Wholesale Distributors Are Reinventing Themselves with a Digital Strategy
(3 minute read)
The current pandemic has presented serious challenges for the wholesale distribution industry, disrupting value chains in unprecedented ways. But within that disruption lies the opportunity to move forward stronger than before.
Some distributors are experiencing a surge in demand that stretches them to find inventory for their customers. For other distributors, demand has essentially dried up, and they need to be creative. As a result, wholesale distribution companies will need to assess how to best measure shifts in customer behavior, address supply chain disruptions, and manage workforce constraints in the short, mid, and longer term.
This may also be the opportunity for distributors to reinvent themselves, adapting business models to better serve customers and keep the economy flowing with goods. To do this, distributors will need to invest in a digital strategy that provides both stability and long-term reliability for core processes, while allowing for flexibility in areas where change is happening on a constant basis.
Challenges and Opportunities in the ‘New Normal’
Although most businesses had some type of digital transformation initiative in place before the pandemic, many found themselves unprepared to deal with rapid change. This fact became glaringly obvious in the current environment, shining a harsh light on processes and technology that need to be improved.
In the case of the wholesale distribution industry, the current situation is forcing distributors to deal with several challenges that can also become opportunities for future growth.
- Supply chain planning and execution: Wholesale distributors are looking for ways to improve visibility across the entire supply chain, protect customer relationships and build stronger supply chain resilience in the long term.
- Outdated legacy systems: The traditional channels used by wholesale distributors have been severely impacted and, in some cases, are broken. Updating the technology infrastructure will open the door to automating the quote and proposal process, delivering better customer service, strengthening e-commerce capabilities, and providing the insights needed for better decision-making.
- Financial risk mitigation: In many cases, distributors are utilizing significant resources to ensure product availability, critical operations and responsiveness, with very little insight into the expenses associated with those efforts. By providing one common view of financial data, with the ability to simulate and analyze, the business can better evaluate the financial implications of strategic business decisions.
- Value-added services: Wholesale distributors have been providing value-added services for years, many of which are free of charge. With increasing competition in the marketplace, distributors need to take these value-added services to the next level, using them to significantly increase revenue and bottom-line profitability.
- Talent management: The hallmark of many wholesale distributors has been the deep expertise of their customer service representatives, but they are now struggling to harvest that experience and knowledge for the next generation of workers. Distributors need to arm the workforce for success, with easy access to the information and tools that can help them to be more responsive, more productive, and to discover new and better ways of doing business.
It’s Time to Rethink Digital Transformation
It’s not surprising that companies that were further along the path toward digital transformation are adapting to the crisis better than their peers. The changes made to their business models and working processes allowed them to pivot more rapidly or accelerate changes already underway.
But taking on large-scale transformation projects no longer makes sense in the current climate of uncertainty, where no one can see far enough ahead to make long-term plans. Wholesale distributors need a new approach that will make their transformation efforts fast, flexible and forgiving.
This new approach is Digital Transformation as a Service (DTaaS). No matter what your business opportunities may be, NTT DATA Business Solutions has an approach that allows your business to capitalize on new opportunities without a massive capital investment, and with the ability to pivot and refocus as business conditions evolve.
- A dynamic technology roadmap to plot your course
- A flexible delivery model so you can pivot, as needed
- Subscription pricing – simple, easy, affordable
This new approach can help you break down barriers so your business can continue to grow – even in these uncertain times.
For more information about how wholesale distributors can rethink their digital strategies, I encourage you to download our e-book, Rethinking Digital Transformation for the Wholesale Distribution Industry.