The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Distributors’ Top Concerns Going Into 2014

Online competition, a slow economy and nontraditional competition among top concerns for distributors.

Every year in MDM’s annual industry outlook survey we ask readers about the changes they’ve had to make in their firms to be successful in the past year. This year readers were mixed in their responses: Some invested in new talent and training for employees; others eliminated staff, froze salaries and reduced costs in other areas with an eye toward streamlining operations.

Technology investments were a top change that many readers made in 2013, with a focus on better efficiency. Many also noted more reliance on business intelligence tools over the past year.

The survey also indicated a growing focus on sales force realignment, as well as on marketing – which some have said is the next frontier for distributors. Part of this is due to the rise of interest in analytics in distribution.

In the annual survey, we also asked readers what their top concerns are going into the new year. This year, the challenge of building an appropriate and effective online presence and the impact of online competitors on business were key concerns for distributors going into 2014.

Here are more top concerns from respondents to the MDM survey, which was sponsored by NetSuite. Full results will be available soon.

Business-Specific Concerns

  • Finding skilled employees & retaining talent
  • Brick and mortar closures
  • Internet customers going direct
  • Price competition
  • Slow economy
  • Obamacare & healthcare costs
  • Cash flow to support acquisition growth
  • Sales execution
  • Internal technology initiatives
  • Rapidly changing distribution models
  • Changing dynamics of how individuals and corporations purchase products
  • State of manufacturing in the U.S.
  • Military cutbacks
  • Competitive pricing/margins
  • Demand creation for products
  • Developing a meaningful strategy for the Internet
  • Customers selling their businesses
  • How to grow in a shrinking marketplace
  • How to compete with the nationals

Industry-wide Concerns

  • The impact of the rise of vending machines
  • Will recovery continue?
  • Instability in the macroeconomic outlook
  • Amazon
  • Material inflation
  • Politics’ effect on industry
  • Market consolidation
  • Loss of energy rebates
  • Industrial base slowdown
  • Competitors’ poaching talent
  • Encroachment by big-box retailers
  • Commoditization of products
  • Growth of generalist vs. special distributors
  • Regulatory landscape impeding investment in particular end-markets
  • Manufacturer-distributor communication
  • Attracting high-quality talent to industry
  • Resistance to change


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