Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

A Mid-Crisis Assessment to Prepare for the New Normal – Driving Performance with Analytics #5

During and after extreme disruption, such as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of doing a performance assessment can be overwhelming. However, taking a microscope to performance in a time of crisis can tell us more about our core underlying capabilities than in a time of stability. Disruptions magnify strengths and weaknesses. Challenges multiply, required response [...]

3 Reasons to Invest in AI Now – Leveraging the Power of AI #19

There are a lot of reasons for distributors to adopt AI. As I explain in previous posts, the technology can help inside and outside sales reps sell more, transform customer service branches into revenue drivers and boost e-commerce performance by double-digit percentage points. At this point, the real question for distributors is not if they should adopt AI, but when. In this post, I’ll [...]

Why a Dynamic RFP Process Makes Sense for Distributors – Automating Your Freight RFP Process #1

The annual, quarterly, seasonal, or mini RFP for many wholesaler-distributors is often considered one of the most important supply chain tasks, but it can take weeks or even months to complete. During this process, distributors invite their most reliable carriers and brokers to provide contracted lane pricing for associated time frames. Distributors are then able to plan by locking in [...]

The 3 Things an Effective Board of Directors Should Never Do – Value Creation Strategy #14

In my last post for the NAW Blog Distributing Ideas, I talked about the importance of having an effective board structure as a foundational element of a sustainable competitive advantage, whether your business is public or private. It’s a rare thing, however, and a great one in a distribution company is an exception. As I outlined, a board has three core responsibilities to [...]

Emerging Business Partners in a Pandemic Economy

In our distribution world, time and cash are two of the most important commodities we have, and yet they can be among the most difficult to balance. Especially now that we are operating our businesses during a global pandemic, where we are being impacted daily with manufacturer delays, inventory shortages, freight regulations and capacity, additional safety protocols and potential economic [...]

Are Your Managers Managing Your Culture? – Distributors in the Digital Era #87

I’ve learned from many distributor leaders that a company’s culture is determined not only by its values, but by the particular employee behaviors that are most aligned with achieving its ideals. A positive, well-managed culture will drive productivity, reinforce customer experiences and enable innovations. A negative culture, however, can kill strategic initiatives and demolish returns [...]

CDP: The Three Letters You Need to Know – Leveraging the Power of AI #18

As distributors look for new ways to connect with customers and boost profitability, they must consider all sorts of three-letter tools: ERPs (enterprise resource planning), CRMs (customer relationship management), MDMs (master data management), MRMs (marketing resource management), and so on. Unfortunately, many of these “solutions” end up causing more problems than they solve. Enter the [...]

3 Steps to Managing Market Shifts with Inventory Analytics – Driving Performance with Analytics #4

The ongoing uncertainty and complexity due to COVID-19 has many longing for the days before it was part of our vocabulary—and our lives. However, the world isn’t likely to revert any time soon. That means distributors need to look forward, assess their new surroundings and reorient. One area that needs strategic adjustment is “demand planning,” which has been greatly disrupted [...]

How to Build a Foundation for Sustainable Competitive Advantage – Value Creation Strategy #13

There is a lot of noise around digital transition, consolidation, manufacturers going direct, Millennials and Gen Z, and a host of other challenges facing distributors. All are important, but without three foundational elements, distributors won’t be able to tackle any of these challenges with any great sustainable impact. Effective Board Governance Over more than 30 years of [...]

Are You Innovating with One Arm Tied Behind Your Back? – Distributors in the Digital Era #86

As some distributor leaders drive their businesses to offer unique customer experiences, enabled by new operating models, they are finding that their company’s traditional knowledge and skills are coming up short. Leading-edge distributors already know this, and so they are competing on continual innovations and embracing the practice of building an innovation ecosystem, which consists of [...]