5 Distribution Trends to Watch in 2017

Submitted on: Mon, 12.05.2016 08:31pm - Annie Eissler |
5 Distribution Trends to Watch in 2017

Ah, it’s that time of the year again. Time to assess how business went over the last 12 months, batten down the hatches for the holiday season, and look ahead to what’s coming around the next corner in 2017. Here are five key trends that all wholesale distributors should keep an eye on during the year ahead:

  1. The distribution environment continues to evolve and change. This probably won’t come as a surprise for any seasoned distributor, but your business environment has been evolving and it’s probably not going to settle into a pattern anytime soon. Much like the days of delivering a supplier’s products to retail customers as a sole source of business are long gone, even the processes and systems your firm used in 2015 have since been upgraded, changed, or switched out completely. Expect more of this in 2017 as distributors focus on improving efficiencies, cutting costs, and exploring new opportunities.
  2. New forces continue to disrupt the distribution business model. “The wholesale distribution industry is at a watershed moment,” writes NAW’s Paul St. Germain in Wholesales Distribution at a Watershed Moment “Technological advances are creating massive upheavals, with industries converging, new forms of competition surfacing, and new business models emerging as never before.” St. Germain says the successful wholesaler distributors will be the ones that position their organizations to prosper in this disruptive age—a time when they’re being bombarded by forces threatening to disrupt the way they conduct daily operations, serve customers, and interact with suppliers.
  3. The “Amazons” of the world aren’t going away. When Amazon stepped up its business-to-business selling game this past year, a lot of companies that weren’t selling online (or, that weren’t selling that much via the online channel) sat up and took notice. And while some distributors feel that e-tailers can’t match the close, personal, service-oriented approach that they take with their customers, many of those buyers may feel differently as buying online becomes even easier, cheaper, and streamlined. Distributors that take the time to understand these changes and put time and effort into their online selling channels will come out the likely winners in 2017.
  4. New opportunities abound for enterprising distributors. Although these are challenging times, St. Germain writes, the level of change occurring in the marketplace now is providing new business opportunities as well. New online businesses continue to reshape customer and service expectations, and as those expectations transition to the B2B world, forward-thinking wholesaler-distributors are finding ways to adopt and adapt those models to meet changing market needs. “Perhaps the greatest opportunity in all of this is the chance to become the disrupter,” St. Germain suggests, “a role both large and small distributors can fill in their respective markets, initiating disruption to the status quo.”
  5. Technology will reign as a business enabler for distributors of all sizes. As more and more distributors realize the importance of data-driven business decisions, expect a growing number of them to invest in new and replacement technology platforms to help them achieve their business goals.  Those firms that are still using older software systems, for example, will seek out solutions that provide relevant and timely information. Equipped with these state-of-the-art systems, distributors will gain access to real-time information across all departments (including the road warrior salesperson who needs quick access to updated pricing, product availability, and customer information) and the ability to serve their customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.

​Here at MITS, we’ve been helping distributors use the data in their systems to make better decisions since 1996. From the types of reports you run to the data that’s in those reports, MITS Distributor Analytics gives you the answers and insight you need to take action. Please contact us today to learn more.