Category Archives: Distribution Industry Sales

98. “Your Margin is My Opportunity” (Jeff Bezos)

Why Are Your Margins Too High v AMZ’s?

Your margins must cover your channel cost structure which was built for bygone days. Most channel costs evolved (from WW2 on) to push true-new products to first-time buyers. Cold calls (requiring product-education) required both factory and distributor reps to create demand. Both sets of reps got paid roughly 5% of their respective sales. Today (70 years later), most channels still have two sets of reps costing about the same. What other elements of your push-channel costs will AMZ threaten?

2018 Legacy-Channel Challenges:                    

  1. The US consumer-society lifecycle is mature with too much global supply. Power has shifted to customers. And, AMZ owns the increasing numbers of Prime customers. Brands must go to where the eyeballs are and sell them the way they want to buy.
  2. 80%+ of distributor product sales are for equally-excellent commodities (no demos needed)
  3. 90% of sales are rebuys from experienced customers (fewer cold calls)
  4. The internet makes all product – information, availability and pricing – 24/7 available. As digital information grows, product knowledge help from local reps drop.
  5. Mark-ups for full-lines of SKUs create profit/loss cross-subsidies. Average-pick size and turns are ignored. Buy: a popular $500 piece of equipment at 20% margin and some fittings for $1 to $3 each at a 40% margin. The equipment’s $100 of gross profit covers: its activity costs; the losses on fittings; and residual company profit.
  6. Mark-ups covering bundled services are not customer-centric. Customers get an assigned rep whether they want them or not. If reps were unbundled for fees and customers got 5% rebates for buying on their own, what would happen? Without unbundling, Millennials will web-room you on the big-price, popular and most profitable items on AMZ for less. They will: check the $500 equipment price at AMZ. Sees savings of $X. Spot buy it. Then, order the little-dollar picks (net-profit losers) from the distributor.
  7. And, the Perfect Clones of most profitable items are increasing at AMZ. Clones – with great information content, reviews and prices – will steal share from top brands not there. Clones can skip channel development costs and go right to AMZ’s unlimited cyber-shelf space using Fulfillment by Amazon.
  8. Loyalty to – brands, distributors and reps – will continue to erode.

Unless What?

Factories and distributors share SKU profitability analytics to solve cross-subsidies and rethink their respective service bundles. And, factories get on AMZ to win the content management war against the clones. For more: contact me for a free, virtual, SKU analytics session.

94. Amazon’s $7 Per Line-Item, Wake-Up Call


Amazon knows warehouse activity costs to the penny. Their 9th generation warehouses may have the lowest, cost-per-pick on the planet. Some stats:

  1. The “click to ship” elapsed time is 15 minutes and dropping.
  2. The average human time input for each order is one minute which includes 15 seconds to pack.
  3. The cost per pick – in the narrowest sense – is 44 cents for a human and 20 cents for a robot.

Continue reading 94. Amazon’s $7 Per Line-Item, Wake-Up Call

93. Amazon (AMZ) Backcasting Strategies

Does your company plan to sell – physical or digital – goods to AMZ Prime members in 2020 and beyond? Then, backcast about the ideal customer shopping journey that AMZ will be dictating. And, start changing now.


It’s visionary planning:

  1. Start with an ideal vision of what customers might want in 2020+.
  2. With that end in mind move backwards from the vision to the present.
  3. Then ask: “What do we do today – step by step – to move towards the vision”.
  4. “Back” contrasts with “fore”- casting which takes our past and extends it into the future. Backcasting will move you towards the future you will need.
  5. Talk in the future perfect tense. “By 2020, AMZ will have achieved this next-level shopping experience. And, we will have accomplished…” (What: to stay vital?)
  6. For backcasting slides search the term at Google Images.

Continue reading 93. Amazon (AMZ) Backcasting Strategies

90. Pink Kit Kats v. Niche Domination

On January 18, 2018, after 10 years of development, Nestlé rolled out Ruby chocolate KitKats in Korea and Japan, just in time for Valentine’s day. The pink KitKat, made from the Ruby cocoa bean, will make premium a line that has hundreds of flavors, including green tea and strawberry.

Asian distributors will race to be the first to market with the pink KitKat, but will greater consumption of the KitKat line result? What sustainable edge and profits will distributors get from Nestlé’s promotional bribes and intensive distribution policy?

In 2018, how many U.S. distributors, across channels, will be also racing to market with new micro-niche products within non-exclusive lines? And, for what sustainable gains? Continue reading 90. Pink Kit Kats v. Niche Domination

67. Distributors, Retune Your Brand and Find Your Partners

Your brand statement encompasses your company’s beliefs about your competitive edge. It’s your company mantra. Many distributors proclaim something like, “Our good people deliver good service”. But, most companies don’t have measurable, customer-centric service excellence that could help them earn a dominant share of accounts, have the firmest prices, or become first-choice for supply chain partnerships. Why not retune your brand?

What’s your path to powering your brand with service excellence? So, if you have a big warehouse in a warehouse district and an outside sales force, your future has been here in other channels for some time.

Your Future in a New Service Promise

A promise should be an IF, THEN statement. Most of all, IF your customer buys all they can from you, THEN you will: Continue reading 67. Distributors, Retune Your Brand and Find Your Partners

32. Steal Selling Ideas From Leading Edge Distribution Channels

To reinvent your selling value, look for ideas in the most advanced distribution channels. What are reps in those micro-worlds doing that you can borrow and adapt to yours?

A Technical Product Rep With 4 Customers

Channel reps tout their product expertise. But, my friend, Alex, is the real deal. He sells artificial joint-parts to orthopedic surgeons. His “territory” is four doctors. He assists them in ordering the right, best-fit parts for each patient’s joint and conditions. Then, he often dons surgical scrubs to advise the docs during surgeries. He is the expert when patients have odd joint issues (upon open inspection) or need newer-model or rarely-used parts. Continue reading 32. Steal Selling Ideas From Leading Edge Distribution Channels