In the distribution space, “transform or die” has become the rallying cry of industry analysts and business leaders alike. Digital transformation — unlocking the power of digital technology to make distributors more proactive in meeting customer needs, more agile in response to market changes, and more capable of delivering a superior customer experience — is a priority for distributors in all verticals. Whatever industry they serve, distribution leaders face the question: Where to focus?
Digitization is ultimately aimed at enabling distributors to enhance the customer experience and build their competitive advantage. However, many initiatives fail to effect the level of change necessary. These failures can stem from a lack of clarity and alignment on which processes should be priorities for digitization, a lack of measurable impact, and/or KPIs that fail to accurately evaluate impact. This leaves many distributors no better equipped to serve their customers than they were before these time-consuming and expensive digitization projects.
Forrester reports that distributors struggle to embrace this strategic shift because their tools and processes are unable to provide smooth, consistent, and customized experiences for buyers across all channels. Distributors need a data-informed end-to-end sales strategy that allows them to provide customized offers, improve the buying experience, and maximize revenue — despite narrow margins. Analog processes and Excel spreadsheets can’t provide the instant, accurate pricing and seamless buying experience that distribution customers have come to expect.
In this industry brief, we lay out the challenges today’s distributors face and how they can meet those challenges by transforming their end-to-end sales process with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning capabilities.
10 Things You’ll Find in This Industry Brief
- The impact of narrow margins and volatile prices on distributors
- Why distributors haven’t seen the ROI they expected from digitization initiatives
- The new competitors and new buyers of distributors
- How to deliver an exceptional customer experience
- What the role of AI is in better understanding customer needs
- What a successful digital transformation framework looks like
- What it means to transform the end-to-end sales process
- How industrial equipment and building product distributors identified and closed margin leaks
- How a global electronics distributor improved gross margin by 310 basis points
- How a food service distributor doubled sales in several accounts