resources and tools to customers for their everyday lives. We want
them to know they’re important.”
IBC’s website has its own blog section, and director of national
accounts Ted Buck says blogging is a great way for distributors to
connect to their customers.
“It helps to personalize these distributors,” he says. “Sometimes
a blog is about giving back to the community, about an industry
trend, or an award.”
Buck and Linderman say that self-service portals have become
a big trend in industrial distribution, with customers wanting the
ability to track orders through RFID technology, whether through
tablets, phones, laptops, or desktop computers.
“There’s a wealth of information the customer is taking,” Linderman says. “They can run their own reports based on a data field.”
The widespread use of social media isn’t anything new to industrial distributors, but that doesn’t mean everyone utilizes it. Despite
the explosion in distributors adding Facebook pages, or accounts
on Twitter or LinkedIn to further connect with customers, many
independents have yet to jump on the bandwagon. Not that they
refuse to, but because their customers haven’t demanded it.
“We have not seen the desire from the customer base to need
or want the social media side of the business,” Redding says of
Martin. “That’s not our world yet. Like with everything, I think
On the opposite side, Haggard & Stocking is active on Facebook,
Twitter, and LinkedIn, and has used them to interact with custom-
“I’ve seen a lot of questions come through that,” Haggard says.
“Customers will communicate, ‘I saw this on your Facebook/Twit-
ter feed.’ We’ve seen a lot of activity.”
At IBC, Buck and Linderman say they’re always getting calls
from distributors asking how to get off the ground with social
networking: How to get an account started, and how to make
those pages look professional.
At Haggard & Stocking, Haggard says his company has invested
heavily in its information technology department with the growing usage of its website and social media channels — so much so
that it’s the company’s largest growing sector as of late. Haggard’s
philosophy is that for industrial distributors, embracing and utilizing social media will only help.
“Part of social media is telling your story. No one is going to
wave your flag more than you are,” Haggard says. “We need to
communicate the cost savings and service we provide. Part of that
is through social media. It entices people to stay and new ones to
come in. If we don’t use it, we get left behind.”