Affiliated Distributors recently announced its continued investment in its membership’s ability to better compete in the world of eCommerce through its AD eContent Service program.
Bill Weisberg, AD’s chairman and CEO, says, “Independent wholesale distributors’ battle for a level playing field must be fought anywhere that nationals are able to use their size and leverage to create a competitive advantage for themselves to the potential detriment of independents. And one place that this battle must clearly be engaged and fought is on the Internet.”
The program includes a comprehensive content management solution which includes a shared Master eCatalog and Web Portal, along with member Specific Sub-Catalog and Store Front options.
Weisberg continues, “We have full time staff members working inside AD specifically to support eCommerce for our members, we have active engagements with business partners and consultants, and we are making direct investments along side our AD members for the express purpose of helping the AD Independents compete and win on the Internet. This includes eContent production, paid search demand generation and the purchase of licenses and technology. Our model is Member defined because we believe that distributors understand better than anyone how products should be organized (taxonomy) and what pieces of data are the most important about the products (attributes).”
The AD Industrial Division has undertaken and funded the build out of two million product SKUs and marketing content and maintenance to support them on an ongoing basis. The AD Electrical and Pipe, Valve & Fittings Divisions are revising the eCommerce initiatives they started several years ago to follow this model so that all seven AD divisions can leverage the group’s multi-Divisional economies of scale and share ongoing production costs and content.
Jack Templin, AD’s president, Industrial Division elaborates on the program, “AD’s eContent initiative will result in a library of richly attributed and maintained SKU data that our members can use in their web storefronts. Ultimately, we will have millions of SKUs for our members use. The national chains have entire departments with of hundreds of employees dedicated to building and maintaining of content. Even our largest members may only be able to staff up five or six people to do that. When we work on something collaboratively, we're able to do something bigger together.”
Ed Crawford, AD’s president, Electrical Division, shares, “This is a game changer for our Members. Current data sources in the electrical industry lack consistency across suppliers as well as the marketing content needed to support a good eCommerce solution. There are a lot of people out there addressing this need for good eContent on their own — working to build a database that reflects their needs. But what they are finding is this is an incredible undertaking. Just getting the data in the format needed and keeping it current requires dedicated resources. However, working together we can build a cost effective solution for our Members.”
Jeffrey Beall, AD’s president, PHCP Divisions says, “AD has always been on the forefront of innovation. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives our Members to stay ahead of the competitive landscape is demonstrated once again. This cross Divisional initiative goes to the strength of the AD value proposition.”
To implement the program, AD has strategically partnered with Unilog, a global technology company specializing in eCommerce and enriched product catalogs for the B2B marketplace to provide its CIMM2 platform to its members.
Suchit Bachalli, president of Unilog North America, adds, “We believe this is a watershed moment in wholesale distribution. When you look at the collective power that AD brings, this program is going to have a meaningful impact on the entire industry. We’re very pleased to be partnering with AD to deliver this program to its members, helping them to achieve a superior eCommerce presence. Our platform, CIMM2, is uniquely designed to address the host of complex integration challenges that wholesale distributors often face when deploying an online storefront, hindering them from competing in a digital world. By providing the right tools and technology, we want to help these businesses eliminate the boundaries prohibiting them from making eCommerce a reality.”