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that infrastructure with a larger staff, which makes
managing all these working parts much more doable.
Smaller organizations may not have the budget or person
power to incorporate something like Oracle or Salesforce
into their operation effectively. It may be impossible to
compete with the capabilities that a larger distributor (or
Amazon) can offer based on an expensive commerce stack.
Instead, small to mid-size distributors need to find the
solution that answers most requirements right out of
the box, with the ability to extend, customize, and adapt
as business grows. There are quite a few good quality,
affordable tech stacks that provide most B2B commerce
needs. Having said that, it’s important to find a robust
commerce solution with native B2B capability that
includes the ability to manage customers’ data. It’s easy to
fall for the idea of CRM-based commerce, but remember
that customer data is often spread across systems,
including the ERP. The real way around this disruptor is to
ignore the CRM-based solutions and focus on technology
that is both built for B2B commerce and can grow with
More and more, we’re seeing manufacturers
demanding digital readiness of their distribution
channels as they face their own disruptions from
changing customer expectations and greater competition.
Manufacturers, for the most part, want to remain loyal
to their channel, but if the channel is not modernizing
their tools they will look elsewhere. The bottom line
is that manufacturers cannot allow the failing of their
distribution channel to risk their brand.
Many manufacturers have tried the “carrot” approach
to encourage distributors to move toward a digital-ready
business model, using friendly encouragement and
frequent messaging. As competitive factors intensity,
more manufacturers will move to using the proverbial
“stick” and mandate digital requirements for their
distributors. Although it may cause some sleepless nights,
this pressure may be just the impetus needed to move the
focus away from traditional processes. In other words,
manufacturer pressure could get the C-suite to buy into
bigger budgets to build a strong B2B hybrid commerce
environment that maximizes the online and offline
experiences. Using these new mandates as a way to gain
more organizational influence for online commerce could
be the political tool distribution commerce managers
have been looking for.
As with any industry impact, these four disruptors—
data, B2C, technology and manufacturers—all can be
transformed into advantages with the right perspective.
The answer is to stay ahead of each of these disruptors in
2019. Focus on that, and it’s likely a distributor will stay
ahead of the competition—and even beat the big guys.
Karie Daudt is the VP of Customer Experience and
Marketing for Insite Software.