Early in my consulting career I had the good fortune and pleasure of working as a project manager with wholesale distribution firms as they implemented inventory, order-processing and financial-management systems. Over a 10-year period I met some of the most interesting and committed individuals in the business world. Midsized distributors many times are run by entrepreneurs who are very creative in earning and maintaining their market share. In fact, they are often real characters who believe that making a good profit is a God-given entitlement. They are also fierce competitors with boundless energy … and they hire some of most intriguing, unique and sometimes downright ornery employees around.
Consider the fact that in the 1990s many manufacturers mounted a serious effort to eliminate the middleman and distribute their products directly to the companies or people who made up their customer base. The effort was called “disintermediation”. Here’s a simple definition from Merriam Webster: “the elimination of an intermediary in a transaction between two partners.”
Trust me when I tell you that that word was on the lips of executives of wholesale organizations from coast to coast. Seminars existed to help companies combat the trend, both legally and via business process improvements. I had the honor of speaking to a group of distributors in Milwaukee during that period and met with some genuinely concerned but determined business owners. These were smart, savvy people who clearly listened to, understood and acted upon the message embodied in “the voice of the customer”.
Ultimately the wholesalers prevailed but it certainly wasn’t due to legal action. It was simply due to the inability of the manufacturers to deliver the level of customer service that had become part of the fabric of the wholesale organizations. These companies were determined to have the people and tools necessary to deliver stellar service to their customers…every day, in every way possible.
It was right around then that I coined the phrase “the delivery system is of equal or greater importance than the product being delivered”. Those bold distributors had to become the ultimate delivery system.
Not much has changed today. Distributors still need to stay on the cutting edge of technology and process improvement to ensure that they can continue to deliver the stellar customer service their customers demand. Luckily they can count on world class products such as SAP Business One and distribution focused consulting firms like ACUMEN Corporation to assist with those goals.
You see, SAP Business One is an outstanding software system for distributors and ACUMEN Corporation is the delivery system. A winning combination.