Digital trends in distribution

5 Digital Trends in Wholesale Distribution

We are witnessing an unmatched era of market change and true business innovation. Industry lines are becoming blurred, offering new opportunities–but also creating new competition. Distribution companies need to innovate and adapt, or they will lose market share. Breakthrough technologies have been driving and enabling some of these trends. Now they have matured and hit scale together, enabling five defining trends:

Hyper connectivity

In a digital economy, we are witnessing an explosion in connections at the business, individual, and machine level. And the numbers continue to grow at an impressive speed. This enables new insights and new, agile business processes across the complete value chain (e.g., more accurate forecasts, predictive maintenance, tailored customer offers, or proactive service).


The limits of 20th-century computing power are gone. In-memory computing enables true real-time business and eliminates the separation of transactional and analytical applications. Contextual information is available to help make informed decisions. You can identify challenges and solve them before they become a problem. And you can do this while optimizing business operations and providing supreme customer service.

Cloud Computing

In a highly competitive market, wholesale companies need to be able to adopt new technology and drive business innovation at lightning speed. Cloud computing and hybrid deployment models will accelerate time to value, drive higher adoption of new technologies, and connect value chains in real time.

Smarter World

Smarter robots, smarter printing, artificial intelligence, and smarter products will completely reshape value chains, enable new business models, and ultimately change the world. For example, smart vending machines at a customer site not only open a new channel, but also increase customer loyalty. Drones enable not only a different delivery method, but also completely new service and maintenance models.


Several recent high-profile, massive data breaches have made securing customer and financial data a top priority for CIOs. Contrary to popular perception, hackers are not the primary culprits in the majority of security incidents. Often the threat comes from within the company. Technology and proper governance are required for all data, interactions, identities, and business partners –any vulnerability could lead to catastrophe.
Early Adopters Are Winning
The pace of change is staggering. Leading wholesale distributors are preparing to use digital tools to find new answers to questions such as:

  • What are the profitable new business models and trends like marketplaces, 3D printers, drones, smart vending, and data science?
  • How do we capitalize on the demand for more and new services in a hyper connected world?
  • Which trends and technologies from adjacent industries are influencing distributors (retail, consumer products, and life science manufacturers)? And does it matter, or are the new market disruptors the real threat?

Disruptors are emerging quickly and from unexpected places. Early adopters are winning. Distribution companies that embrace the digital world and execute a digital strategy grow shareholder and stakeholder value. They are growing at a rate faster than their peers. Today, every business is a technology business. Big picture? The digital economy is real and will continue to transform wholesale distribution business.

How are you going to transform your wholesale distribution business? Share your insights in the comments below.

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