Lessons From the Past 24 Months


February 1, 2022

By John Kerr

The past few years have witnessed impactful change, in the way we work, the way we think and the way we consume information. The current supply chain issues and rampant inflationary pressure have made the entire electrical industry look at any and every opportunity to gain that edge, differentiate themselves and grow. The technology we use makes this all so transparent and more importantly the information is there when needed.

In distribution, the electrical industry’s “Channel of Choice” a term once used by the predecessor of EFC Canada this has been the focus of many in the wholesaling segment.

Our view in this pandemic and its fall out is that many distributions first reaction was to  remember their fundamental pillar of the value they bring to the supply chain; they add value to both the end user and supplier alike. Herein the wholesale distributors that have thrived though these past months quickly moved to drive up their inventories well ahead of their past levels.

What is well out in the open today is lead times exacerbated by shipping issues, logistics and material shortages in manufacturing. Inventory now is the tool that masks that reality and thereby allows the end users and customers to source as they always have and allows the distributor to gain new business. Quietly Inventory hides the reality too of shortages and the like.  

Maybe its time to reflect on that value added by distribution that invests actively in inventory. In the old days the supply chains didn’t break like they have today so there was always a quick fix or alternative. Being nimble today comes more quickly with access to supply. 

We know and all default to the distributor channel benefit of local branches and close the customer is a distributor role and value . Now what we see is that the distributors that add their footprint to  mindset  that ensures their basket of goods they offer is integrated and  compatible to easily address the needs and end user requirements when they need them. Distributors that are integrated in their solution/product offering, ones that offer complementary products and value-added services will accelerate their sales of electrical equipment far more quickly than a manufacturer going it alone.

But what else is there for electrical distributors to look at to help guide their future.

Understanding their customers intimately is obviously the best next step. Gaining that knowledge and more importantly sharing that knowledge across the entire team is the trick. Those that accomplish this the fastest will thrive moving forward. Supporting this can be more online support and infrastructure for sure but getting your people aligned is the trick.

Alongside this is to make online platforms more robust. The past online efforts have focused on the product attributes, images, and the basic specifications. End users need more today! The distributors that win in future will bring those products to life as it were with application notes, videos etc.

At the end of the day, we can’t and must not loose sight of the other core values local service, credit, product knowledge and that customer relationship.

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