Pandemic-related restaurant closures led to demand spikes for C&S Wholesale Grocers over several weeks, even as the distributor had to find enough drivers and keep its workers safe, says Carmela Hinderaker, senior director of business continuity and customer support. However, workers "still went out there, and they still delivered groceries," she says.
Independent grocers have been at a disadvantage during the pandemic because suppliers aren't treating them the same as big-box retailers and large grocery chains, says David Smith, president and CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers. He wants manufacturers and suppliers to be more transparent about how much they produce and how they allocate products.
To handle increased freight demand, trucking companies are purchasing more vehicles, hosting employment events and offering higher wages, with Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings increasing pay for recently certified drivers by at least 40%. Driver supply may not match freight needs until early 2022, according to ACT Research President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth.
Warehouse storage rack systems have become "highly engineered," according to Arlin Keck of rack manufacturer Steel King, and companies need to design and redesign them carefully to promote worker safety and efficiency. Workflow, code requirements and loading conditions should all be considered, industry experts say.
Business-to-business marketers can transform their content marketing creation process by encouraging employees to become creators to boost their reputations and enhance the standing of their department, writes Tiga Creative Marketing's Stuart Coe. Maintain a content pipeline by creating and distributing a content calendar, freeing up employee time for content creation, outsourcing ad hoc content, and integrating keyword research for search engine optimization, Coe advises.
Salespeople can avoid feeling blindsided by a customer suddenly losing interest in a deal by making contact with more people within the organization, writes Colleen Francis. Not only does engaging with more contacts give salespeople more people to talk to, but it also widens their presence within the client's business and provides a better perspective on the company's needs.
One-on-one meetings won't be effective when managers use them to find fault, overlook opportunities to improve or dominate the conversation, writes Dan Rockwell. "Establish a culture where employees control most of the agenda during one-on-ones," he writes.
To help distributors move past the pandemic successfully, every new copy of INNOVATE TO DOMINATE ordered now includes -- at no extra charge -- a brand-new e-chapter called "Distribution Leans In: Stories of Resiliency and Innovation during the COVID-19 Pandemic." NAW has added this new e-chapter to give distributors immediate ways to apply all the lessons of INNOVATE TO DOMINATE as they emerge from the unprecedented challenges to a stronger business future. It's time for distributors to change the game and dominate the future of wholesale distribution.
Guest blogger Jason Hein of Bloomreach says, "The first thing that distributors must do is to stop competing with Amazon Business and start competing like Amazon. Competing with Amazon implies a "head-to-head" battle of tactical process excellence -- where the way to win is to do what you do better than Amazon does. Some B2B distributors consider things like contract pricing, inventory management, services provided to customers or product expertise to be "moats" that will protect their business from Amazon." Read his post.
The pandemic is forcing many distributors to reevaluate their supply chains to create more resilient models. At the heart of "Optimizing Channel Profitability" is a common ground for distributors and manufacturers to focus on making a one-to-one connection among a supplier's channel compensation, a distributor's capabilities and customer value, all leading to a process where all three entities can have constructive, objective dialogue rather than subjective, selective fault-finding. If you're looking to strengthen your value proposition post COVID-19, this resource will help.