solution to help run their property simply and effectively. With Cloudbeds, you have one login, one system that is always in sync. O...Read more about Cloudbeds

Guesty

Guesty is more than just a property management software; it's an all-encompassing hospitality operations platform designed for the modern needs of property managers and hospitality companies. This platform stands out in the indust...Read more about Guesty

iGMS

iGMS is the only vacation rental software that automates up to 90% of daily hosting tasks & management. Easily control all OTA accounts like Airbnb, Booking.com, & Vrbo from one multi-calendar. Grow direct bookings with our intuit...Read more about iGMS

DataFeedWatch

Optimize your feeds for Google Shopping, Facebook, Instagram and 2,000+ more channels in 60+ countries. With DataFeedWatch you can easily optimize your data feed and let you advertise on 2,000+ shopping channels, marketplaces and...Read more about DataFeedWatch

STAAH Channel Manager

STAAH channel manager is a comprehensive solution for all hotel management needs. The cloud-based, real-time application is suitable for hotels of all sizes, providing users with the flexibility and control needed to manage online...Read more about STAAH Channel Manager

eZee Centrix

eZee Centrix is a channel manager application for hotels. Through a single online dashboard, operators in the hospitality industry can manage 5 to 1000+ rooms and bookings from various sources. Motels, hotels and resort chains can...Read more about eZee Centrix

Smoobu

Smoobu is an online vacation rental solution designed to help businesses streamline processes related to reservations, communications, guest experience and more. It comes with a channel manager, which lets users connect the platfo...Read more about Smoobu

OwnerRez

OwnerRez is a powerful and flexible system for managing vacation rental properties. OwnerRez provides booking and maintenance management, payment scheduling and collection as well as insightful reporting. OwneRez allows prope...Read more about OwnerRez

Avantio

Avantio is an ecosystem of property management tools and services, specifically designed for the vacation rental industry. Our goal is to provide dynamic and innovative cloud-based solutions for professional agencies who manage va...Read more about Avantio

Little Hotelier

Trusted by more small, independent properties around the world than any other provider, Little Hotelier is the hotel platform that lets you easily attract more guests, take direct bookings online, understand how your business is p...Read more about Little Hotelier

AvaiBook

AvaiBook is the all in one Vacation Rental Software leader in the market from the Idealista family. Our platform is responsive and it includes Channel Manager, Booking Engine, PMS tools and integrated Bank Gateway. Channel Man...Read more about AvaiBook

Rentals United

Rentals United is a cloud-based channel management solution, which assists vacation rental managers with management of online reservations and guest communications. Key features include room bookings, pricing analysis, messaging a...Read more about Rentals United

Semper

Semper is a Property Management System that helps hoteliers manage their properties better so that they can increase revenue, improve guest satisfaction and save time. The software is either locally installed on premises or can be...Read more about Semper

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: August 07, 2023

Even in these days of Internet disintermediation, it is unusual for manufacturers to sell directly to end customers. Instead, products are sold through a complex web of distributors, wholesalers and retailers, with value-added retailers (VARs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) thrown into the mix. To manage all of these sales channels, companies use channel management software. We wrote this buyer’s guide to help buyers untangle this market’s web of solutions and conduct a proper system comparison.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Channel Management Software?

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Benefits and Potential Issues

Market Trends You Should Understand

The Vendor Landscape

What Is Channel Management Software?

Channel management (CM) software, also known as partner relationship management software (or just PRM software), tracks goods and services from the seller to the ultimate consumer. These programs are valuable for automating sales and marketing processes through indirect company channels. One might think of channel management as sales force automation (SFA) for OEM and VAR channels. 

CM functions include partner recruiting; partner lifecycle, channel sales, territory, leads, order and account management; compensation planning; channel marketing; activity tracking; pipeline forecasting; and product configuration. Most systems will include partner tools that give visibility from the partners into the system. More advanced systems will also track cooperative advertising dollars and compliance. 

In keeping with classic supply chain design, the supplier firm (the upstream partner) and the customer firm (the downstream partner) should have systems that interact. This integration allows orders, inventory and other information to be passed securely between the partners as necessary.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Manufacturer buyer. These buyers work with firms that make goods to sell. These buyers need collateral distribution and partner and order management.

Distributor buyer. These buyers work for distributors and very large retailers. They need order management, price customization and shipping prioritization.

Wholesale and retail channel buyers. These buyers work for whole seller and regional retailer firms or retailer cooperatives. These buyers need strong integration with accounting to track dealer accounts, collateral distribution and marketing co-op tracking.

OEM/VAR channel buyers. These buyers work for firms that sell to OEMs and VARs. These buyers are seeking product branding, collateral customization, special order processing and accounting integration.

Benefits and Potential Issues

Increased customer satisfaction. There actually may be several sets of customers satisfied throughout the chain. Ultimately, it is the final consumer that matters most to the manufacturer, but it is rare that the consumer is the manufacturer’s customer. Partner management software gives each step in the channel increased visibility into the whole process.

Recall management. Should a product need to be recalled, CM gets the word to downstream partners quickly. Fast, decisive action can limit damage and minimize bad publicity.

Better inventory analysis and reporting. CM allows inventory levels to be maintained at optimum levels. Orders can be triggered manually or automatically, but in either case CM can measure downstream partners’ inventory trends and let the supplier more accurately project required inventory levels and manufacturing requirements.

Better account management. CM systems consolidate partner information, giving reps insight to increase sales and customer satisfaction at the same time. For example, when a VAR calls in an order, the rep can check to see if the customer is close to price breaks or order levels to trip co-op advertising budgets.

There are dangers in this level of integration: problems can propagate through the system. The Wall Street Journal reported, for example, that Amazon listed the book The Making of a Fly by Peter Lawrence for $23,698,655.93, plus $3.99 for shipping. Used copies were available for $35.54. The problem? Amazon has two channel partners that provide pricing information and in this case, the computer algorithms used by the two partners were competing against each other and raising the price in a loop.

Market Trends to Understand

  • Consolidation with CRM. Most channel management functions are being integrated into CRM and SFM systems or are included within the CRM applications from enterprise suite vendors. Stand alone channel management systems are increasingly rare, although CRM and SFM systems could be used for stand alone channel management if desired.

  • Software as a service. As with CRM in general, there is a strong move toward the software as a service (SaaS) model. A cloud-based model allows all partners to access appropriate information as long as they have access to a Web browser and the Internet.

  • Web integration. Even premises-based providers offer Web access to partners. This way downstream partners can check their accounts, check order status, place orders and track co-op account funds.

  • Mobile operations. Most channel management systems can be accessed by mobile devices and can provide email alerts as well as text message alerts.

  • Automatic ordering. If both partners have compatible systems, one advantage is automatic order placement, or vendor-management inventory. For example, as a retail store sells a particular model of television set, its inventory system tracks the quantity on hand. When that quantity falls below a certain threshold, the inventory system will automatically place an order with the supplier by interfacing to the supplier’s channel management system.

The Vendor Landscape

This type of buyer...

Should evaluate these systems

Manufacturer buyer

SAP, Oracle, GoldMine, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce

Distributor buyer

SAP, Oracle, GoldMine, SugarCRM

Wholesale and retail channel buyer

GoldMine, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage ACT!, InfusionSoft

OEM/VAR channel buyer

SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce