Four primary trends will drive the fortunes of wholesalers and distributors in the business-to-business supply chain over the next few years, according to a study released by Pembroke Consulting and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW). The trends identified in the study "Facing the Forces of Change: The Road to Opportunity" are:
- Fee-based services: Some 80% of wholesaler distributors surveyed for the study said they plan to charge fees separate from product costs. Customers will be slow to accept fees. As a result, says Pembroke Consulting, distributors will be "forced to deliver specific, measurable results as well as maintain a high level of excellence in their core activities."
- Customer self-service: Online opportunities to gather information will likely diminish the perceived value of the wholesale distribution sales force.
- Strategic sourcing: Customers will become more aggressive and gain bargaining power against distributors as they pursue strategic sourcing initiatives. Tools such as online reverse auctions will continue to exist and grow.
- Core business competition: Third-party logistics firms will compete more aggressively with distributors to gain control of the supply chain.