Rebate Management: What It Is And How It Helps Save You Money
Imagine if you could lower your business expenses whilst improving customer loyalty and boosting revenue. As a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor, you need to deal with a series of rebates and incentive programs to track, optimize, and maintain. With growing scale, rebate management can quickly become a nuisance. Especially considering the limited market offering for technological solutions in the space of rebate management.
The good news is that technology has moved on. There are now great options available on the market that will automate repetitive tasks, improve data quality and make it easier to see which customers are and are not claim-eligible. Here is everything you need to know about choosing a B2B rebate management software.
What is a rebate management system?
A rebate management system (RMS) is a software application designed to automate repetitive tasks related to recording agreements, tracking sales and managing customer rebates for suppliers and business partners. In other words, rebate management is the application of a formal process that helps companies save money and increase profits while minimizing wasted time and effort.
B2B businesses use rebate management software to keep track of customer rebates, calculate payouts and manage all customer interactions related to their rebates in one place. The best RMSs will also offer features such as automated payment processing, fraud detection and reporting tools.
What is the difference between discounts and rebates?
Rebates and discounts are distinct forms of cost reductions. They are both similar in their goals but differ in form.
What is a discount?
A discount is an amount that is deducted from the original price of a product. It may be offered at the time of purchase or after the fact. Typically, discounts are given to individual customers as rewards for performing specific actions (e.g., purchasing three products X) or incentivizing specific behavior (e.g., 20% off for the first order).
Discounts can be managed as individual promo codes, generic coupon codes, or automatic cart-level discounts that are automatically applied to customers' orders. The value of the discount can come in many forms: percentage, nominal, fixed new price, and others.
Learn more: The ultimate guide to coupon marketing
What is a rebate?
A rebate is a form of cashback or a retrospective payment given to the buying party after the sale. Unlike discounts, rebates are predominantly used in the B2b space as they require a contract and a list of conditions that a company must fulfil in order to claim it. For example, a rebate agreement might state that a company is eligible for a 5% off rebate if it purchases 1000 units of product X within a specific time frame. Rebates are often tiered, making them complex to manage. Consequently, brands need a dedicated rebate management process and software in place.
Where discounts are an immediate incentive to customers, rebates are in it for the long game. The primary goal of rebate agreements is building long-term customer loyalty to encourage business partners to work with you and not your competitors. Unlike discounts, rebates carry little risk of diluting and cheapening your brand image. Another benefit from the brand perspective is that with rebates, customers first need to earn their share before claiming the benefits, which makes rebates much more secure in terms of budget control.
What are the business benefits of using rebate management software (RMS)?
There are several key business benefits of using a rebate management solution for your B2B business, including:
- Improving customer satisfaction by making it easier for them to track and claim rebates.
- Automating repetitive rebate management tasks so your team can focus on more strategic tasks.
- Improving data quality and making it easier to see which business partners are eligible to claim rebates.
- Minimizing fraud by offering built-in fraud detection tools.
- Reducing costs by automating payment processing and cash flow transparency.
What are the most common types of rebate programs?
With a wide variety of rebate deals and incentive programs, finding the right one for your business can be a challenge. Here are the most popular rebate programs to help you get started:
- Volume rebates – this type of rebate program is the most popular among distributors. Volume rebates, similar to tiered promotions, are structured around tiers. If a customer purchases a minimum amount of product, the rebate is enabled. But it doesn't end there – in a nutshell, volume rebates grow with the order volume, incentivizing buyers to purchase more in advance. The volume rebate can be assigned to a customer retrospectively or non-retrospectively – a buyer can either claim a rebate for the entire order or only for the units purchased within a specific tier.
- Up-selling rebates – if you need to move surplus stock, consider running upselling rebates where buyers get extra rebates for every additional product unit they purchase.
- Logistics rebates – selling and shipping products in bulk has plenty of business benefits for the seller. However, from the perspective of the buyer, splitting orders into smaller deliveries may be more beneficial. To encourage buyers to purchase whole pallets instead of individual units, you can offer logistics rebate agreements.
- Cross-selling rebate agreements – high-margin products tend to be more difficult to sell. If you find yourself in a situation where none of your higher-margin products sells, consider running cross-selling incentive programs where distributors get a rebate for buying a mix of high and lower-margin products.
What to look for in a rebate system?
When evaluating different rebate management systems, there are several key factors you should take into account, including:
1. Ease of use
The user interface of the rebate management software should be intuitive and easy to use. It should require minimal training for your team to be up and running with the system.
The rebate management solution should be able to grow with your business. As your business expands, the system should be able to accommodate more users, more customers and more transactions in a clear and predictable manner, with no sudden spikes in pricing.
The system should offer all the features you need to manage your rebate programs effectively. This includes things like automated payment processing, fraud detection, customer self-service portals and real-time reporting.
The system should be able to integrate with your existing enterprise applications, such as your CRM or ERP system. This will make it easier for your team to work with rebate agreements and avoid duplicate data entry. Another thing to pay attention to is the distinction between on-premise and cloud-based rebate systems.
The vendor should offer excellent support in case your sales teams run into any problems with the system. They should be responsive and easy to reach by phone or email. Even better if they offer an extensive self-service mode with remote onboarding and a free trial to train your sales teams at a low cost.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a rebate management system for your B2B business. However, if you keep these key factors in mind, you will be well on your way to finding a system that meets your needs and helps you improve your teams' efficiency, reduce costs, boost revenue and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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