Data-Driven Decisions: Learn to Trust Your Information - Modern Distribution Management

Log In

Data-Driven Decisions: Learn to Trust Your Information

Distributors have the data they need and the ambition to use it. What’s the holdup? Hear from two major distributor executives who use data to make a difference.

In a comprehensive report published this month, MDM found that distributors across the industry are ambitiously investing in data capabilities regardless of where they currently stand in their maturity of data investment and utilization. 

Distributors have long recognized the potential data-driven decisions have to create stronger supply chain partnerships and reduce costs, understand customers better and predict demand, aid in price management and so much more. Yet, so many distributors have lagged in tapping into the potential they know is there, albeit hoping to change.

Take, for example, the over 200 senior distribution executives surveyed for MDM’s most recent report. Half of the distributors identify as having low data maturity today, but 70% have plans to achieve high data maturity within the next three years. Most distributors who placed themselves in a novice or proficient state of data maturity, envision themselves swinging to the competent or expert level in 2027. 

“Expert distributors — the most data-savvy according to our four-point scale — are about two times more likely to report high data capability in just about every single area of their business,” said Kevin Reid-Morris during a March 7 MDM Webcast entitled “Data-Driven Decisions – Challenges and Opportunities in the Data Revolution,” sponsored by Epicor. Those same distributors also report moving faster than peers and competitors due to their data capabilities. 

The report, which dives into which areas of the business over 200 senior distribution executives report the highest data capability and more, is available to download for free, courtesy of Epicor. 

Reid-Morris is Founder & CEO, Readmore Ventures and was the lead on several recent MDM research projects, including our 2023 AI for Distributors Playbook.

According to the data collected from the comprehensive sampling of the industry, distributors are ready to take on the task.

Allie Copeland

Allie Copeland, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of low-voltage electronic and security product distributor ADI Global Distribution and one of the participants of the study, says there’s no time like now. About 5 years ago, ADI Global ramped up its focus on digital intelligence by aiming to build out its supply chain predictability capabilities through customer churn models and integrating data both upstream and downstream. Now, the company won’t look back.

“We’ve always had data in terms of distribution wholesale, it’s been a huge asset that we’ve had,” Copeland said during the webcast. “What I would say is tap the asset. You have it; you have the data, the technology is there, use it.”

The first step in data utilization is identifying the problem to be solved and identifying ways to use the data effectively, explains Randy Breaux, North American Group President for Genuine Parts Company — a role in which he serves as President of the company’s industrial business, Motion, and its automotive business, NAPA Auto Parts. He also contributed to the study. 

Can You Trust Data to Influence Business Decisions? 

“Most of us have the data, but most of us don’t use the data we have effectively,” Breaux explains. 

About 10 years ago, Genuine Parts embarked on its data-based plan to map out the sectors of its business it had the most customer opportunities. It has since evolved its practices to help its customers understand their own business through initiatives such as sensor installation which allows predictive preventive maintenance, repair and operations. Most recently, the company has utilized data in the strategic planning process for both sales and operations. 

The shift from data collection to strategic use doesn’t happen overnight. Perhaps you don’t know what to do with the data once you have it, or it’s a challenge to trust the data once you sift through it. 

Randy Breaux

“Trusting the data to paint the picture for you is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things that you do as a company,” he emphasized. “You have to utilize a little bit of gut feel, but you also have to take the data for what it’s worth, and utilize it when you’re making your business decisions. Once you get over that hurdle, you will be able to reach decisions much quicker and you’re typically more accurate in what you do to change your business model to impact your business in a favorable way.”

For example, Genuine Parts allowed salespeople to override the recommended price of a product. At one point, Breaux noted, there was a 50% override rate because salespeople didn’t trust the data. But once there was buy-in from the team to use the recommended price generated based on the data, orders were coming in at the same rate at a much higher margin. 

“It’s a perfect example where you sometimes have to convince people that if you trust [the data] there is a benefit for you, there’s a benefit for the customers, and there is a benefit for the company,” Breaux said.

Accurate vs. Directional Data

ADI Global’s Copeland said when making data-driven decisions you may have to challenge your team’s perception of the data value and avoid the nature of teams to focus on the minutiae. Does the data need to be completely accurate to make a decision? Or can you make a better-educated decision based on the direction of the data? 

“There are times where, yeah, there may be data gaps, or there may be data holes, but does that preclude you from having enough information for it to be directionally accurate to make decisions?” she said. 

What’s Next? 

Despite being several years into their data-driven strategies and highly proficient in using data, both ADI Global and Genuine Parts are always aiming for evolution. 

ADI’s Copeland said the future of data revolves around predictability and resiliency, while Genuine Parts Breaux says its focus is using data for revenue growth and profitability

Copeland will aim to build resiliency in ADI’s supply chain and consume and utilize macroeconomic data to build more churn models, predictive analytics and more. 

“There’s so much data now that we can all connect and understand which data attributes tie very closely to your supply chain, and understand how we can use that data to be more predictable,” she said. 

MDM Analytics allows distributors access to market demand profiling and more.

Breaux said the future will not only mean using data to build operational efficiency throughout its distribution and logistics side of the business and make strategic planning decisions, but also to grow sales.

“How do we use the data to drive more sales out the door, understand our customers better, understand their needs better, understand what can we do to create a better value proposition for our customers… so they spend more time and more money with us than our competitors,” he explained. 

Hear more examples of data-driven decisions from these executives, and to get a live overview of the report from its author, check out the webcast, which is now available on-demand

Related Posts

Share this article

About the Author
Recommended Reading
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Get the MDM Update Newsletter

Wholesale distribution news and trends delivered right to your inbox.

Sign-up for our free newsletter and get:

  • Up-to-date news in a quick-to-read format
  • Free access to webcasts, podcasts and live events
  • Exclusive whitepapers, research and reports
  • And more!


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Register for full access

By providing your email, you agree to receive announcements from us and our partners for our newsletter, events, surveys, and partner resources per MDM Terms & Conditions. You can withdraw consent at any time.

Learn More about Custom Reports

Request a Market Prospector Demo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.