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Study Examines Forces Of Change In Wholesale Distribution

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.
The study's findings are based on responses from some 1,400 wholesale distribution and manufacturing executives. A free summary of the report is available from Philadelphia-based Pembroke Consulting at The complete study can be purchased from NAW at
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