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.  

Consider recent activity news. The first truckload of B2B, bulky, commodity goods was booked through Amazon Business. What LTL and truckload direct scenarios will be next? And, a survey counted over 1000 startups attacking some aspect of financial services, and 500+ targeting healthcare.

Many distributors are too busy to monitor this digital-invader tidal wave. And many have a mix of products and services that, heretofore, has been problematic for potential predators to attack.

But, if/when outsiders (or innovative, traditional competitors) do encroach, it will be with different business models and these narrow goals: 

1) How to steal your customers’ eyeballs and clickstream to then leverage.  

2) How to skim your most net-profitable orders: ones from low-cost-to-serve, digital-buyers for SKUs with the most margin dollars per pick.

You will keep non-digital-buying, moribund customers and their multitude of losing, small-dollar picks and orders.

Disruptors Are Business-Model Innovators

They don’t compete with innovative products. They target your commodities. They don’t win with proprietary tech anymore. They are using off-the-shelf digital tools. Instead: they explore each step of the end-customer’s buying-journey (or “value-chain”) back to producers. By solving pain-points in the early steps with today’s digital capabilities, they start nibbling into your standard business model.  

You must join this digital buying-journey experience race. Your next-gen customers expect it.    

Questions:

  1. Will you be able to fend off disruptors, if/when they arrive?
  2. How will you adjust if/when key suppliers implement their “omnichannel solutions”?     
  3. Will you use digital-selling tools to innovate customer-centric value to eat into legacy competitors before they eat you?
  4. Millennial, B2B, digital-first buyers don’t want regular calls from reps. They will digitally self-educate and then need humans for higher-level advice, 24/7/365. How will best reps upskill?      
  5. Combining 1-4: will you be able to create custom, e-business models for key accounts?   

Recommendations:

  1. Do customer-centric buying journey-experience innovations before new or old competitors do!  
  2. Stay tuned to my weekly blogs and curated posts on LinkedIn (search: D. Bruce Merrifield, Jr.) More questions, answers, and case examples to follow.

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