ADI Global Distribution’s Digital Investments Center on Convenient Customer Access - Modern Distribution Management

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ADI Global Distribution’s Digital Investments Center on Convenient Customer Access

Laura Phelan is steering the company’s digital marketing and merchandising, demand generation, digital in-store experiences and content marketing.
Laura Phelan 2

• To date, Laura Phelan and her team have redesigned 15 e-commerce sites in 11 languages.

• ADI has also introduced new customer-specific videos on its websites.

• Phelan led a redesign of ADI’s mobile app, available in Android and Apple stores.

ADI Global Distribution’s Laura Phelan’s work is a prime example of how a distributor can embrace digital tools and technologies to better serve its customers across multiple fronts.

Phelan, one of MDM’s five 2021 Digital Innovator award winners, holds forth on all things digital from her position as global vice president, digital experience (DX) for ADI Global Distribution. In 2018, ADI spun off from Honeywell. Having joined ADI in early 2019, Phelan says the company hadn’t really invested in digital tools, but now as part of Resideo Technologies, the company was keen to kickstart ADI’s digital transformation.

“From the digital perspective, I took ownership of bringing on new team members in August of 2019,” Phelan says. “We really grew that team rapidly through 2020 and built a development platform. We’re using offshore and onshore resources to really play a lot of catch-up.”

Phelan is responsible for 18 e-commerce websites, which are on various ERP systems, in 14 difference languages. To date, Phelan and her team have deployed a redesign for 15 e-commerce sites in 11 languages, with the rest of them awaiting the completion of an ERP systems project.

She is also in charge of ADI’s digital marketing and merchandising, demand generation, digital in-store experiences and content marketing.

“Laura is a hands-on leader who consistently inspires her team and colleagues to reach their goals, and pursue results that will benefit the business,” said ADI colleague Adrienne Zimoulis, in her nomination of Phelan for the award. “She brings passion and positivity to her work, and no goal is ever too far out of reach for her. Her sense of urgency and practical approach help her get things done, and as a true team player she’s always willing to help.”

Phelan has implemented a 24/7 development structure to fuel ADI’s digital transformation and brought on additional employees to help ADI reach its digital goals. ADI e-commerce platform is driving a higher mix of revenue online, which was especially important during the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

In North America, Phelan took on a mobile-first design that enabled customers to place orders online from websites or from ADI’s new mobile app that launched recently. The orders can then be stored in lockers for after-hours or weekend pick-ups. The “quote-to-order” platform allows customers to request a quote at the end of checking out with their online shopping carts.

“It sends the request into our CRM system,” Phelan explains. “It then spits out through our ERP a quote and then the salesperson becomes involved in reviewing that to see if there’s any special pricing that can be involved. Then it’s sent to the customer. Our goal is to do that within a 24-hour turnaround period.”

ADI also has automatic quotes for customers who qualify for special pricing, which provides the quotes within 15 minutes. The quotes-to-order system also allows customers to upload spreadsheets on ADI’s digital branch to get quotes on those items.

ADI utilizes Microsoft platforms

Phelan says ADI started a pilot this year with Microsoft that includes artificial intelligence-based “suggested selling.” With suggested selling, if a customer order a flat-screen TV, for example, the system would also recommend an ADI TV mount, since those two products are frequently sold together.

“We started with the pilot on all of our North America sites,” Phelan says. “We’re upgrading our current platform in EMEA. And then, once that upgrade is complete, we’ll move that to EMEA as well. We have a typical lifecycle where North America tends to be three-to-six months ahead of EMEA because EMEA is so fragmented with 18 different countries in 14 different languages.”

Phelan says ADI’s entire network is on Microsoft Azure’s cloud-based platform, and that ADI has an Azure architect on its staff. Working with Azure means ADI can put its applications and systems – such as its product information management (PIM) system – into the cloud that can then be accessed globally, which was a good feature to have when the pandemic forced many employee and customers to work from home without office access.

“We’ve found a lot of efficiencies within that platform,” she says. “We have multiple other tools that sit within the Azure platform. We can have a faster site and then we also have failover and redundancies in case of a complete outage. We can be up and going within hours. All of those are great assets to have.

“Because we are partnering with Microsoft, we’re able to also include all of our images and documents in a CDN (content delivery network) on Azure.”

On24 webinars

Near the end of last year, ADI rolled out a refreshed webinar platform called “On24” that is connected to its CRM system and is one element of the company’s 360-degree marketing campaign.

“The sponsorships that are coming from our supplier partners have accelerated,” Phelan says of On24. “Before, we may have had 50 or 60 people signing up for webinars. We now have over 600 people signing up for webinars, and obviously that leads to [sales] opportunities.”

ADI is able to deliver email blasts and social media posts based on each webinar’s specific topic as well as launch polls during the webinars. Phelan says the On24 webinars allows the company to do virtual expos with its customers who aren’t able to make any of its 50 expos that are held in-person across the U.S.

“We believe this platform is a differentiator,” Phelan says. “The engagement and the success of that thus far proves out. We’ll continue to drive on that.

“The overall theme is making sure that all of these tools and acceleration initiatives come together. Then it’s about how we operate in the lifecycle of everything that we do from a campaign perspective within the DX (digital transformation) organization.”


Along the same lines as retail customers, distributors are increasingly tapping into videos to showcase their products. Last year, ADI took the wraps off its “vidyard” video hub, which allows each customer to feature videos of their products on ADI’s website as well as doing customer training.

“Google has a video page off of our Google landing page that allows them to post videos about all of the different products that we sell,” Phelan says. “We have 110 branches in North America. If we just had each branch do one video a year, that’s 110 videos a year.

“We really have an opportunity to increase the amount of onsite content, which allows us to give our customers insights to all different types of topics. That’s really something that we’re ramping up. We’ve started adding videos to all of our product detail pages in some of our top categories.”

While ADI previously sent out a generic newsletter via email in the past, it’s now generating newsletters that are specific to each of its distributor segments. This practice also serves as another leg of its content marketing efforts.

“We have been able to segment our customers utilizing our marketing automation to provide different types of products that would be in those emails to all of those different segments that we’ve defined,” she says. “If you’re someone who only works in audio video, you’re not wanting to see anything around HVAC. We make sure that we segment that within our content marketing efforts.”

Going mobile

ADI launched a new version of its mobile app in May. The app uses artificial intelligence and is available to ADI customers in the Google Play and Apple app stores. It includes voice search for products. It can also find a product based on the customer taking a picture of a part that needs to be replaced. The natively built app also allows customers to find specific pricing for products by scanning QR codes in the in-store aisles.

“It shows them the inventory on hand and all the different aspects of the product,” Phelan says. “It connects to the PIM system, allowing them to view all the different attributes. The PIM is up, but it’s not feeding the website quite yet. A lot of the elements that are in the PIM we’ve been able to just kind of mirror on site until we get those connections just right.

“We are planning on that connection being fulfilled this summer, and we’ll be powering all of our North America sites by end of summer with our PIM and then in early Q1 2022 for the rest of our media sites.”

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