Content courtesy of Epicor.
At the annual Distribution Executive Forum hosted by Epicor Software Corporation, an audience representing 60+ wholesale distribution companies gathered to hear industry thought leaders as they discussed enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the technology-enabled distributor of the future. Panel members included: Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager, ERP Americas for Epicor; Guy Blissett, researcher at IBM and fellow of the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence; Tom Gale, president, Gale Media/Industrial Market Information, and publisher of Modern Distribution Management; Dr. Barry Lawrence, director of Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution Program; Mike Marks, managing partner of Indian River Consulting Group; and Jon Schreibfeder, president of Effective Inventory Management Inc.
“Technology is the linchpin of Distribution 2.0,” said Kevin Roach. “Distributors need to have a defined strategy around this key aspect of their business. Technology can and will make a real difference in how you compete in the market.”
During the panel discussion, the panelists observed that most distributors are currently using only 20-30 percent of the technical functionality in the ERP systems they have bought and paid for; and today’s consultative-selling model requires not only just product knowledge, but also a more technically- competent and adept sales force. In looking at the future of wholesale distribution, the panelists also suggested that instead of serving merely as an inventory storage house, companies should focus on becoming the “intellectual controller” of the supply chain, introducing reliability into the processes between supplier and customer as a true value-add. The panelists encouraged distributors to “analyze the value dynamic among you, your vendors and your customers, to create meaningful differentiation.” Other topics covered by the group included strategies for directing field sales, the use of customer stratification, predictive analytics and central warehousing, and the role of buying groups and master distributors.