Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2017 - 9
Here's the thing about our experience
with these lights - the manufacturer
didn't need those intermediaries, and the
friction they introduced to serve their
target market was a deal killer. We found
the lights on the manufacturer's website
via the online PDF catalog. If the manufacturer had a simple e-commerce site
instead of the PDF catalog, we could have
easily placed the order. Our order could
have hit the production management system of the manufacturer to get queued
This approach doesn't make sense for
every manufacturer nor for every product. It works great when products are
easy to understand and details can easily be communicated on a website. Also,
purchasing needs to be rather straightforward and customization is contained.
Finally, expectations about production
and delivery can be accurately managed
ahead of and throughout the purchase
and delivery process.
IF IT'S THIS EASY FOR
So far, we've approached this from the
perspective of the manufacturer, which
should make wholesalers very concerned.
Look how easily manufacturers can directly serve their customers and how customers may prefer that experience over
dealing with intermediaries. Forget about
customers staying loyal just because of
the "relationship" they have with you. For
products most likely to be consumed via
e-commerce, the relationship won't make
up for the increased friction.
However, if you move quickly, wholesalers could easily own this value-building activity instead of conceding it to
manufacturers. By establishing their
own e-commerce portal and integrating
their own inventory with the expanded
universe available via distributors and
manufacturers, they could create a deep,
attractive market for manufacturers and
their consumers (both businesses and
individuals). Amazon, naturally, has taken steps to do just that - first with Amazon Supply in 2012, and now with Amazon Business.
Perhaps you think your target market
and all the intermediaries in your value
chain understand how this really works,
and aren't bothered by the friction. Maybe I need to trot out the list of companies
who ignored the signs of change and are
now shells of their past selves, or ended
up shutting their doors. Alternatively,
perhaps you see the opportunity in these
increased expectations and are going to
become the case study your peers emulate instead of the cautionary tale where
people shake their heads.q
ALWAYS MAKE THINGS EASIER
up, which could have been done at a lower cost to the manufacturer with significantly less friction for the buyer (us).
That very same e-commerce portal
could also support wholesalers and distributors by using simple, role-based
permissions driven off the login. These
credentials could unlock special features,
pricing, terms, etc. It's really straightforward for most e-commerce sites. It's an
idea worth exploring as there are some
great advantages to this kind of approach:
A single interface to maintain, reducing management costs and creating a single point of truth.
The ability to deepen relationships
with role- and individual-based pricing and terms facilitated through the
credentials in the portal.
q The opportunity to increase sales by
expanding your potential market by
opening inventory directly to consumers as well as decreasing friction
increased our order size to break the
threshold, but still couldn't find out what
the freight cost would be.
In what world is it acceptable that in
2016 and 2017 a potential buyer can't
easily learn basic terms of sale such as a
minimum order value and freight/shipping costs?
This experience is a great, but terrible,
example of how the frictionless world
Amazon has created makes the intermediary-laden purchasing processes of B2B distribution feel archaic. We're all consumers
outside of work and therefore Amazon's
experience is shaping all our expectations
for purchasing anything and everything. If
Amazon can guarantee me 2-day shipping
on pretty much everything under the sun,
you can at least tell me I have a minimum
order to place and what the freight cost
will be before I place my order.
Justin Yopp is a marketing strategist at The
Pedowitz Group. He helps organizations
accelerate beyond best practices to quicker
positive ROI, increase internal buy-in and
adoption, and capture more market mindshare. Follow him on Twitter at @j_yopp or
connect with him on LinkedIn at
Spring 2017 www.wdimagazine.com