Advances in information technology and changing customer needs for channel service outputs have dramatically affected the routes to markets in many industries. The authors propose that these changes have led to significant alterations in how customers interact with firms and consequently to a phenomenon that we dub ‘‘channel multiplicity.’’ Channel multiplicity is characterized by the customer’s reliance on multiple sources of information from independent (and often disparate) channel organizations and increasing demand for a seamless experience throughout the buying process. The authors identify the new market operating realities driving channel multiplicity and provide an overview of the consequences for channel design and channel management: a broadened view of products and services, channel leadership challenges, alterations in channel structure, and an expanded view of distribution intensity. The authors also identify issues triggered by these developments, which calls for further research in this field.

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Keywords customer needs, marketing channels
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Series ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal Journal of Service Research
van Bruggen, G.H, Antia, K.D, Jap, S.D, Reinartz, W.J, & Pallas, F. (2010). Managing Marketing Channel Multiplicity. Journal of Service Research, 13(3), 331–340. doi:10.1177/1094670510375601