BY ANNA WELLS
The results of our tech section survey questions seem to grow more salient over time, as the obvious impacts of the digital age become more evident
to industrial distributors. And while some pioneers are
already on the cutting edge, we oftentimes see a group
who is relatively varied in their progress.
Of course, the biggest discussion points center on
e-commerce – the focus on which seems to be accelerating. Last year, we asked survey takers whether e-commerce was a priority, and 62 percent said yes. This year,
that number has jumped to 69 percent who feel the same.
Aligning with this, 65 percent say they are currently generating web-based revenues, leaving a full third who are
outside of the online game (Figure 2, page 31).
While many companies in this sector have their sights
set on e-commerce as a priority, most do not seem to do a
significant amount of business here. For three quarters of
respondents, the amount of online sales falls within one
to ten percent of their overall revenue (Figure 1). Only 11
percent do more than 20 percent of their business online.
But just as this online marketplace continues to ramp up,
the more online-as-a-percentage-of-sales we’ll likely see.
Just last year, those who said their
web sales were 20 percent or more
of business was just 7. 6 percent,
highlighting a healthy jump this
It’s no surprise then that distributors see “web ordering” as a top
digital business tool, along with
wireless internet and CRM (
customer relationship management)
technology. While these may be
considered the basics of doing
business, about one-third also
use technology like ERP systems,
demand forecasting, and WMS
(warehouse management systems).
For those looking to improve their
tech capabilities in order to streamline business processes, the top areas for investment in the next two
years are web ordering, CRM, WMS,
demand forecasting, and SFA (sales
The technologies that distribu-
tors consider to be ‘high impact’
in terms of business results tend to
fall along the same lines – with web
ordering and CRM at the top. Other
software solutions like WMS and
• 48 percent say they use their websites to house
• 40 percent to generate orders.
• 36 percent for e-commerce.
• 35 percent each to find new customers and to generate leads.
When it comes to site upkeep, the industry could be
How much of your overall sales are web