Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

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

Traditionally, one of the most important benefits distributors have offered customers is quick access to a wide assortment of products. How times have changed. Today, many customers start product searches online. Customers have the ability to find the product somewhere other than from a distributor. Two factors have driven this change. With few exceptions, many brands and products that distributors carry are now stocked by online marketplaces. Most distributors are not as skilled as they need to be with e-commerce and SEO, so customers who are searching online for products will find them elsewhere instead.

What else is transforming the wholesale distribution landscape?

Influx of Competitors. A growing number of leading companies are building marketplaces that carry B2B products. This huge influx of competition and capital is likely to drive industry consolidation, raise performance requirements and fundamentally transform customer expectations. Are you taking this into account as you develop your business strategy? How will you differentiate when virtually everything you sell is available from multiple sources and can be delivered in a day or less?

Artificial Intelligence. B2B customers will increasingly rely on alternative ordering methods — shopping and buying without a keyboard or a computer screen. How will you fight market share erosion as customers adopt these purchasing methods?

3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing). 3D printing or “additive” manufacturing is fundamentally changing how many products are made. Some theorists believe this will result in much more distributed (and closer to the customer) manufacturing. Others argue that many products distributors carry today will simply be made by the customer utilizing their own 3D printers. What is the risk to distribution? Or is this an opportunity for distributors to add 3D printing as a service — which might help customers but, potentially, alienate suppliers.

What Does This Mean for Distributors? We are entering a period of time in which some distributors will develop successful marketplace strategies, form new methods of differentiation and survive through the turbulence. Many other distributors will fail to respond — or make the wrong decisions — and will either get acquired by smarter, faster competitors, or they will go out of business.

What Should Distributors Do? This is the time to learn how these technology trends will combine to transform the landscape of wholesale distribution. Participate in this comprehensive series of 7 Research Reports and 7 corresponding Webinars that follow the theme, “How Technology Will Transform Wholesale Distribution.” NAW’s partners on this compelling project are Ian Heller and Jonathan Bein of Distribution Strategy Group.

Each month from July 2020 through January 2021, NAW will post one Research Report here and follow it up with a Webinar in the same month. Driven by research conducted with wholesaler-distributors, manufacturers and distributor customers, each Research Report and Webinar will provide the intelligence you need to formulate new strategies and ensure that your company thrives through this era of technology disruption and transformation. To get started, click on the buttons below.

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