Big Picture: How the Past is Affecting Distribution’s Future - Modern Distribution Management

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Big Picture: How the Past is Affecting Distribution’s Future

2014 Distribution Trends Report now available.

It’s easy to lose perspective on the big picture of the distribution industry, which is why every year, MDM interviews dozens of distributors, manufacturers, industry experts and technology specialists. We gather masses of information from surveys of our readers (thank you!) and then sort through everything to collect the most prevalent, influential trends affecting distribution.

Today we launched the 2014 MDM Market Leaders – our fifth installment of the largest distributors across sectors – and the 2014 Distribution Trends report, highlighting many of the key trends impacting your industries.

Here is a snapshot of our findings.

Robust business forecast for the next two to three years. Business in the first quarter of 2014 was typically slow for many, but others saw a surprising difference from previous years: profit. The construction market has “settled in,” says Talbot Gee, executive vice president and COO of Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), Columbus, OH. Slow but steady growth is giving distributors the stability to reevaluate business operations and strategy, which is crucial when the outlook past 2017 isn’t clear.  “There’s still a cliff looming somewhere, but it’s a few years down the road, we think,” Gee says.
Read more: Leaving Economic Uncertainty Behind

Having data about your business is worthless if you don’t know what to do with it. Many distribution companies have backlogs of data about their customers, their sales and their products – but that information is collecting virtual dust because the ability to successfully analyze the data is almost an afterthought.

Most recently, managing partner Jonathan Bein of Real Results Marketing in Boulder, CO, says he is seeing companies “cleaning up” their data to make it more usable. But many are biting off more than they can chew.
Read more: Avoiding Information Overload Essential with Analytics

Hiring is still a challenge, but shifting tactics and expectations can help.. Finding skilled workers isn’t a new problem for distribution companies, and a reason for that problem is surfacing: Millennials are just different. The work ethic of millennials isn’t missing, they just approach work and life in a different way than the older generations, says Phil Derrow, president and CEO, Ohio Transmission Corp., Columbus, OH They may job-hop, and sales jobs seem to take a bigger toll on them. But there are also business benefits that can be gained from recruiting and developing their talents.
Read more: Making the Case for Millennials in Distribution

The 2014 Distribution Trends Report also includes articles on e-commerce, training, vending strategies and product expansion, as well as trends found in 14 sectors.

Read the 2014 Distribution Trends Report. Or subscribe today for full access to it and trend reports on 14 sectors in distribution.

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