Are you a wholesale distributor? How do you process your orders today? If you’re like most wholesale distributors in North America, you have already moved at least some of your orders online. In fact, our 2016 survey of North American Wholesale Distributors showed that a full 57% of distributors say they use eCommerce for at least some of their orders. Of those, 65% of them process more than 20% of their orders online. Plus, the move to online and mobile order management is accelerating. A third of North American distributors already manage a majority (over 50%) of their orders online.


Our survey was conducted online from managers and executives at 200 North American wholesale distributors, across multiple industries. The surveyed companies ranged in size, had a primary B2B focus, and 50% of responses were from distributors with greater than 1,000 employees. 

Nearly all distributors surveyed use a mix of methods to manage their orders today, including sales reps, phone, fax, EDI as well as eCommerce/online order management. Second to eCommerce (33% use as primary) was the use of sales reps, with 30% of distributors citing the sales team as the primary way they manage orders with their channel.

By 2020, eCommerce will be king for distributors, with nearly 58% reporting they expect to manage most of their orders online by 2020.

Emergence of Mobile

While a majority of respondents said their eCommerce site works well on mobile devices, approximately 17% said that their solution was not mobile ready or didn’t know if it was!  This is a real opportunity for those that have yet to update their eCommerce systems. Especially as the typical B2B customer is increasingly younger and mobile, making online ordering mobile friendly will be a key way distributors differentiate themselves and retain customers in 2017 and beyond.

Platforms of Choice

The technology platform choices are also interesting and evolving for distributors. Only 22% said they currently use a modern, cloud-based solution for eCommerce and order management. However, nearly 45% of distributors reported they would like to move to a cloud-based solution, due to its inherent scalability and lower cost, but haven’t yet chosen one.

The Laggards

What about the laggards that haven’t moved online yet? The top reasons cited include “not a priority” as well as “don’t have budget.” Distributors that haven’t moved online are missing out on meeting customer expectations, and will likely have a difficult time retaining some percentage of their customers over time. A 2015 Forrester Research survey showed that 93% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when they know what they’re going to buy.

Are you one of the distributors with an outdated solution, or no solution at all?  Contact us to learn how we can help.