Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

Mark Dancer

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Help us help the distribution industry by reaching out after you read this Facing the Forces of Change® challenge paper.

Distributors are stepping up to the challenges of our time, and our first-ever Facing the Forces of Change® challenge paper shares essential insights that you can act on now. As NAW and NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow Mark Dancer work on the next Facing the Forces of Change® study, Mark is hearing great stories of distributors working hard to innovate their businesses. Momentum is building, and by sharing our most urgent findings in this challenge paper, we aim to help in real time.

Facing the Forces of Change® is the only major research study to analyze the future of wholesale distribution within multiple lines of trade. As an essential planning guide, Facing the Forces of Change® identifies the major market trends and fundamental shifts in what it takes to stay competitive. By extending our mission to include challenge papers between reports, we commit to helping distributors take action and keep up with change.

There is a growing movement toward wide-spread and game-changing innovations by distributors. The challenge for distributors is to lead, disrupt and help their customers and suppliers to transform and thrive. By doing so, distributors can help define the future of business — all business — by offering innovative business services in the real world even as they fight disruption in the virtual one. Distributors can be leaders in the digital area, but only if they master the forces of change and have a plan for creating innovations and shaping the future of business.

This brand-new challenge paper includes preliminary findings and actionable insights. It is a launching pad for the work of NAW and Mark Dancer in the year ahead, and it is also a template for distributors to follow.

In Part 1, Mark defines “distributor-led innovation” and helps you to reimagine what it means to be a distributor today. He identifies what questions you and your management team must answer to define your approach to channel innovation.

In Part 2, the focus is on mastering the forces of change. Mark asks you to paint your innovations from a palette of three forces — Commerce, Technology and Human Forces, and he once again provides key questions for you and your team to tackle for mastering the forces of change.

In Part 3, Mark provides actionable ideas for you and your team to kick-start your progress by identifying 25 innovation ideas for competing in the digital age.

With this challenge paper, it is NAW’s and Mark Dancer’s commitment to help advance the cause of leadership and innovation by distributors. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to reach out to Mark Dancer at

And, if you’d like to receive updates related to the next Facing the Forces of Change® study, complete and submit this form and we’ll keep you in the loop.


About the Author

Mark Dancer

Mark Dancer founded the Network for Business Innovation to drive awareness, advocacy and excellence for B2B innovation, and to enable an exchange of ideas between leaders on business transformation, technology adoption, social impact and community engagement. For more than 30 years, Mark has worked with leading companies to achieve go-to-market excellence across a wide range of industries in developed and emerging markets.