The future of wholesale distribution is here. The challenges of the last few years can lead to opportunities for growth and innovation in the industry.
During these first years of the 2020s, the world has become a new place and has thrown unexpected changes and challenges at the wholesale distribution industry—from the pandemic to dysfunctional supply chains and beyond. Working to remain competitive in this environment, many distributors have made the difficult decision to significantly revise their business processes.
But the good news is that every change, though disruptive and likely unnerving, is also an opportunity to make your business more dynamic, resilient, and efficient. It’s a chance to prepare your teams and operations for long-term success in the future of wholesale distribution, when the pressing headlines of today are in the history books of tomorrow.
In the following sections, we’ll talk about some ways your wholesale distribution business can excel, despite the disruptions surrounding it.
While omnichannel distribution methods existed prior to 2020, their use and importance have skyrocketed since the initial COVID-19 lockdowns. Not too long ago, providing digital transaction options to customers and suppliers was just considered a nice feature. Now, it’s essential. Virtual distribution has rapidly become a huge part of the future of wholesale distribution.
According to a recent article, “Virtual distribution can be subdivided into two forms: selling a digital service (vs. a physical product) and delivering a physical product through a virtual channel (like an eCommerce platform).” For wholesale distribution businesses that buy and sell physical goods, combining virtual and traditional distribution methods into a high-quality omnichannel experience is a promising, balanced way forward. This approach, especially when tackled with a robust eCommerce software system, will give you the freedom to interact with customers and suppliers in different ways, according to their preferences. And this, as Debra says, “creates a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ reality.”
As the wholesale distribution industry becomes increasingly data-driven, businesses must prioritise company-wide connection and interdepartmental information exchange. This is especially important in today’s context, with the rapidly changing dynamics of international events, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical upheaval.
If your teams are not connected, your data is siloed in applications that can’t communicate with each other, and you can never be sure if the data you’re using is accurate and identical across departments—then you have a problem. This kind of poor communication will waste critical resources and lead to increased errors and downtime.
But, with a business management system to integrate workflows, company-wide data can be shared automatically and updated in real time. This will enhance information visibility and business intelligence, while helping leaders make more informed decisions.
The data revolution has transformed every industry, and wholesale distribution businesses are certainly not immune. They can now track and analyze an unprecedented amount of data—interactions with customers, conditions of shipments and products, changing market variables, regulation revisions, etc.
When wholesale distribution businesses unleash the power of data analytics across their organizations, they are better able to discover insights that are, not only enlightening, but also truly actionable for teams, departments, and business leaders.
While the past few years have unequivocally shown what unique demands and disruptions can come to international businesses, it is equally clear that globalization is necessary. So, for wholesale distribution businesses to remain successful, they will need to embrace both the local and the global.
Maintaining a local focus can help your company move forward, balancing on a solid base of geographically close customers and suppliers. Such proximity to a stable base can keep operations from slowing too much or grinding to a complete halt. At the same time, remaining connected to the global economy is just as crucial. Broadening the customer and supplier base means that, though your company may be rocked by waves of disruption, those waves will not easily shift all of your footing at once.
Still, despite the changes today’s world has brought, the future of wholesale distribution depends on what it has always depended on: the customer. A recent Deloitte analysis puts it this way.
Distributors of the future should…understand that effectively engaging customers’ demands true innovation in executing the value chain. Traditional approaches to inventory, logistics, pricing, rebates, and network can be reimagined through the application of advanced analytics and technology innovations.
This is where a robust business management system—like Acumatica—can step in.
Acumatica Distribution Edition is a complete, connected solution for today’s wholesale distribution companies. Its award-winning cloud ERP platform automates and simplifies distribution operations, all while meeting industry-specific security and compliance standards.
Contact Acumatica experts, TRC Solutions today with any questions. Or ask them to schedule a demonstration, so we can show you how Acumatica will prepare your business for success in the future of wholesale distribution.