Category Archives: Distribution Industry Sales

171. AmazonCommercial’s Towels and Tissue (T&T) “Experiment”

A B2B Channel-Threat?

In June 2019, Amazon introduced a new B2B brand: AmazonCommercial. The first items in the line?  T&T! (For more search AmazonCommercial at AMZ).  

What’s Amazon thinking? Amazon Business has gotten traction with a “long-tail”, MRO/SKU strategy specifically aimed at huge entities. AMZ has attracted an army of resellers to curate millions of B2B SKUs. And, in parallel, AMZ has created two cloud solutions: integrations for 60+ internal procurement systems, and free, central-spend-management tools. This evolving proposition now wins up to 20% of a typical big-buyer’s MRO spend.  

AMZ’s next B2B moves? Target some bulky, big-volume, consumable, SKU? All employers do buy T&T… but how price-competitive can AMZ be? Or, conversely, how net-profitable are T&T for distributors?  

A Distributor’s T&T, Net-Profit Math

Checking with a “Jan-San” distributor who subscribes to Waypoint Analytics’ “Net-Profit Analytics” cloud-service, here’s what we found:

  1. The distributor breaks even overall on warehouse business. Direct sales account for all operating profits.  
  2. The 7000+ warehouse SKUs were sorted into 100+ product categories.
  3. Ranking the product categories by net-profits: the top 25 totaled big profits, enough to pay for 100% of all losing product groups.
  4. The biggest losing category was equipment parts. The category has an excellent margin percentage. But, the many small-dollar picks have less margin-dollar content than the fulfillment-dollar costs to yield losses. The size of both picks/orders and fulfillment costs matter.   
  5. Two of the top 5 most net-profitable categories were T&T! The categories’ low margin percentages were more than offset by large, average-dollars/pick.  
  6. No big customers have yet to negotiate with AMZ T&T prices.

Questions to Live Into:     

  1. What will Amazon invent for in-the-cloud buying tools, bulk-distribution capabilities, and/or business-model partnerships, to win more B2B spend? And, more B2B searches and clickstream data to monetize via advertising?   
  2. Why are legacy channel players blind to the net-profit/loss cross-subsidies that exist amongst both SKUs and customers?
  3. Won’t both AMZ and big-boxes introduce more private-label clone SKUs to eat into channels’ most net-profitable SKUs?
  4. Will channel players beat AMZ to inventing an in-the-cloud, channel-model for skid-quantity consumables? (I can envision such a game-changing model.) 
  5. What analytics do factories and distributors need to minimize AMZ’s takes while maximizing gains from slow-moving, traditional competitors?

For more, be in touch: bruce@merrifield.com. Waypoint clients can also attend my Nov 7th workshop. Link below.

169. What Happened to “Total Quality Management”, etc.

Remember Back In the 70’s…

When Japanese products surpassed the quality of US goods. Then, zero-defect methods jumped to the US in the ‘80’s. (Phil Crosby’s book, “Quality is Free” was published on 1/1/80.) And, “Do It Right The First Time” became the high service-value, low cost, high morale way to go.   

Continue reading 169. What Happened to “Total Quality Management”, etc.

161. How Digital Disruptors (Will) Skim Distributor Sales

Digital-Disruptors are Multiplying!

Today: digital disruptors are attacking most industries. In ’95, a few startups invaded easiest B2C product categories with their own homemade digital tools. Today, raiders are targeting every “buying-journey experience” with off-the-shelf digital tools from cloud providers. Barriers to buying-journey innovation have fallen for both startups and your firm.  

Continue reading 161. How Digital Disruptors (Will) Skim Distributor Sales

159. Distributors: Get Re-Bundling Flexible

Your Standard Service Bundle?

When you quote a customer a “price”, what are the services that are bundled (“for free”) into that price? A typical distributor-bundle includes costs for: outside and inside reps, pick, pack, shipping, and trade credit. Bigger customers usually get extra services “for free”. Small ones may have a minimum order size requirement and/or an un-bundled freight charge. (A tough sell with Amazon’s free shipping policies.)

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157. “Only The Paranoid Survive” 2.0

Andy Grove’s Book and Quote

Grove was a founder of Intel, and its CEO from ’87 to ’98. He wrote an acclaimed book on what he had learned: “Only the Paranoid Survive”, published in ’99.  His summary quote:

Continue reading 157. “Only The Paranoid Survive” 2.0