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Failed e-commerce initiatives are a common problem among distributors. Some companies never seem to get around to building a fully transaction-enabled website. Others spend a small fortune to go online only to be repeatedly disappointed as the investment fails to pay off, or creates conflict with more traditional selling channels.
As one distribution executive said of his e-commerce experience, “My slogan these days is, ‘If you build it, they won’t come.’”
The problem isn’t that digital investments are a bad idea; the real issue is that distributors build the wrong thing. Here’s why:
- Being a digital distributor isn’t just about e-commerce or selling online. There are many ways to get a return on internet-based technologies, including gaining operating efficiencies internally and improving upstream supply-chain productivity.
- Most distributors have complex value propositions: sophisticated products, large customers with multiple buyers and plenty of unusual work environments such as plants and construction sites. Simply promoting products online isn’t enough; you have to build capabilities that work for B2B customers, whose needs are very different than consumers shopping on retail sites.
- Omnichannel (that is, interacting with customers online, over the phone, in person, or at the counter) means you don’t know how much of your online shopping (customers looking up products online) turns into online buying (customers placing the order online). Your website may be very important to your customers but you can’t measure it because they may look up products online and then phone them in. Which leads to…
- Measurement challenges. When you launch an online website, much of the revenue that accrues there is “channel shift”, meaning you would have gotten that business anyway, but over the phone or at the counter. In addition, as an omnichannel seller, you don’t know how each channel contributed to a sale, so you’re guessing at the ROI of your web investment. Pure online sellers don’t have this problem, so it’s easier for them to justify the investments in websites and online marketing.
Add in the complexities of kitting, tiered pricing, sales-assigned vs. non-assigned accounts and more, and distributors face a very difficult environment for building digital capabilities.
You can certainly attend other B2B conferences, but at MDM’s Digital Distributor Summit you’ll learn from experts and practitioners who have faced and developed solutions to all of these issues. Our conference is about distribution, our speakers are experts in distribution and our attendees are mostly executives from distribution companies. That means the curriculum, the breakout work and the networking is among leaders who wrestle with the same problems you face every day.
This is the one digital conference you can’t miss. See below to review the agenda, read about our speakers and listen to testimonials from other MDM conference attendees. Then, register. We hope to see you there!