10 Ways the Distribution Industry Is Being Reshaped for the Future

Because of the central role distributors play, many other industries will also be impacted by the changes.

Virtually every industry depends on the distribution industry.

Whether they work in the packaging, food service, health care, or cleaning industry, distributors are needed to ensure products from one organization reach their target—and ultimately the end customer—in the fastest, most cost-efficient manner possible.

However, over the next decade, the distribution industry will be reshaped. Moreover, because of the central role distributors play, many other industries will be affected as well.

Gretchen Freidrich, marketing manager for AFFLINK, a leading sales and marketing organization, cites 10 changes the industry can expect in the coming years:

1. Introduction of new technologies that supplement or replace less-skilled human labor

2. "On the other hand," adds Friedrich, "there will be a need for more skilled workers with higher educations to operate advancing technologies"

3. Short-term and long-term worker shortages resulting in the need to hire temporary workers and freelancers as well as to allow staffers to work remotely

4. Regulatory wage-level changes, such as increases in the minimum wage that may increase operating costs

5.  Technology taxes, also known as "robot taxes," to cover taxes customarily paid by employers and employees. "These robot taxes may also be designed to fund training programs to retrain workers," says Friedrich.

6. Ability to adjust quickly to extreme weather events, often the result of climate change

7. Delivery of products through national distribution partnerships and membership organizations rather than one distributor tasked with delivering all products to its own customers

8. Much greater focus on sustainability in business operations

9. Technology-based shifts that require distributors to change business models quickly

10. Regulatory shifts impacting the delivery of products across borders

"Interestingly, some studies indicate that workers in the distribution industry are more aware of these evolving changes than their employers," Friedrich adds. "This may mean that some employers are holding on to old business models that simply may not work much longer."

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