Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

A Second NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Breakthrough Research Series of 7 Research Reports and 7 Corresponding Webinars in Partnership with Ian Heller and Jonathan Bein

In 2020, NAW and partners Ian Heller and Jonathan Bein brought you the seven-part series, How Technology Will Transform Wholesale Distribution. We explored the forces disrupting the industry, such as artificial intelligence, marketplaces and new, outside entrants. We also investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the wholesale distribution industry. Along the way, we found evidence of channel shift — from offline to online, but also from traditional distributors to more digitally capable disruptors such as retailers.

In 2021, we turn our attention from describing the problem to prescribing solutions. Once again, we will conduct research, such as surveys with distributors, and with their customers and suppliers. However, instead of scoping and defining the challenge, we will look for innovative ways to differentiate from the disruptors in this year’s seven-part series. Each part includes a free research report to download and an accompanying webinar to watch live and also on demand.

The research we conduct in 2021 will drive the content we produce. We’ll revisit the forces unleashed by the pandemic. Some of the important questions we’ll tackle include:

  • Can we sort differentiation strategies into logical categories?
  • How should distributors differentiate based on their business model (branch and sales centric, digital/DC driven, etc.)
  • How should distributors differentiate based on industry (MRO, building products, etc.)?
  • Which distributors have already built wide “moats” around their businesses and what can we learn from them?
  • What are the long-term implications of the pandemic on wholesale distribution?

Our goal in 2021 is to ensure that distributors who participate in this series — from completing surveys, to reading the research reports and calling in to live webinars to listen and ask questions — fully understand the challenges facing the wholesale distribution industry over the next decade. More importantly, this series will help to arm distributors with new modes of thinking along with information that can help them build robust strategies with staying power.

Please contribute your thinking along the way and give us feedback as you read the research reports and attend the webinars. Sign up below to be sure you’re included in the discussion.

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