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Author's profile photo Paul Pretko

A3 (Any, Any, Any)

Any, Any, Any

Any channel, any devise, anywhere; that’s the expectation of order placement for customers in today wholesale distribution environment.

Traditional distributors have printed catalogs, back-office order processing, limited channels, and customary stocked products.

In the A3 (Any, Any, Any) world, innovative distributors have real-time digital catalogs, self-service B2B order processing, synchronized channels, and expanded non-stock products (diverted orders). Wholesale distribution commerce is being supplemented by e-commerce. In fact, in NAW book “Facing the Forces of Change”, an e-commerce survey states that 73% of distributors in the US will start using or change their e-commerce solution by 2015.

The value of A3 is that it provides a centralized platform for all partners, it ensures content consistency across channels, it boosts sales with targeted merchandising, it decreases administrative overload with customer self-service, and creates customer loyalty.

What is a B2C experience like without an A3 solution? Well, yesterday I ordered a new watch from a New York website for my birthday. This afternoon when still had not received an order confirmation, I was forced to call them (painfully to get a live person). Not only did they receive my order, but it was already shipped, and my credit card had been charged. These guys’ channels were not in sync. There was no single experience with consistent information that notified me of the transaction progress to ease my uncertainty. This same situation occurs in the B2B world as well. E-commerce interactions and transactions across call centers, web sites, and mobile apps often not unified and have inconsistent data.

Not only does the experience and transaction information need to be consistent, but the product data need to be accurate as well.

PCM (Product Content Management) solutions help distributors centralize the management of multiple data sources and give them a single view of data across channels. They also enable efficient mass editing and content enrichment, improve data quality and reliability, and most importantly improve the customer experience and satisfaction. PCM is for foundation required for B2B.

I believe it is clear that good B2C personal experiences, like Amazon, have driven A3 demands in the B2B world. A world where geographic boundaries are less important, small distributors cannot be determined from large ones, products don’t have to stocked, and virtual showrooms can capture market share from brick and mortar distributors.

To remain relevant, traditional distributors need to make business transactions incredibly easy and information consistent. They need to leverage technology that can unify customer interactions across products, brands, geographies and (communication) channels. A3 is here, and as channel extend, distributors most replace legacy technologies that limit business change.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Very interesting Paul.  I especially agree with your comment about how B2C sites (like Amazon and others) have raised the expectations of B2B buyers.

      Author's profile photo Mike Wise
      Mike Wise

      I feel like you are preaching to the choir.  Every distributor I work with is asking themselves:  Am I easy to do business with?  Can my customers order on line, on the phone, with a mobile device and yes even in person or Fax.  Then if they can order on line is the experience good enough to have them come back for another order or ideally order something they did not plan on ordering.  Today's distributor, if they want to succeed, needs A3