In a recent issue of the McKinseyQuarterly there was a nice article on channel design. The authors insist that carefully tailored "routes to market" can become important sources of differentiation.
This is exactly what I outline in a part of my dissertation on business models. Additionally, I describe how channels can be better designed by using a conceptual approach. Such a conceptual approach has the double advantage of creating a visualization of a company's channel architecture making it easy to understand and it helps defining indiciators to understand channel profitability.
The article mentioned above unerlines my point. It demonstrates that by carefully designing its channel strategy a company can can reduce its sales and service costs, increase its revenue per customer, and penetrate underserved segments by guiding customers to the most appropriate channels.
On eventual tools to implement a channel strategy the article falls short. But then again, if it would mention some tools I could not advocate the concepts and tools I propose...