Survey: Distributors View Amazon Business as Biggest Threat

More than half lack a strategy to combat the eCommerce giant, Unilog finds.

Distributors and wholesalers overwhelmingly regard Amazon Business as their biggest threat, dwarfing other concerns. That’s one of the findings Unilog released recently, after surveying 244 manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.

Surprisingly, 52 percent of those same survey respondents admit they don’t have a strategy for competing with Amazon Business. And 43 percent of manufacturers surveyed said they sell direct on Amazon Business, often bypassing their traditional distribution channel.

The survey spotlighted a number of challenges the respondents face in eCommerce. Notably, more than half of respondents said it took them more than nine months to go live with an eCommerce site.

“Perhaps the number-one reason that so many B2B companies are unhappy with the time it takes to launch their eCommerce site is that they’re trying to achieve too much in one Big Bang moment,” says Brian Lombardo, VP of solution delivery at Unilog. “We recommend launching a new site in a rapid time frame and then evolving site capabilities and design over the years. You have to take a crawl, walk, run approach. It’s important to get your new site live as quickly as possible to recognize the business benefits.”

More highlights:

  • Nearly 80 percent of distributors said their eCommerce channel sales have grown over the past 24 months, while just 20 percent have seen stagnant or slowly decreasing sales
  • 44 percent of respondents claim that 20 percent or more of their revenue comes from online sales (not including EDI)
  • 37 percent of distributors are focused on converting traditional buyers to online customers, 31 percent are concentrating on generating incremental revenue online — and 22 percent of distributor say they don’t have a good eCommerce strategy

“To fend off Amazon, B2B companies should focus more energy on product content,” says Unilog CEO Suchit Bachalli. “Better product content drives more eCommerce. That could mean the basics, such as cleaner product descriptions and specs, standardization of naming conventions, and crisp photos taken from various angles. It could also mean diagrams, videos, companion product information, and other useful content to help the buyer make an informed decision. The most successful distributors find ways to share their expertise online.”

Main image: This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, shows the Amazon logo. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

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