Allow us to be about the hundredth person to welcome you to the New Year, 2020. Instead of an idle greeting, let’s take just three minutes for serious rumination.
January is a time for thoughtful contemplation, planning and perhaps a resolution or two. Most are led to the practice on a personal basis; mindful of exercise, quality time with family, personal development and the dreaded diet plan.
Forward-thinking distributors make the time to apply similar contemplation to their business lives. Rather than dwell on minutia, the vanguard of our industry avoids the tactical and instead focus on strategic. Their thoughts zero in on seven big picture questions.
In 2020 how will we…
Find ways to make even small steps to answer these questions and your business will grow and prosper. We feel distributor digitalization plays an important role in each of these topics. Let’s take a look.
Easier to do business - The obvious is, orders can be placed anytime, but digitalization does more. Consider the ability to check stock, compare products and easily access the technical specifications. If you can provide a world-class experience, your company will fill the need.
More value for customers – Streamlining internal order flow, pricing exercises and other administrative tasks free your team to create real customer value of the problem-solving variety.
Harder for customers to quit – Setting up customized online catalogs and “customer-specific” product standards improves your customer’s maintenance and spare parts inventory situation. Combine this with embedding your company into the customer’s processes and the cost of leaving becomes too high to consider a competitor.
A better partner for Supply-partners – First, a quality webstore attracts new customers. Further, the webstore allows the distributor to better serve smaller customers; especially those whose volume doesn’t justify a traditional salesperson. Both activities increase market share which is an important part of the distributor/supplier partnership. Secondly, coordinated digital selling activities drive more effective new product launches. Imagine the power of a new product launch where the product was announced to the trade press and appeared on the websites of premier distributors across the country on the same date, as compared to a six-month-long dribble of effort with no coordination.
Competitive advantage – Many distributors feel a move to digitalize their business provides little or no competitive advantage in a market where everyone has a webstore. The competitive advantage comes not in just posting a webstore but in how the site is adopted. Good distributors use digitalized information to improve the professionalism of quotations, project greater expertise via smart selectors and to capture “add-on” sales of auxiliary products. Best in class distributors monitor analytics derived from customer product searches and comparisons to identify product trends and specific customer interests.
Build efficiency in the business - Quotes generated better and faster, repeat orders entered automatically by the customer and product selections done quickly online each improve the productivity of inside sales and technical staff. Extending further, smaller customers can be channeled exclusively to the web-presence eliminating human interaction for all but a few well-thought-out instances. This both improves efficiency and allows better use of the human assets of the business.
Profitable growth – Digitalization interacts and improves other processes within a distributor’s business. Implementing a digitalized system calls for review of pricing procedures, segmentation of customers, ranking of supply partners, marketing strategies and a plethora of other processes sometimes ignored by distributors. Improved process results in greater profitability.
Tell us what you think here.