way than the traditional model. Our industry must embrace this trend and give
customers what they want: quicker and
easier ways to order and receive their
Barfell: Consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions of small to mid-size distributors
has certainly changed things up. And the
expectation for a very broad product mix
from a single supplier providing immediate access to those items — accompanied
by a robust e-Commerce interface — are
all part of today’s competitive landscape.
Industrial Distribution: Which trends do you think will gain
Director of INCOM
momentum? Which ones do you think will slack off?
Bailey: Technology and e-Commerce are here to stay and will
continue to grow. Some distributors are already providing solutions by viewing problems through a video connection. This is just
the beginning. The e-Commerce trend will be commonplace, but
will not replace the customers’ desire for service and solutions. National accounts will receive less and less focus as the lack of service
frustrates the end users.
Woodward: At Alliance, the trends we see gaining momentum
are industry consolidation and transaction-centric selling (internet,
e-commerce, vending). We believe in the next ten years, thousands of vendors, distributors, and wholesalers will consolidate.
Companies will have to get bigger to survive. The shift to transaction-focused selling is also going to be a matter of survival. To
help distributors, manufacturers and master distributors will also
need systems that speed the order and fulfillment processes. Well-defined e-Commerce and transaction-focused models will soon be
essential to surviving in our changing marketplace.
Barfell: We believe there are clear trends that are gaining
momentum in our industry: consolidation, product expansion, e-commerce initiatives, improved inventory management, and sales
productivity. The traditional outside sales force will consolidate
and become more specific to the industries and market segments,
requiring a superior skill level and advanced technical knowledge
to be successful. In reaction to large, broad line suppliers, local
independent suppliers will need to provide niche services and
products to fill the gap left by nationwide and global distributors. With the growth and user comfort level with e-Commerce,
it seems inevitable that there will be less and less reliance on
printed sales collateral.
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