Channel Marketer Report


Expanded Channel Stack Offers Bigger Tool Box For Partner Program Professionals

The channel software stack continued to grow in 2020. According to an annual review by Jay McBain, Forrester’s Principal Analyst, Channel Partnerships & Alliances, 183 companies offer channel program supporting solutions. McBain’s survey listed 159 companies at the end of 2019. As 2018 came to a close, 106 solution providers were identified.

Last year, companies invested $2.8 billion in channel software, up from $2.1 billion in 2019. In an article about his latest survey, McBain said “Delivering automation of indirect sales processes, workflows, and partner programs, channel software is becoming increasingly critical to a brand’s ability to win, serve, and retain its customers and partners.”

“With the rapidly shifting partner landscape, channel leaders and B2B marketers can no longer succeed with manual, human-centric processes or rely on spreadsheets to manage their partner programs,” he wrote. “With the trifurcation of partners into influencer, transactional, and retention categories, managing a plethora of concurrent activities without sufficient automation is no longer possible.”

Ecosystem Support Soars

The number of companies offering ecosystem management solutions saw the biggest increase. McBain added the solution category to his annual review last year, listing 18 companies earning $93 million in software sales. The latest report now lists 36 companies with a combined revenue of $173 million.

The name of this category — Channel marketplaces, financials, pricing, and inventory – was amended to include vendors whose solutions support participation in marketplaces. The new list was expanded from 20 brands to 24.

“According to McKinsey, using Forrester data, e-commerce grew more in the first three months of COVID-19 than the last 10 years combined. Almost one-third of the US economy was flowing via e-commerce by the third quarter, and marketplaces were responsible for the majority of the growth,” McBain told CMR. “We were predicting that 17% of the $13 trillion in B2B spend will flow to marketplaces by 2023 and are now thinking we will hit that much sooner — perhaps this year.”

Last summer, McBain spotlighted the impact that marketplaces will have on B2B sales, writing “the future business buyer will look more and more like a consumer.”

McBain’s comprehensive report lists solution providers in seven categories including:

  • Partner relationship management
  • Through-channel marketing automation
  • Channel learning and readiness
  • Channel incentives management
  • Channel data management
  • Channel marketplaces, financials, pricing, and inventory
  • Channel ecosystem management

McBain’s latest list of vendors facilitates learning more about them, providing links to each company’s website and social pages.