The generational shift in customer expectations will happen very quickly, said Ranga Bodla, director of industry marketing for NetSuite in the 2014 Industry Outlook webcast, so the time to establish multichannel distribution networks is now.
"You can't afford to wait on the sidelines," Bodla said. "If they're not able to (buy the way they want to), it's not like they're going to come back and wait for (the company) to have it available online. They're just going to go to the next place where they can buy their product."
“We’re talking to an organization now that two years ago was just going to dip a toe in the water with e-commerce to see if it would work,” said Brian Strojny, CEO of Insite Software, in a discussion with MDM. “They were notified this year that if they didn’t have an e-commerce portal they were going to lose a $700 million government contract … in 30 days.”
The availability of an alternative purchasing platform is no longer an added benefit for many customers, but has now become a necessity. The "Amazonization" of customer expectations, a term coined by one of the distributors we spoke with last year, is becoming increasingly prevalent as younger, more tech-savvy people are moving into decision making positions.
"The traditional buyer today is a 50-year old contractor that calls up and places orders," Bodla said. "However, it's starting to evolve, where you now have a 25-year-old contractor, and that person is used to going and buying things on their iPad or going and buying things online as opposed to picking up the phone."
According to research conducted by MDM, many distributors, by their own admission, are dissatisfied with their multichannel distribution offerings and are going to struggle to provide the kind of options that these customers are demanding in 2014. By failing to adapt to this new generation's needs, companies will be losing future business to those with stronger distribution platforms.
Purchase the DVD from the 2014 Industry Outlook here.