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The rate of change within the distribution industry is accelerating, and nowhere is this change happening faster than in the world of commerce. The impacts caused by rapid advances in technology, combined with evolving customer expectations, may create headaches for some distributors in the coming year. But for others, these disruptive influences could transform into major opportunities.

To stay ahead of this evolutionary freight train smart distributors will not only strive to understand these powerful forces, they’ll embrace them as part of a digitally transformative strategy for 2018. To help with that, the commerce experts at Insite Software have created a list of the five major disruptors most likely to impact the distribution industry this year. In this new series, we’ll explain how to absorb each disruptive influence, incorporate it into an effective plan, and deliver the strongest commerce experience possible for the customer, the organization, and every person involved with the buying cycle.

Two of these disruptors are a continuation of major themes from last year, as customers continue to expect a more “retail-like” experience, and new cloud technology supports a growing number of mega distributor channels. Others have moved to the forefront this year, like the need for robust mobile experiences, and demand for more pricing transparency drives changes to the commerce ecosystem. Although B2B eCommerce systems continue to mature, the complexity of this industry means it will never be 100% self-service. The need to build unified offline/online commerce environments has become painfully clear, becoming perhaps the largest disruptor of all.

Over the next few weeks, learn from the experts at Insite, as we cover the five main disruptors facing distributors in 2018 including:

  • Greater Post-Purchase ExpectationsExpectations from B2C are actually driving up the expectations within the B2B cycle. Reports show that even a longstanding relationship between customer and distributor can be destroyed in an instant by a poor support experience. We’ll explain the relationship between online and offline support within a modern B2B commerce environment, and how building stronger post-purchase mechanisms can actually increase new client revenue as well as share of wallet.
  • Fully Functional Mobile ApplicationsResponsivity is not enough when it comes to mobile users. Customers are demanding 100% functionality no matter what device they’re using. Learn the top requirements for a high functioning native app, and how to build strong mobile eCommerce capabilities at a fraction of the cost.
  • Demand for Pricing TransparencyThis disruptor may be the most frightening of our top five this year, and for good reason. Distributors have long relied on complex manual processes to build quotes “behind the curtain” for customers. It’s a part of a traditional business model that’s deeply embedded within many organizations. But there are ways to incorporate price transparency that not only increases efficiency and drives down the cost of sales, but attracts new customers as well. And once again, rising customer expectations are demanding that in many cases, prices are no longer behind the veil.
  • Mega Cloud DistributorsDirect sales to manufacturers are certainly a threat when it comes to the distribution industry. There is a growing need to show value for manufacturers as the sales models change, and more transactions occur online in a self-service fashion. Cloud-based technology has become dramatically less expensive in the past few years. Smart distributors are taking advantage of that by building robust mega distribution channels with sophisticated cloud-based eCommerce capabilities.
  • Unified Commerce EnvironmentsNew B2B eCommerce solutions have placed too much emphasis on retail-like features, and not enough on the core components that focus on the true goal of B2B commerce – improving efficiency. As a result, adoption rates are poor and satisfaction rates are even lower. In this last blog in the series we’ll explain why embracing a hybrid model for distributor commerce systems can result in a superior B2B buying experience that lets customers move easily between digital and human interactions.

Remember, the goal of commerce is to make the customers’ lives easier by providing the most efficiency at the lowest cost of sales. Incorporating these disruptors into your 2018 strategy can help you do just that.

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