Distribution’s Newest Mission: Lean in to Help Your Customers Innovate

At NSA Professional Services, we have a hands-on approach to working with distributors to help streamline their operations and drive efficiency, ultimately increasing their profits. One of the ways we do this is by assisting distributors in implementing Infor CloudSuite distribution ERP software and NSA PLUS+ solutions that enhance their ERP operations.

We believe that distributors can discover unimagined opportunities by leaning in and helping their customers innovate in their business. This means working closely with customers to understand their needs and then working back to add new capabilities and experiences in the distributor’s business that complement those innovations.

To achieve this, we emphasize the need for foresight in preparing wisely for the future. At the National Association of Wholesale Distributors (NAW) Business Outside Innovation Forum, distribution leaders and experts were asked to envision the future of distribution and reverse engineer the path that led to that future. This exercise allowed them to identify new opportunities and develop scenario action plans for multiple contingencies. In this blog, we summarize their ideas below. Keep reading for more insight and reference the complete NAW article here.

Based on the findings, three innovation “North Stars” for distributors come to light.

  • First, distributors should lean in to help skilled workers thrive. By providing support and training to workers, distributors can help improve productivity, attract, and retain talent, and ultimately create differentiated customer value. The article states, “Working back to innovate the distributor’s business model, potential changes include: generating revenue through training or mentoring; upgrading sales roles to consult on work practices and management principles; and earning new incentives from manufacturers for building their brands where they matter most—with the people that rely on their products as professionals and breadwinners. Many more innovations are discoverable as distributors and customers work together, following a North Star and leaning in to help skilled workers.”
  • Second, distributors should lean in to help regenerate local communities. Distributors have a unique role to play in supporting their communities and addressing social challenges such as homelessness, affordable housing, and access to healthcare. By leveraging their knowledge, labor, and assets, distributors can make a positive impact on their local communities. “For example, electrical distributors can help every community embrace electric vehicles, promote solar panels and windmills, and build grid-scale batteries by tapping into their suppliers’ capabilities, their technology vendors’ data, and automation solutions, and by working with educators on the leading edge of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Moreover, they can train business owners and their customers on new business practices, tax breaks, digital transformation, and more.”
  • Lastly, distributors should lean in to help customers innovate by operating as a data-driven business. By adopting digital technologies and leveraging data and technology in their operations, distributors can offer market insights to suppliers, forge stronger relationships between customers and their customers, and provide prescriptive prompts to sales that shape stronger customer relationships. The article also states: “Creating collaborative partnerships for innovating as a data-driven company will require human-to-human engagement. That’s where distributors thrive. Distributors have always been people-centered businesses, and in the digital age, they offer the perfect platform for creating partnerships around human values—including trust, commitment, resiliency, and more.”

To successfully implement these innovations, distributors must assemble an innovation team with a deep understanding of the business and experience in solving complex problems using data and technology. Creating collaborative partnerships for innovating as a data-driven company requires human-to-human engagement.

At NSA, we’re dedicated to helping distributors thrive by embracing these innovative approaches. We believe that by focusing on these three ideas, distributors can not only improve their own business but also make a positive impact on their customers, employees, and communities.

Contact us for more information on how NSA supports distributors in their missions to help their customers innovate for everyone’s success.

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