Amazon and e-commerce continued to be front of mind in the distribution industry in 2015, taking four of the Top 10 spots for the most popular blogs this year. Other top blogs focused on how distributors are responding to continued economic uncertainty.
Here are the Top 10 Most-Read Blogs of 2015:
1. Is the Sun Setting on AmazonSupply?
Amazon's skyrocketing growth in recent years has been primarily on the consumer side, and the company remained challenged to grow its B2B platform. Early in 2015, analysts were speculating that a "significant change" would take place – and that prediction ultimately came to fruition.
2. Grainger: Industrial Slowdown Presents Challenges, Opportunities
As the "challenging industrial economy" stretched into the fourth quarter, Grainger executives noted that it would be making some structural changes – including layoffs and branch closures – in order to adapt. But at the same time, they identified opportunities raised by the shift in focus.
3. Fastenal: 'We Need to Create Our Own Luck'
Fastenal sales were also dampened by the weak industrial conditions in 2015, and executives said they weren't "real optimistic" that conditions would "bounce back quickly." In response, the company keyed in on four areas of investment that would help "create our own luck," according to outgoing CEO Will Oberton.
4. Wolseley's Investment in E-Commerce Grows
Ian Meakins, chief executive of UK-based Wolseley, sees great opportunity in e-commerce. In the first half of fiscal 2015, sales through its e-commerce platforms accounted for 13 percent of total group sales. In the U.S., they accounted for 23 percent of B2B sales. While Meakins sees even more opportunity for growth in the area, he also recognizes a need for "balance" in how they invest in growth.
5. Sonepar Continues Pursuit of 'Unique Assets'
Sonepar was one of the first distributors to jump into the very active acquisition year in 2015, completing six acquisitions by the end of the first quarter. The acquisitions covered a broad geography and highlighted the company's pursuit of "unique assets" to drive growth.
6. Preparing for the Future Amazon
The impact of Amazon on distributors is still more potential than reality. But just because it isn't impacting your business now doesn't mean that it won't have an impact going forward. Amazon has a strong history of disrupting businesses that it targets. Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, offered some tips on how to make sure distributors are prepared for disruption.
7. Strategies for Smarter Distributor Pricing
It’s not uncommon for a successful pricing initiative to improve gross margins by two points or more. Because this improvement drops straight to the bottom line, the profit impact can be huge. In this blog, Steve Deist, a partner at Indian River Consulting Group, shares insight on how to approach pricing more strategically.
8. Amazon Reinvents B2B Model
The "significant change" that projected for AmazonSupply came to fruition in April when Amazon closed that entity and launched Amazon Business in its place.
9. Wolseley's Customer Segmentation Strategy
Customer service is a key element to keeping customers happy for the long haul. And providing excellent customer service requires knowing your customers and how they want and need to be served, according to Ian Meakins, chief executive of Wolseley plc. To uncover those details, Wolseley launched a program to segment its customers based on their buying priorities.
10. Report: Builders FirstSource to Buy ProBuild for $1.5B
M&A activity was rampant in distribution in 2015 (read more in Wednesday's blog), led by consolidation in the building materials sector. And one of the sector's biggest deals involved Dallas, TX-based Builders FirstSource, No. 7 on MDM's list of top building materials and construction distributors, acquiring Denver, CO-based ProBuild Holdings, No. 2 on the list.