Your brand statement encompasses your company’s beliefs about your competitive edge. It’s your company mantra.

Many distributors proclaim something like, “Our good people deliver good service,” but most companies don’t have measurable, customer-centric service excellence that could help them earn a dominant share of accounts, have the firmest prices or become first-choice for supply-chain partnerships.

What’s your path to powering your brand with service excellence? If you have a big warehouse in a warehouse district and an outside salesforce, your future has been here in other channels for some time. 


A new service promise

A promise should be an “if, then” statement. If your customer buys all they can from you, then you will: 

  • Lower or optimize all 11 elements of total procurement cost, including price;
  • Minimize employee downtime costs due to avoidable stock-outs;
  • Maximize uptime and on-time productivity for better customer satisfaction and retention; and
  • Be able to partner in a continuously improving, win-win, supply-chain relationship.

McDonald’s started partnering with its distributors in 1956 — many that they still have today. In the 1980s, entire retail channels switched to integrated sole-supply contracts (drug, grocery). In the 1990s, the hospital supply channel went the supply-chain route. And, the biggest accounts in other channels have been increasingly migrating to supply-chain buying solutions since the mid-1990s.


Replenishment partnerships

Do all customers want replenishment partnerships? No! Supply-chain partnerships work only when both parties can realize, co-create and share system savings. About 5% of customers and distributors seem willing and able to synergize. All others increase costs by struggling over price.  

The customers who are ripe for win-win partnerships are:

  • Ambitious, innovative and growing fast;
  • Open and progressive; and
  • Already giving you big net profits to offset your losing accounts. 

These customers have ready-when-you-are capabilities (including team selling) so you can grow with them instead of a competitor.


Upgrade your partnering capabilities

To partner you need an augmented product with features such as this (in this order):

One-stop shopping with the highest guaranteed fill rates;

Basic service excellence, including zero errors, 100% on-time delivery, plus five or more service metrics tuned to the customer and/or their niche; and

Extra services to sell, install, maintain and improve supply-chain math-based solutions.

To become customer-centric, retune these components guided by deeper insights from additional customer-needs research and customer-profitability analytics at the line-item level.

Providing standard service with rep-does-all coverage just can’t win. 


This article was originally titled “Retune your brand” in the October 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.