The National Association of Wholesale Distributors (NAW) has focused a lot on changes in the digital environment for wholesale distributors over the last year.  This included a seven-part webinar series, which one of our previous blogs touched on.  The culmination of the research studies and webinar series was a white paper prepared in conjunction with IQ Acceleration.  As noted in the report, now is the time for distributors to act, to ensure they are not left behind by their competition.

Digital Transformation of Wholesale Distribution

This research report focuses on the fact that almost all distributors are being impacted by the digital transformation.  It was noted that the digital impact can have a much greater effect on company operations than initially thought and companies are in different stages as they implement their digital plans.

Some of the biggest barriers to companies jumping feet first into a true digital transformation is hesitancy from company leadership, which may be caused by:

  • Lack of technological experience
  • Misalignment of the management team
  • Complacent with the way things have always been
  • Lack of prioritization

The study identifies a six-step approach for companies to follow in developing a digital change, which have been included below, with a few highlights on each step:

  • Establish Your Vision
    • You must define where the company is going and what your goals are
    • Share to ensure that the vision is reinforced
    • Only 36% of respondents to the study have updated their vision statements to incorporate elements of their digital transformation
  • Execute Your Digital Strategy
    • Frequent engagement is a must
    • Have regular meetings to ensure that progress is being made
    • Address any roadblocks with plans to overcome them
    • Adjust plan as necessary
  • Align Your Executive Team
    • Disruption can lead to disagreement within the management team, which must be handled and resolved at the executive level
    • Changes will have an impact on the culture of the company
    • Fear of change must be addressed
    • Change will also require changes in employment structure and positions
  • Build, Deliver, Embed
    • The decision to “Start” must be made
    • It will be necessary to develop new metrics to measure results
    • A team that represents each section of the business must be involved, no one department should hold the responsibility
    • Reengineer processes to be digital first
  • Build Your Technology Ecosystem
    • Carefully select technologies that will support your strategy
    • The foundation for the ecosystem should encompass four primary technologies
      • ERP
      • CRM
      • E-commerce
      • Data Analytics
    • Identify Your Investment Requirements
      • Develop a budget
      • Define metrics and goals to measure success

By undertaking a digital transformation, a company should see a true change in the overall DNA of the company.  This will include current employees working in new roles and potential overhaul of the compensation environment.  The digital transformation will allow a company to compete with large, multi-national competitors.

Contact Us

To learn more about the research reports, you can follow along on the NAW website at www.naw.org

Have questions about your business?  Talk to one of our Barnes Dennig wholesale distribution industry experts, or call us at 513-241-8313 to ensure your business is successfully transforming in the wholesale distribution landscape. We’re here to help