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It used to be that if

you got what you ordered from your distributor -- and you got it within a reasonable amount of time -- you were sitting pretty.But in today's sophisticated and competitive business environment, distri...

November 1, 2000  

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you got what you ordered from your distributor — and you got it within a reasonable amount of time — you were sitting pretty.

But in today’s sophisticated and competitive business environment, distributors have to do more than just “deliver the goods”. They have to deliver them with a smile (and a plethora of value-added services). For in a world where customer service is always top of mind, simply getting products from point A to point B just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Smart distributors know they must offer — as a modest minimum — competitive prices, fast delivery and technical assistance to stay in the game. And that’s just the bare bones. To really meet customers’ needs, distributors are finding they have to go the extra mile — all in the name of satisfying their clients today and anticipating their needs for tomorrow.

With an eye toward this future, progressive distributors are developing new ways of conducting business and communicating with their customers, including using the Internet for on-line business transactions.

Most of the bigger names already offer on-line business services to their customers. Case in point is Wesco International Inc.’s — an on-line source for electrical, data communications, and utility products and services around the clock.

Also interesting is an offering from Nedco, called the Expert Estimator, the company’s integrated software product that is pre-loaded with in-stock electrical and communication products, and both trade and personalized prices. The product allows you to create quotations, estimates, budgets, invoices and purchase orders on your PC.

Already ahead of the game is Anixter, whose e-business site (eAnixter) provides customers with order status tracking, and will provide online procurement and other useful services in the future. While not yet operational in Canada, the site has been in operation for several months in Europe and was introduced recently in the United States for testing.

It seems that business-to-business e-commerce is the next big stride for distributors (please see Getting the Goods on p. 20). Customers look forward to the day when they will be able to go on-line to place all of their orders, check the status of these orders, check the availability of a distributor’s products, get technical assistance and so on — quickly and easily.

It’s the logical next step — and things will likely not end there. For just as customers are asking more of their distributors today, they will need even more from them tomorrow. And to keep up (and keep customers) sharp distributors will be working furiously to devise new and efficient ways to give customers what they want.

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