Holiday Classic: An Open Letter to the Sons and Daughters of Distribution – Distributors in the Digital Era #91
Last year, I suggested a holiday conversation about the future of distribution as distributor families gather for Thanksgiving. Our idea was that distributors’ sons and daughters, whether they work in distribution or elsewhere, can share vital insights. With the ongoing pandemic, this year’s conversations are even more critical. If you would like to share your conversations, please reach out at email@example.com
This blog post is for the sons and daughters of distributors; it is food for thought for your Thanksgiving gatherings! Please help this go viral by sharing it on social media or any way you can! Use our hashtags #b2binnovation #innovatetodominate #distributorsrock
The threat of disruption and the opportunity for digital transformation are coming to distribution. The battle is already underway, and distribution needs your help. Distributors are aware of the challenge, and many are putting up modern e-commerce platforms and exploring the use of digital tools. But more is needed—and you can help!
Today’s change is different from change in the past. Over the last decades, distributors battled successfully against big-box retailers, global competition, disintermediation and more. There were winners and losers. But, the pace of change was modest compared to today, and new customer experiences were mostly about optimizing traditional offerings. Change was not game-changing.
Change today is different. Disruptors seek to reinvent the way that markets work by creating new platforms for customers to make purchases and then shifting commerce away from the value chain. Disruptors compete on new capabilities and new business rules that they invent. They collect massive amounts of data and invest heavily in artificial intelligence and robotic automation. New generations of customers welcome these experiences and wonder why distributors are stuck in the past.
Here is how you can help: Share your ideas, experiences and passions about the future of business with your family. You understand traditional distributor values and practices, because you were raised around the family business. You live the values and expectations of today, because you are of the modern digital age. This is how you can help your family’s business transition from the old to the new. You can create change.
And so, I suggest a few topics for conversations around the Thanksgiving dinner table or a chat while watching football or streaming a show:
- How is work done in your workplace, and how is that different from at a distributor?
- How do you learn what you need to know for your job, and is it different from distributor training methods?
- Are the differences due to the use of digital and virtual methods, or is the management practices culture different where you work?
- How does all of this add up to how your business acquires products and services, and the expectations for the customer experiences offered by your suppliers?
Innovate to Dominate: The 12th Edition in the Facing the Forces of Change® Series is a roadmap for distributor innovation. Every chapter addresses a piece of the puzzle to “connect the dots” between trends and progress. More than that, we intend Innovate to Dominate to help start conversations about the future of business and a journey for distributors to follow.
As a Fellow for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, I am committed to helping distributors set the standard for B2B innovation. I seek to support every distributor’s efforts to survive and thrive. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t already, I hope you will order your copies of Innovate to Dominate and use it with your team as an essential tool and roadmap for your company innovations. It will help you plan and track your journey and progress.