Having the opportunity to travel to one of the most prestigious events in the distribution industry just 3 weeks into my employment is incredible, to say the least. My first couple of weeks here at DCKAP have been an up and down roller coaster with the realization of all the responsibilities that come with a professional setting. Our CEO, Karthik Chidambaram, has done an amazing job promoting staff development and travel opportunities, allowing us the flexibility to approach problems as we see best. This exemplifies the culture that DCKAP is so proud of, and what will propel this organization forward.
The National Association of Wholesalers (NAW)
The National Association of Wholesalers (NAW) is a conglomerate of distributors that work together to discuss policy, emerging technologies, and market trends that will affect distributors for years to come. The NAW organization led by CEO Eric Hoplin is centered around protecting the rights of distributors in the industry and promoting collaboration from current competitors. With inflation acting as an ongoing topic during the conference, many distributors are now working to preserve the integrity of their resources while also keeping pricing issues in check.
Staffing shortages are also plaguing many employers worldwide. According to data presented by Leonard Brody at the 2022 NAW Executive Summit, there are only 0.6 people available to work for every job position available. What this means is that for every 10 job openings, there will only be 6 qualified candidates ready to fill the positions. This has led to a conversation of increased wages for labor to combat this problem. Another potential solution that will have long-term effects on the workforce is Automation. With the shortage of employees rising, companies are turning towards automated services to perform non-value-adding commodity tasks. As this trend continues, employers must realize what they are sacrificing in terms of customer service and true human capital. Once the organization has no more culture, they are dead in the water!
The conference also introduced new ways to think about emerging technologies such as blockchains and NFTs. With Web3 becoming more prominent daily, it is about time for us to recognize the potential opportunities and how they may benefit us and our industry. Recognizing these opportunities and implementing solutions is how market leaders achieve and keep their top positions and establish themselves for generations.
The future of distribution is now. As distribution leaders, we must be ready for a downturn such as the recession of 2007. Some strategies to combat this process include moving to variable costs, building a war chest, mergers and acquisitions, and downsizing. Different industry channels will begin to shift to better-fit consumers’ needs. Getting to the customer becomes more about marketing and less about sales; Experiential retail that e-commerce can never replace. Retail has to become more creative in attracting customers. Selling direct to consumers is essential for wholesalers who operate in a responsive supply chain driven by demand.
Making money directly with the customer offsets the loss of wholesaling and makes the distribution industry more profitable. A full-service supply chain would be beneficial for all parties involved. Shared information throughout integrated supply chains will give all reliable information and build up the resilience of the supply chain. Web3 and blockchain are the next levels of these contracts and smart contracts will become the new means for exchanging data. New RFID-like systems will emerge that are capable of tracking every transaction on the blockchain.
LEAN distribution methods utilizing customer feedback will improve the operations of distributors and retailers. Creating value in the supply chain by maximizing profits for distributors and adding value for consumers. Improving customers and downstream partners improve our operations and allow for collaborative distribution.
The innovative spirit and talent of our company at each level and department leave no doubt about what we can accomplish. We should all aspire to create the best product, service, or experience possible for each person we come across. Becoming market leaders and innovators should be the goal for each individual part of this organization if we wish to introduce leading technologies to the distribution industry. Inter-Department collaboration can be used to create new ideas and find ways to implement them. Recognizing our strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities will allow us to best serve our customers and create solutions that they don’t know they need yet!