Suchit Bachalli, Unilog’s Chief Executive Officer, has a message for distributors: if you want to maintain a competitive edge, you must develop a disruption mindset. This new way of thinking requires changing your attitude, questioning your methods, searching for new possibilities, and enabling new technologies to help drive your business into the future. With large-scale e-businesses gaining traction in the wholesale sector, distributors must adapt, evolve, and disrupt their own industry before others beat them to it.
Competing in the age of Amazon
The B2B marketplace paradigm is shifting rapidly. Big-time retailers like Grainger and Amazon have disrupted the distribution industry and business as they know it. But Bachalli says that while Amazon may offer its buyers benefits like same-day delivery, one-click buying and volume discounts, distributors provide advantages of their own. “Distributors aren’t just pushing product like Amazon; they’re providing real solutions for buyers,” says Bachalli. He explains that, in addition to offering value-added services like technical expertise and recommendations to fit buyers’ specific needs, distributors are hyperlocal by being available to assist customers in their local community.
Bachalli’s advice is to double down on these assets and take full advantage of the web; not as just a means to sell product, but as a way to create experiences where you’re supporting your customers, following their journey, and continuing to offer them products that are of value to them.
Unilog is helping its distribution customers build better experiences and stay competitive by developing more integrations with their CIMM2 eCommerce platform. For example, they’ve added APIs for DoorDash and UberRUSH so businesses can offer same-day delivery to their local customers. “Having a website that does a few things is not the end game; we need to continually push the envelope to create better solutions for buyers,” adds Bachalli.
Reset your business with a disruption mindset
The disruption mindset cycle consists of five stages: innovation, adoption, improvement, scale, and saturation. When a product or technology is first developed and eventually adopted by others, it is then improved upon and built to scale before it reaches a point of saturation and no longer meets customer needs at the level it once did. Continually improving your offerings only goes so far. At a point, Bachalli says, you have to make a shift to reset your business. Once you begin challenging the status quo and reimagining the future, you have the ability to break and rewrite the rules – and ultimately change the services you provide and value you offer.
One of the biggest challenges distributors face is driving people to their website. Search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO) can help in this effort but what if, instead, businesses could shift from helping customers find them to making themselves discoverable? Bachalli challenges distributors to consider moving from the traditional search model to a knowledge model that connects buyers to their business without having them start with an online search to get there.
New technology to drive business
Knowledge-based site visits may be in the future, but they’re not far away. Bluetooth-enabled beacon technology is paving the way for distributors to know what parts or products a customer wants without having to search for them. These low-energy Bluetooth beacons are used with an app installed on a smartphone or mobile device. The beacon launches the app, which enables the mobile device to determine a specific product model or SKU, and then performs actions like finding that item on the distributor’s website. The beacon gives users complete control to decide what they want to do next, whether it be to learn more about the product, order it, or contact the seller with questions. Bachalli feels this technology is going to be a game-changer for the marketplace. “This is an application we should be thinking about to help disrupt the state of saturation in B2B eCommerce,” states Bachalli. “We can change the beginning of the buyer journey from search to knowledge; that’s a huge transition for buyers.”