7 Types of Rebate Deals and Pricing Strategies for Rebates

7 Types of Rebate Deals and Pricing Strategies for Rebates

In our dealings with businesses who have to manage complex rebate deals we have come across over 300 different types of deal… and we've mapped all of those options into our rebate management software.

Whilst it is important to have all those deal types to give ultimate flexibility, we thought it would be fun to share our round-up of the top 7 most popular types of rebate deals. Ready?

Types of rebate deals

1 — Product launches

When introducing new products, it is common to link spend on the new range to discounts on regular purchases.

For example, a supplier might offer an extra 1% discount across the entire product range in exchange for a spend of $x on the new product. This type of deal is also a great way to move people from placing the same ‘regular’ order month in month out.

For the company who wants to stock the latest products anyway, this deal is enticing. Until, that is, it comes to reconciling money spent on one range with discounts achieved on another. Most standard purchasing systems can't help with this, but unless accurate records are kept the deal can fail to be realized.

2 — Growth incentives

Where the supplier is keen to increase the total volume not just the individual order volume, a rebate based on incremental growth in orders is often used.

This could take the form of a year on year target, with a supplier rebate applying if the purchased volume exceeds the growth baseline. That in itself can cause problems for buying groups or multi-branch operations who sometimes find it difficult to aggregate the total spend by product line from the previous year.

3 — End of life promotions

As old versions are being phased out, suppliers might plan to ship as much of the remaining stock as possible before the new version appears. This is sometimes achieved through extra volume discounts on the old lines. The same thing happens with changes to packaging design -- buyers are encouraged through specific time-based discounts to shift quantities of the old design before the new one is released.

4 — Product mix incentives

To encourage buying groups and distributors to make purchases across a range of products, suppliers might provide a rebate based on total spend over a period. Where the buyer usually buys only a few lines, this incentive is used to try to switch them away from other suppliers for other product lines.

Suppose you supply veterinary products and a buying group buys only medicines from you, and tends to get pet toys and accessories from elsewhere. The buying group may have a relatively fixed demand for your medicines, and therefore little in the way of negotiating power. However, by offering a reduction if they include other product lines into the mix, they get a discount on their medicine purchases and the supplier gets larger orders across the whole product range.

5 — Central distribution centre rebates

In order to cut logistics costs, some suppliers prefer to deliver to a central distribution centre (CDC). This leaves the buyer with the cost and task of distributing to their branches / buyers from their CDCs. For those companies who have existing transportation routes between their CDC and branches anyway, this can be an attractive proposition.

In these cases, whilst the purchasing company isn't adding too much to their own costs by agreeing to ship from their CDC to branches, they can benefit from the discounts offered. In fact, we know of at least one case where the total value of central distribution centre rebates funds their own transportation division!

6 — Marketing funds

Whilst these are not rebates per se, the provision of marketing funds conditional upon actually carrying out the marketing activity does impact financial reporting and needs to be accounted for -- usually because the promised funds need to be accrued and claimed for after the event has taken place. The difficulty is that most purchasing systems don't provide the means to collate all the evidence that is needed for a claim.

Want to know more? We've blogged previously about how MDF funds work.

7 — Conditional discounts

Any number of conditions could be applied to drive purchase decisions in support of the suppliers' commercial and financial goals. Some examples include:

  1. A volume discount across all products.
  3. A rebate on a product range, provided the volume purchased exceed x in y months.
  5. A discount on one product range dependent on purchases of another. If you buy x of these you will get a discount of y off those.


So there you have it. We've listed our top 7 types of rebate deal, but as mentioned earlier we have actually mapped out over 300 different types of deal in our software to help suppliers and customers alike to record and manage rebate contracts.

More on rebate deals

What is a rebate program?

Rebate programs including vendor rebates, customer rebates, volume pricing, retrospective discounts and the like are a way of giving individual customers the ‘right price’ without driving the price downwards.

In our experience, any single contract can have multiple deals within it, and each of them needs to be monitored, measured and of course accounted for correctly. The rebate earned would then be claimed by generating a rebate invoice or credit note which comprises some details of the rebate program and the amount owed.

Rebate programs are essential to operations in various industries including building supplies, electronics, retail, and wholesale distribution and can be offered to certain locations, on certain products or product groups and on certain types of transaction. This means that they can get rather complex, which begs the question, if they are so complicated then why do all these industries need rebate programs in the first place?

Why do manufacturers give rebates?

Let's suppose you supply bathroom suites to building supplies companies. If you simply lower your price to become more attractive, one of two things could happen:

  • All your other customers will expect the same (lower price), and/or;
  • Your competitors will react by lowering their prices thus creating a downward spiralling price war.

Either option impacts profit margins for both you and the building supplies companies.

So, the answer is often found in clever pricing strategies that seek to reward those who sell more by giving them the best margins. The business reasoning stands up -- those who sell more cost proportionately less to service (sales time, logistics costs, admin costs), and those who help the manufacturer to be in a position to produce more are therefore contributing towards economies of scale in production and shipping costs too.

What is an example of an incentive rebate?

A more complex example of a rebate can be used to encourage buying groups and distributors to make purchases across a range of products where they would usually only buy a few. This incentive is used to try and switch them away from competitors for purchases other product lines.

Another example could be a tiered growth-based rebate where the rebate earnings due to be paid are calculated via various incremental targets based on a growth rate on top of last year's turnover.

David Hunt

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