Sunday, May 31, 2015

The 4 "C"ornerstones of Distribution

This one comes to us from the NAW - National Association of Wholesalers , and whiles it's not earth shattering or new. I felt it was worth repeating,  Thanks to the Internet, more products than ever before are becoming commoditized.  After all, anyone can search online to find just about anything, so what's left to compete on?

Image result for cornerstoneYou need to make your business distinctive
according to Scott McKain, founder of McKain Performance Group Inc. "You need to reimagine your role in the value chain," he said at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit this year in Washington, DC. To stand out in an increasingly crowded market, distributors must develop four "cornerstones of distinction," McKain said. Of Course all of these can also be aided by the right software tools.


Image result for clarityIf you don't understand what makes you different, how can you expect your customer to understand it? McKain said. And if you haven't clearly defined it, how can you understand it? Clarity of your distinction helps direct your efforts around achieving your goals. By using the MDS-Nx system you can utilize a single 360 degree view and of customer and manage all touch points, web , phone ,email etc so your message is clear. Example "We sell on the highest grade generic pharmaceuticals" make sure this message is on all communication and is repeated on every call. It becomes your identify and makes you stand out.  You can do other things as well - but focus on your primary message. And make it clear.


Don't get caught up in doing the same thing you've always done – or what your competitors are doing. What can you do to stand out from the competition? It doesn't have to be complex, just distinct. Pick a single point to focus on and execute that point creatively. Using software you can track customers purchase and buying patterns and make suggestions based upon those patterns. Innovate by being an advocate or explain how others you sell to are using these products.


Image result for communication"Sales is no longer about providing information," McKain said. "It's about providing insight." Information is readily available on the Internet for anyone willing to look; today's sales people need to be able to share a story about the role their companies play in improving how others do business. See the creativity item above , its' the same concept but expanding it to outbound sales, it's not just about the product specials you can offer, it's about how those specials will help your customers provide better service and ultimately grow their businesses as well.

Customer experience focus

Image result for customer focusDistribution is not just a transaction business. Making sales is a big part of the goal, but your customers likely aren't going to remember the transaction. They're going to remember the experience. Describe for yourself a scenario where everything goes exactly right with a customer, then identify what you must do to achieve that with every customer encounter. What roadblocks keep you from providing that ultimate customer experience? Document each encounter using the MDS-Nx integrated CRM system and build the model of interaction based upon what each customer likes, keep track of birthdays, kids name's , specific dates (like when the contract price comes up for review) and tailor your sales model around those key pieces of information.  Setup weekly or monthly communications based upon customer need and preference. And followup on their time frames this will keep them as a happy and engaged customer who want to talk to you.

By building your business with these four cornerstones you will be able to differentiate yourself and standout from the sea of folks offering similar or the same products as you are. It's a service industry as much as a commodity industry and you have to watch both.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to

Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Viva La Revolucion

Welcome to the supply chain revolution

"Sharing your data is not communism"

As more consumers shift to online shopping and the “omnichannel” retail model becomes the norm, experts say the old supply chain model is beginning to see fundamental changes.
E-commerce sales are growing at a healthy clip and are expected to account for more than 10% of total retail sales by 2016. As much as 60% of all retail sales originate online even though they may be completed at a brick-and-mortar retail store.

Changes in retail are being driven by technology advancements and that we can’t control. As such the supply chain is changing to accommodate these new paradigms.
Supply chain members and third party logistics partners had better be aware of these changes and make better use of technology to make sure they stay on top of the latest trends.

The Shift to Omnichannel means that consumers now use use various methods and devices to research, purchase and receive goods, but think about it this way, search costs are lower in the virtual world and firms can position inventory somewhere upstream in the supply chain. This in term helps them gain efficiencies and is one of the main reasons they are able to offer lower prices. The omnichannel model allows for larger assortment possibilities, endless aisles for your customers to browse. Your catalog just increased with no real cost basis, using three technologies that may have finally come of age:

Image result for virtual fulfillment1. Virtual Fulfillment (Drop Shipping)
More retailers including big box stores, are starting to move toward drop shipments in the which is a direct shipment from the supplier to the end-user. Instead of stocking inventory in a warehouse location  you can keep inventory upstream which provides for lower safety stocks and lowering the uncertainty that exists when holding your own stock.
Worried about the lack of inventory visibility and loss of control of the service to the end-user - no worries see options number two and three.

Users of the MDS-Nx system can use technology to provide the inventory visibility and tracking the products through each phase of the supply chain.
The challenge for 3PL providers  and supply chain members are the cost of infrastructure expansion to service higher demands and sourcing the qualified technical talent to handle this data exchange. Partnering with a technology provider familiar with the terminology and able to bring real world examples is one way to mitigate the work involved in this change.

2. Sharing the Final Mile

Image result for final mileToday the final mile of delivery is the costliest part of the supply chain, comprising about 25% of the total expense. The Uber model for the final mile holds some real opportunity for new players in the supply chain. Or those ready to work with the new tools. The Uber model uses crowd-sourced consumers to pick-up and drop-off ordered items to customers at a far cheaper rate than traditional courier and short-distance shippers, or running your own trucks.
Image result for uber As more retailers are signing on to the Uber-like final mile service expects to see it be more prevalent in the business to business environment.
Remember the final mile is also a challenge for transportation providers whose pricing models have been built on long hauls. But the demand for final mile delivery will only increase and carriers need to figure out how to take advantage of the change, while keeping your costs as low as possible.

3. Vendor Managed or Virtually Managed Inventory

A third technology that seems to have finally come of age is Vendor or Virtually managed inventory. These will help the inventory inaccuracies that exist within the supply chain. 
Image result for connected chainInventory inaccuracies are still a huge problem for the seller and the suppliers and arguably a big problem for customer service. Often we use the drop shipping and last mile delivery to promise goods but without knowing there the inventory is our ability to tell customers when the item will ship and be at the locations they need it is limited. 
In the Health care space this can cost thousands of dollars or even lives in the case of surgical kits and home health related products.  
As such investment in the first two technologies means you also need to invest in getting inventory in real-time so know can knowledgeably forecast and track shipments. 
Suppliers and other supply chain partners have to do their homework and they also must become more integrated as the supply chain of the future will be an open system dependent upon unique and advanced technology.

The Future is now Suppliers have to integrate from the top to bottom of the chain and then within their companies. It’s going to take more investment in technology for most if they are able to become more responsive and agile so that they can bring products fast to wherever they are required.

Sharing your data is no communism it's a simple two way street and capitalism at it's best. It is market driven demand for products and services that force a business to react. 
Welcome to the Revolution!! 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to

Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.