WAKE UP TO THE WEB
“UNBELIEVABLE, ONLY ONE California distributor had a link!” In my recent opening keynote presentation for a group of industrial distributors, I made this alarming announcement. Upon visiting a major manufacturer’s Web site, I conducted a distributor search for California. When the list appeared on my screen, only one distributor listed had a link to its site from the manufacturer’s site. It’s unfortunate so many distributors are slow to partner with their principal suppliers. For some distributors, it is because they do not yet have a Web site, hard as that is to believe. And for others, it is a trust issue. Some distributors still believe by sharing information, they will lose customers. How wrong they are.
Your customers might not be getting any younger, but their purchasing staff most certainly is. With this youth also comes new ways of doing business. Younger people are quite comfortable with the Internet and many prefer e-commerce to “bothersome” visits from your reps. Just the other day upon leaving for school, my nine-year-old son asked my wife to find him some pictures of jellyfish for a school project. He proceeded to explain to her how to go to Yahoo.com and so forth to find the pictures he needed. She thought it was so cute. For technophobes, it’s a wake up call!
E-commerce is taking on several forms from the straightforward Amazon.com style of giving your credit card number, selecting the items you want and receiving your purchase a few days later via a delivery company, to more sophisticated arrangements similar to what the travel industry is doing. I personally find CheapTickets.com both a convenience and a time saver, giving me a wonderful choice on my air travel needs. I had never considered that as a possibility, until my travel agent started tacking on a $10 per ticket booking fee. The new business strategy did not add value to our relationship in my eyes. Needless to say, I am no longer a client.