How is distribution changing? We ask 100 resellers

Distribution is a crucial part of the channel’s supply chain, and with distributors offering a whole suite of services today, resellers and retailers are looking for more than just basic shipping methods. PCR speaks to more than 100 resellers, asking them for their anonymous opinions on what distributors do well, and what they can improve on…

With the tech channel moving fast, the need for a distributor is still a vital chink in the armour for most retailers and resellers in the channel, as they try to keep abreast of trends and growth areas.

Now that there are new product categories, with the likes of wearable technology, smart home devices and cloud services, the need for a trusting and reliable distributor has never been more imperative.

In our survey, we ask 100 anonymous resellers for their views on distributors. The range of stock available from disties is the biggest benefit for retailers, as 29 per cent say they like the fact that there is a broad range of stock on tap from their distie, closely followed by competitive prices, with 16 per cent stating reasonable prices are what they appreciate the most.

In comparison, many of those who took part are disgruntled by how difficult it is to contact some distributors, and have asked for better communication and sales support from account managers.

But it is not all bad news, the fact that more retailers are using their distributor as a one-stop shop will be music to suppliers ears, with 11 per cent revealing this was the most valuable characteristic of their distributor.

Overall, it seems distributors have been performing well over the last year, as 73 per cent of respondents tell PCR that they are satisfied with how helpful their current distributor is.

Let’s find out what else the industry’s resellers feel disties are excelling at, as well as what they could try to improve upon.

What frustrates you the most about distributors?

29 per cent of resellers note that overpriced goods are their biggest bugbear.

This is closely followed by issues with stock shortages and a lack of specific vendors available from their distributor.

Some of the other frustrations that resellers have with distributors include issues with stock (15 per cent), contact (10 per cent) and delivery (10 per cent).

Account managers can be another frustrating aspect when working with a distie, with five per cent of resellers stating that they would like to see improvements with managers.

Another reseller comments: “One of the frustrating things is when account management goes wrong. That can take a while to resolve, sometimes that’s happened in the past and that’s the only point of contact.”

Other resellers revealed that locating disties online often proved troublesome, while a couple said they were unhappy that their disties may have lied to them.

What is the main benefit of using a distributor?

Stock is the main reason resellers choose to work with a distributor, with 29 per cent revealing to PCR that the level of stock disties have and the wide range of vendors is a major benefit.

One reseller tells PCR: “Distributors offer quality products, which are officially sourced.”

In addition, another adds that the fact their supplier offers discounts on volumes is another benefit.

Interestingly, advice and support is the main reason 15 per cent of resellers have distie partners, with resellers appreciating the time given to them by their account managers.

One anonymous reseller says: “A one stop shop is ideal, and distributors stock most of the manufacturers we use.”

It seems this reseller wasn’t the only one who enjoyed picking up all their goods from one single distie, as 11 per cent labelled their distie a one-stop shop for tech products.

Other benefits for resellers include getting credit and the distie having a strong reputation. 

On a scale of one to five, how helpful would you say your main distributor is?

It’s clear to see that a lot of resellers (36 per cent) believe that their current distributor is very helpful.

Speaking to the different resellers, 37 per cent indicate that their distributors are somewhat helpful, while 20 per cent are unsure of how helpful their current suppliers are.

Although the majority of those who took part in the survey reveal that they are satisfied with the service given, six per cent of respondents are not very happy with their service, while just one per cent are not happy at all.

What would you like to see more of from distributors?

The answers to this question are similar to what we heard in the previous questions.

It seems more competitive pricing is something resellers are looking for, with 39 per cent of respondents saying that this was an issue. One explains: “We would like to see better pricing for SMEs to compete with online.”

Another adds: “I’d like to see a larger drop in sales prices and more help for indie stores.”

Other resellers are also looking for improved support and communication between their supplier, as one tells PCR: “Disties need to get more involved in what the local market conditions are. It’s very hard for smaller companies to compete with multinationals. There needs to be a next level, something needs to change. But all distribution is doing much better than it previously did.”

16 per cent of resellers suggested other options, including better feedback on ETAs, cohesion across departments, more marketing material, loyalty cards, more facilities and incentives, and having more visits from representatives.

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