Exclusive Features

What One Million SKUs In the IDW Really Means

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

From time to time, there are events that lead me to turn to some experts to find out the real impact of stories. tED magazine has worked very closely with a number of people from IDEA over the past year, including getting help from IDEA to provide the resources for a monthly column on its efforts. The work has been difficult at times, but reaching the one million SKU milestone in its Data Certification Program in such a short period of time is a true accomplishment.

This is quickly becoming an opportunity for distributors to make even more out of their e-commerce efforts. While many distributors see less than 5% of their business done online, the fact is that number is only going to go up in the future.

“With just a bit of peering into the future and a lot of common sense, we can all see the power of online content in the future,” UnLeash founder Dirk Beveridge told me. “The fundamental question that distributors and manufacturers will need to address is ‘Are we prepared to leverage the awesome potential of data and analytics?'”

Beveridge has worked with distributors and NAED on planning for the future over the past few years, and recently published a book, “Innovate”, which talks about the need for changes during a period when there is so much change in our industry.

“Our traditional relationships with customers are transforming before our very eyes,” Beveridge says “In the next 4 years, 60 – 90% of a B2B buying decisions will be made prior to reaching out to the sales rep.  Customers who once relied on distribution personnel as the keepers of information, are now empowered with online information at their disposal.”

Beveridge adds that getting to 1 million SKUs is no small feat. “The move by manufacturers to supply over 1 million SKUs should be applauded.  This is not an easy decision nor is it easy to pull off.  So, without questions, the manufacturers are making a significant strategic contribution to distributors as channel partners,” Beveridge adds.

Beveridge now says it is up to distributors to use this information to strengthen the supply channel. “Distributors must understand that if they don’t break the sameness trap, if they do not develop new value propositions that add new significant value to the end user, the availability of this new digital information will allow for new partners and new competition to emerge,” Beveridge said.

“I’m optimistic that distributors and manufacturers can raise the level of communication, planning, strategizing, and ultimately trust, to continue to work as true partners in the future.  Our NAED-sponsored research will be providing very important insights here in the next months.  In the end, this milestone of 1 million SKUs will accelerate the change in how we interface with the customer. The traditional methods must be adapted, transformed sooner rather than later,” Beveridge said.

And then Beveridge added one last comment, which should be remembered. 

“This is a complex issue that is worthy of on-going serious conversation,” he added.


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