As we near the mid-point of 2023, the hottest topic of conversation in distribution appears to be artificial intelligence. AI has been an operational component for many distributors for much of the past decade, but its hype level advanced several levels upon the launch of ChatGPT — the open-source chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. Its adoption has spread like wildfire, and distributors are already experimenting with how they can put it to use for both customer-facing and internal operations. (Read more in the May 2023 Premium Monthly report.)
In a May 16 piece, I discussed how Walmart is currently leveraging ChatGPT to conduct supplier negotiations with some smaller providers of the equipment the retailer uses and the seemingly inevitable inroads that technology can have in distribution. MDM’s Tom Gale has had several recent QuickTake Podcasts on AI in distribution that provide plenty more to think about with this topic, which I think will remain the most fascinating topic to watch the rest of this year.
Other May Premium articles included my analysis of the latest monthly wholesale data from the U.S. Census Bureau; my recap of an ISA23 session that advised on how to remove the age-old friction between sales and operations; and Associate Editor Mark Powell’s collection and analysis of Baird-MDM 1Q Industrial Distribution Survey commentary on distributors’ biggest barriers to leveraging technology.
MDM Premium subscribers were privy to a May 23 webcast in which Redwood Advisors’ John Nantz presented a methodology and insights on how to right-size and redesign distribution outside and inside sales forces to perfectly align them with customer needs and opportunities. A corresponding whitepaper is now available to download from the MDM Premium Member Dashboard. MDM will host a pair of follow-up discussion workshops on this topic, facilitated by Nantz on June 13 & June 14.
On May 8, MDM welcomed new Senior Editor Vesna Brajkovic, who adds firepower to our editorial efforts. You’ll see her byline regularly on Premium content going forward. Her May 12 piece conveniently packaged the robust commentary captured in the 1Q23 Baird-MDM Industrial Distribution Survey about their thoughts on how product demand fared during 2023’s first quarter. Brajkovic then capped off our May content with a May 31 piece analyzing how Pro sales are trending at The Home Depot and Lowe’s — two mega-retailers that have considerable industrial distribution components.
MDM is gearing up for our Virtual Profitability Summit, to be held July 19 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET. Conducted in partnership with Dorn Group, the FREE event will deliver best practices, emerging innovations, impacts of AI and other technologies that your peers are leveraging to expand margins today.