ufacturer-distributor dynamic since the recession, and that the dynamic is
finally returning to a more stable situation.
The most one-sided question on the entire survey seems to always be
the one about whether or not manufacturers have raised their prices in the
last year. Last year, nearly 97 percent of respondents said that yes — their
manufacturer or supplier had raised prices (Figure 5). This year, 91 percent
of respondents agreed, a good figure to see declining in the survey results.
In order to soften price increases, some manufacturers have been working with their distributors in alternative ways in the past few years. When
allowed to check all that apply, survey respondents reported that co-op
advertising and marketing, new product introductions, and reduced shipping fees or drop shipping options ranked in the top three slots (see Figure
4, page 33).
While co-op advertising and marketing was still the most common way
that manufacturers were tackling this angle, the figure had dropped by
twenty percentage points in the last year to just fewer than 40 percent.
This significant decrease was echoed in the category of technical assistance where respondents said that only 27 percent of suppliers were
assisting them in that way in 2013, compared to 42 percent in 2012. These
two staggering decreases could be a result of the increased prevalence of
individual e-Commerce efforts by distributors.
New product introductions remained in the top three, virtually unchanged
from last year. Overtaking technical assistance were reduced shipping fees
or the option of drop shipping direct to the customer. This, again, could be
indicative of the rise in e-Commerce sales, where shipping direct from larger
warehouses is becoming more and more common as opposed to the majority
of transactions taking place as local branch deliveries by truck.
Rounding out the responses on the survey were extended terms ( 22
percent), easier return policies or no stocking fees ( 13 percent), and lower
prices (ten percent). Respondents also got the chance to write in other
strategies that manufacturers were implementing, and the responses
ranged from “Increased value added resources and assistance” to rebates
or volume discounts. However, the overwhelming amount of write-in responses was “nothing” — indicating that those distributors who weren’t
receiving any kind of give-and-take from manufacturers were those that
were the most vocal about it.
A new question included on the survey this year asked respondents if their
business installed or maintained vending machines at customer locations (
Figure 6). Almost 80 percent answered “no,” and of those that answered “no,”
only fourteen percent indicated an interest in pursuing this in the future.
When asked if their company was exploring global business interests,
the data was almost exactly in line with last year’s results. Last year,
almost six percent of respondents indicated that their business would be
pursuing interests outside of the U.S. in the next three years. This year,
that number is just under five percent. In 2012, the number currently
conducting business external to the U.S. was 51 percent. This year, that
number is just over 52 percent. The number of companies that had conducted business globally in the past but were not now remained virtually
Have your manufacturer-suppliers
increased their prices over the last
Of the following, which best
describes your global business
Have in the past,
but not now
Not now; no