Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

Don’t Personalize Your B2B E-commerce Site, Contextualize It – Differentiating with Digital Experience #1

Personalization is table stakes for any successful e-commerce website that offers more than a handful of products. As the diversity of products grows and each item becomes more targeted in use, it's not practical to present one's full selection to all customers (i.e., "Results 1-25 of 151,432 products"). It falls to site merchandisers to refine those results and decide which products to present [...]

How AI Can Help Distributors Fix the Persistent Backorder Problem – Leveraging the Power of AI #22

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain linger in 2021. The most visible challenge for distributors has been extended lead times, which means frustrating backorders for customers who need product now — and not three weeks from now. That’s unlikely to change soon. Near the start of the shutdowns in 2020, lead times were up more than 200%, according to the Institute for [...]

Portfolio Management: Distributors’ Advantage Over Amazon – Driving Performance with Analytics #10

Amazon continues to be a disruptive threat to distributors with its massive footprint and unparalleled efficiency. As I watch the industry respond and attempt to adapt to Amazon’s inroads, it reminds me of what I saw while working on Wall Street into the early 2000s. At that time, discount brokers began to use their scale and efficiency to challenge full-service brokers in the same way that [...]

Product Expertise Isn’t Enough for B2B Buyers Anymore – Intelligent Sales & Profit Acceleration #5

It’s no secret that for years most distributors have neglected core sales skills training for their sellers. There are several reasons for this benign neglect of sales skills investment. First, historically, industrial B2B buyers didn’t necessarily need a highly skilled seller. Their purchases were largely needs-driven — not discretionary — and so the core need was product or [...]

How to Do Strategic Planning When Nothing Is Certain – Value Creation Strategy #16

How do you plan when all certainty has gone out the window more than once in the past year? Even with an end to the pandemic in sight, distributors may be looking at their 2020 business plan and wondering if it’s even worth putting a plan together for 2021. It’s tempting to stay light on your feet and be ready to pivot. Despite the uncertainty of the markets, supply chains and customer [...]

Accelerating Organic Growth with Sales Analytics – Intelligent Sales & Profit Acceleration #4

As companies build their plans for growth in this new year, it’s a good time to leverage sales analytics to build actionable sales goals. Sadly, for many distributors, sales planning has historically been anecdotal, intuitive and virtually data-free. Aside from knowing what a customer (or group of customers) bought last year, and then guessing at how that might change this year, there is [...]

Defining the Six Faces of Your Value-Based Pricing Cube – Driving Performance with Analytics #9

Pricing is one of the most complex day-to-day decisions in any business environment, and the distribution industry is no exception. In fact, pricing is the most critical profitability lever for wholesaler-distributors due to their position in the supply chain, ever-increasing competition, and other business forces like commoditization and globalization. The range of variables involved [...]

Do COVID-Savvy Customers Want More Than Online Shopping? – Distributors in the Digital Era #92

It has become a universally accepted truth that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated customer expectations for buying online. Many distributors report a dramatic shift toward customer orders placed on e-commerce platforms. This trend has confirmed what many have said for several years: distributors must invest in modern e-commerce platforms to remain a viable source for meeting customer [...]

Sales Acceleration: Rethinking Seller Roles – Intelligent Sales & Profit Acceleration #3

2020 has been a tough year for most distribution sales teams. In certain markets — such as janitorial and sanitation, HVAC, home improvement and landscaping — shifting consumption patterns have spurred rapid growth. Customers increasingly engage with suppliers through e-commerce, market platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba, and virtual meeting platforms. These new, emerging buyer and [...]

5 Benefits that Prove Customer Stratification Is More than a Sales Tool – Driving Performance with Analytics #8

In our playbook for distributors to SURGE ahead using customer stratification, we outlined ways distributors could segment customers to boost profitability — particularly to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe it is a foundational analytics practice for any distributor. And its applications in the pursuit of profitable growth are almost endless. Customer [...]