The traditional distribution market has been for many years a handshake-and-cup-of-coffee type of business focused mainly on relationships. But today, online selling is inevitable. The shift from the traditional old model to the new is a major paradigm shift in the industry that is just starting to keep pace with the rest of the online, technologically dominated world in which we currently live.
As evidenced by the prior discussion of Grainger.com, where an entire distributor catalog is available from a website that not only facilitates product ordering, but also makes valuable information accessible. For now, online selling is the realm of the larger distributors and distributor groups; however, the ease of online implementation and efficiency of gaining sales from an ever more technology-savvy audience means that even smaller players can shift more of their business transactions and communications to the electronic realm. And it has become even more crucial to staying relevant in a changing marketplace.
Coinciding with the move toward online selling is the increase in direct selling from manufacturers to end users. A number of building products manufacturers are testing this direct selling carefully so as not to disturb the delicate balance between the distributors that have been with them and been the core of their business for years, but understanding that in order to stay competitive, they need to dip their toe into the waters of online selling. One technique involves the use of a conversion tool on the manufacturer’s website into which end users can plug the item number of a currently used product of a competitor and receive back equivalent options made by the manufacturer, making it easy to switch brands and drive conversion of preference.
And, manufacturers who use their web presence as a means for lead generation is not only seeing an increase, but becoming a vital part of the selling process. Many manufacturers will share these leads with their distribution partners in an effort to collaboratively close the sale, and get the building products into the hands of end users. If a distributor can help close these sales leads, and if they can efficiently integrate with a manufacturers’ system, they will find that they have a grand ally to approach their customers – and as we well know, in this day and age, the customer truly is king, allowing or disallowing information to be pulled through or not.
Want to learn more about the shifting paradigm in distributor? Read our latest white paper, Breaking Through The New Distribution Model.
Image courtesy of geograph.uk.org
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