More distributors interested in expanding e-commerce


More than two-thirds of wholesale distributors are upgrading technology this year, with many of them seeing cloud computing and customer relationship management (CRM) software as a fit for their businesses.

man on computer in warehouse

The increased focus on technology in this year’s The Outlook for Wholesale Distribution in 2013 survey should level the playing field for many small and mid-sized distributors looking to gain better visibility through e-commerce, according to Modern Distribution Management, which conducted the study of its readership. More than 150 wholesale distributors and manufacturers responded to the survey, which was conducted in partnership with NetSuite.

Benefits the wholesale distributors see for cloud computing include reliable backup, flexibility and accessibility. More than 40 percent of respondents saw cloud computing as a possible fit for their businesses, compared to less than 30 percent in previous surveys.

Cloud computing is an approach to information technology that allows companies to access part or all of their servers, networks and software applications via an Internet-based service rather than buying and hosting them themselves.

E-commerce and CRM software were of high interest to 44 percent of respondents in the survey, and 32 percent were interested in mobile for sales.

Questioned about their plans for cost cutting this year, two-thirds of distributors said they are looking to improve employee productivity and streamline processes rather than laying off emplouees. They said they want to emphasize helping employees to prioritize their work and refocus their energies.

Other cost-cutting measures include reducing product costs and overhead, as well as cutting transportation costs. Laying off staff was the last of 10 possible responses, and was seen as a cost-cutting option by almost none of the respondents.

Plans for building revenue over the next year include growing revenue from existing customers, adding new products or categories and improving e-commerce capabilities. Fewer distributors are looking at expanding internationally or adding new locations or territories.