Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 internetBy David Gordon

With so many people growing up with astounding computer skills, a number of distributors are wondering how to utilize these skills in future business plans.

Most distributors got “pushed” into an ERP (enterprise resource planning) computer system because they thought it was a good way to print invoices. Some loaded their product data from people who aggregate product such as Trade Service, and some hand-typed the product descriptions, prices and unit of measures. Eventually, some moved to IDEA in hopes of matching data with their manufacturers so they could order, receive advance shipping notices, invoices and eventually sought to reach for the brass ring of three way matching thus gaining productivity.

Many distributors built, or had built, a web storefront where they learned, to their horror, that all that gibberish product data they had in their ERPs was not readable by customers seeking to buy product through their storefront. 

So, many have worked like beavers to clean up their product data and add pictures and better descriptions so that someone coming to their web storefront could actually order product without talking to anyone in that distributor's firm (or they’re subscribing to get attributed/catalogue data from IDEA or Trade Service). The reward, for some, was that customers still price shopped the distributor.

Third parties sell electrical products

 

Amazon (along with others) spent a boatload of money making it really easy for people to buy products and they did something else ... sell add on products through suggestions to the buyer. So Amazon made room for some of the larger electrical distributors to sell product, and the vast majority of distributors thought they would see poaching across defined territories. That meant to some that distributors that they no longer had protected territories. And this is becoming more of an issue with the launch of Amazon Supply.

Orders float in. Quotes quadruple and more 

Much to the surprise of some, internet sales grew slowly and then began to pick up. Some orders were redirected from Amazon and the distributor took on another partner, shrinking their margins. Quotes abounded, quadrupling or more in comparison to orders. But if the customer came through Amazon, many distributors were stuck with fees. Margins take another hit.

The question for many distributors was how to get rid of those fees.

The courtesy quote

A couple of electrical distributors I know have started offering a time-limited “courtesy quote” on their websites. The time limit is usually several hours. The potential customer is allowed to click on a button that makes them think that their order has been saved and is in a file to be regenerated, added to or for an order to be placed.

When the potential customer is unable to find the quote and only the header, they are directed to call the distributor's Web department. 

The customer is told that their quote was a “virtual quote” and that they are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused the customer. They direct the customer to go back to the distributor's site and give log-in instructions. 

Human connection is established. And by the way, a chance to upsell.

The distributor's web department brings up the quote and in the background on the customer’s screen suggested items appear that other people have purchased with their order. Obviously the web department's job is to add two or more highly priced items to the order, thus increasing the total profit on the order.

Does this work for you and your company?

David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group helps manufacturers and distributors in the construction and industrial trades generate ideas to accelerate revenue through strategic planning, marketing planning and coaching and market research initiatives. He can be reached at 919.488.8635.

 

 

OlsonBy Katrina Olson

A recent CEW article by David Gordon caught my eye. The headline was, Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Inhibiting Growth?

As a marketing consultant, writer, and trainer, I recognized the challenges and barriers that David was writing about. We agree on many issues (and their causes) facing electrical distributors and marketers. But I also hear from marketing people all the time that the C-Suite is hindering their efforts which, in turn, hinders the company’s growth.  

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2018 Electrical North American MeetingOn October 29-31, 2018, the AD Electrical North American Meeting drew over 1,000 attendees. This event attracted 151 first time attendees and representatives from over 362 companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Attendees benefited from a variety of agenda topics, including: Network Meetings, Emerging Leaders Session, and Country-specific Business Meetings. New to this year’s agenda was a SPA Optimization Workshop led by industry veteran Mo Barsema. In addition, members and suppliers also attended a panel discussion on managing and measuring your digital success.

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Changing Scene

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 EFC Announces 2018 Marketing Awards Winners

2018 Marketing Awards WinnersElectro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence and innovation within the Canadian electrical manufacturing and distribution industry. Winners of this year’s awards were recognized at EFC’s 8th Annual Future Forum, held earlier this month. (Shown in photo: EFC President and CEO Carole McGlogan with representatives from Bartle & Gibson, winners of the Integrated Marketing Award — distributor under $50 million.)Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence...

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Peers & Profiles

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First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing ...
Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
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 Young Leaders: Taylor Gerrie

Taylor GerrieOn a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a Q&A. It’s a way of recognizing industry movers and shakers, and helping our readers get to know them better. 

Recently we launched an initiative with Electro-Federation Canada's Young Professionals Network to include profiles of up-and-coming leaders. We provided the list of questions below to Taylor Gerrie, Automation Account Specialist at Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd. in Burlington, Ontario. Here are Taylor’s responses.

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Susan Uthayakumar, President of Schneider Electric Canada: Driving Success

Susan UthayakumarBy Owen Hurst

First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing with a friend than conducting an interview with the Canadian president of one of the world’s largest electrical manufacturers. Of course, she exudes the confidence and knowledge her position demands, but equally identifiable are an open and engaging nature.

In a recent sit-down, we learned a little about Susan’s history and what drives her to succeed.

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Looking Back

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The best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. ...
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Looking BackThe best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. The welcome they gave to me, all of them men. (In those days there were not many women in business.) This welcome I will always remember. CEDA has played a very important role in my success.

One year our conference was in Hamilton, Ontario. Mr. Caouillette, our speaker, got lost and instead of going to Hamilton went to Toronto. I think that that was the longest cocktail hour that CEDA ever had… waiting for him to arrive. Certainly that night the head table and everyone were in good spirits.

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Looking BackLooking BackIn the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent companies like Horsman, Ashdowns, Brettell, Marshall Wells, Electrical Supplies Ltd., etc.

Small electrical distributors just were not acceptable for membership as they did not carry the main-line manufacturers’ goods, publish a wiring device catalogue, or employ four to five salesmen as CEDA requested.

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