ing whether there is an issue when e-sales are low. • Contractors must be trained by an expert to use the site, and as Hindrich- son said, “this must be done eyeball to eyeball.” • Inside salespeople should learn to indirectly promote the site much the way outside sales does. • Counter personnel must know to tell customers, “We are available on- line, 24/7, at your prices.” As to the delivery driver, one of Hindrichson’s more interesting in- sights is that the person who makes the deliveries is often one of the best to tell customers about the web portal. Nobody expects a driver to make a pitch about anything, so it can have a disproportionate effect when he or she makes a side comment to the cus- tomer to the effect of, “Did you know you could order this 24/7 on the web- site and I’d have it on the next truck coming your way?” So it seems that if a distributor has a good, convenient website; commit- ment from the top; direct personal responsibility by an officer; and good top-to-bottom sales training, it will be in e-clover, right? Maybe—but maybe not. Think back to the first point on Apruve’s list above: accuracy in stock counts. If a distributor is completely comfortable that the quantities shown on its system are indeed the quantities on the shelf, it may very well be in clover when it comes to e-commerce. However, if the shadow of a doubt clouds that tranquility, be very care- ful. Hindrichson said that if a branch with poor inventory management makes inquiries about e-commerce, he tells the distributor not to bother until it gets the warehouse in order.
The Bottom Line
“You have to find a way to be flexible and diversified and do business the way your customers want you to do business—and that includes both cur- rent customers and future custom-
ers,” said Denise Keating, president of the distribution-focused consul- tancy DATAgility. She added that it’s not all or nothing, where distributors either choose to be exclusively brick- and-mortar or solely e-commerce resellers, but rather “what you have to do is find that blended model that’s going to help you attract customers from all areas.” ;
and his colleagues at JSA help distributors improve profitability. Reac
im at email@example.com.
is a freelance writer and editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aug. 17 • the
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