Distribution is changing. Or rather, distribution is learning the power of marketing and attempting to convince people that it is changing.
The onslaught of competition from major players in foreign climes edging their way into the UK has brought with it a raft of new strategies and new spin. In the past couple of months we have seen the most distribution noise come from two firms that aren’t UK-based. Both DNS – German buyer of the distribution units of InTechnology – and Horizon Group – which owns equIP and Clarity – have steam-rolled into the UK. They are signing vendors left, right and centre. More importantly, they are making so much noise that it is impossible for even the most loyal VAR not to notice them. And being a new entrant to the UK, it means new credit lines, new Ts&Cs and new possibilities for resellers.
But spin is contagious and now all of the distributors have their dictionaries out and are bandying around more buzzwords and strategy-speak than the average week-long marketing conference.
Many of the homegrown specialist distributors – and even to some extent some of the broadline players – are also hyping up their companies. Some of them are going so far as to distance themselves from the very word ‘distribution’ because it represents the more traditional distribution arena and they are keen to cosy up to a more services-and-solutions definition. However, a company that owns a warehouse, provides products, credit lines and services to help resellers is a distributor, no matter which way it is garnished.
The inevitable is happening: the distribution sector is going through the necessary changes and shake-out that has been predicted. It is evolving into what it needs to be to secure its future, and in doing so it will offer a more valuable service to resellers. Distributors are distributors. And while there are the volume players in the market, there are also the specialist and the value-added players. Each has their own role to play and their own flavour to add. Ultimately though, they are all part of the same family.
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