Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

Chairman’s Column: Talent and Culture Have to Be a Competitive Advantage

I can’t imagine a situation where a company would not say that the key to its business is its talent, and that culture is a real company strength. This would be a little like any of us starting our conversation by saying that our service is bad. The reality is that no matter what the real facts are or what our customers really think, all of us who run distribution businesses generally feel [...]

Success Requires New Digitally Enabled Behaviors – Distributors in the Digital Era #37

More and more, I find that developing a capability plan for new digital competencies and business processes is a critical responsibility for distributor leaders. Many leaders still have much to learn about digital technology and the advantages it can create for their business. To reach the ultimate success from using digital tools requires that distributors employ people with new knowledge and [...]

Going Beyond the Basics of Digital Innovation – Distributors in the Digital Era #36

I am having many new conversations with distributor leaders now that my new research report, CEO Insights on Innovating the Distributor in the Digital Age, is published. This is always the case. I gather insights from many distributors as I research and write a new report, and then the report creates new discussions—some confirm my findings and others push my understanding deeper or in new [...]

Is Stress Impeding Your Ability to Drive Digital Change? – Distributors in the Digital Era #35

Competing in the digital age requires distributors to have the right mindset about technology, opportunities and threats. Leaders and their teams must be able to embrace change, push their companies forward and still remain faithful to their customers and employees. On one hand, if one pushes too hard, it is possible to drive change too fast and then negatively impact the business. On the other [...]

Do You Have a Digital Partnership with Your Suppliers? – Distributors in the Digital Era #34

Just as digital tools change the way that customers seek knowledge, make decisions and acquire products, so too will they change the way that manufacturers make plans to build awareness, strengthen their brands and design their channel programs and strategies. In my conversations with manufacturers, I find that their perception about the role of distributors in the marketplace and their [...]

Are You Ready to Lead in the Digital Age? – Distributors in the Digital Era #33

In my work with business leaders, I have found that success can be a trap. Leaders reach the top of their organizations by being successful, and they tend to equate the success of their business with their own knowledge and skills. This is undoubtedly true, but it is also a problem during periods when the factors that define a market and the business models that exist within it are undergoing [...]

The Top Measure of CEO Success Is Developing Capabilities – Distributors in the Digital Era #32

Building strong digital capabilities is the best result that distributor CEOs can accomplish for their companies. While the future of customer buying habits, the impact of disruption in distribution-intensive value chains, and the actions of manufacturers cannot be predicted with certainty, distributor CEOs can put concrete programs in place to strengthen their digital capabilities. Combined with [...]

What Do Customers Want from a Digital Distributor? – Distributors in the Digital Era #31

Since my last blog post, I’ve had a few conversations with contractors that buy building products from distributors. They’ve yielded insights that resonated with my ongoing research as a Fellow with the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence. They point to a few questions that all distributors should be asking of their customers as an input to their digital vision and plans for adopting [...]

NAW-You Can’t Beat Amazon by Acting Alone-Distributors in the Digital Era #30

You Can’t Beat Amazon by Acting Alone – Distributors in the Digital Era #30

I’m looking for ideas, questions, failures and stories about how distributors might compete in the digital age, defend their turf against disruptors like Amazon and offer customers new, innovative services. If you have any thoughts, please share them with me. My goal is to kick-start an active discussion of ideas among distributors and bring in innovation expertise to help distributors move [...]

NAW-Chairman’s Column: “Technology – Our Friend and Competitor”

Chairman’s Column: Technology – Our Friend and Competitor

I don’t think there is a distributor in the world who doesn’t think that technology is affecting their business and is something they have to address and embrace. I would also suggest that most distributors would say that they must have a specific technology strategy and invest more in this area than ever before, with even bigger investments planned in the future. We all understand that we [...]