Why distributors can't ignore digital tools in 2024

Truck driver on laptop in a truck cab

To remain competitive as the business landscape continues to evolve, it's absolutely necessary for distributors to keep up. Including digital tools in your strategy for 2024 is a crucial step toward securing future success. It's not an option, but a necessity if you want to stay ahead of the game.

This article will explore the reasons why incorporating digital tools is so critical for your future success. 

Catering to the New Generation of Customers

Millennials and Gen Z already make up 45.5% of the U.S. labor force, and that number will only grow. This new generation of customers, often referred to as digital natives, are redefining the marketplace. These tech-savvy individuals are accustomed to seamless online experiences and expect the same from the products they purchase. If you fail to provide digital tools you risk losing out on this substantial customer base. Whether it's online product configurators, eCommerce, or digital parts catalogs, these tools can enhance the customer experience and attract a younger, digitally-driven audience.

Mitigating Financial Risk

Failing to keep up with technological advancements can have financial consequences. Investing in digital tools might seem like a financial commitment, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs. Streamlining processes, reducing errors, and increasing sales are just a few of the financial advantages that come with adopting digital tools. In contrast, resisting digital transformation can lead to inefficiencies, higher operational costs, and ultimately, financial risk.

Maintaining Market Share and Customer Base 

As digital tools become more commonplace in the distribution industry, companies that embrace them gain a competitive edge. Staying relevant in the market requires staying ahead of the curve. 60% of B2B customers find buying products online more convenient than going through traditional channels. So those who don't adapt risk losing market share to competitors who offer a more interactive, digitally enhanced experience. Furthermore, customers may start to associate a lack of digital tools with outdated products and services, which could result in a loss of trust and loyalty.

Balancing Digital and Personal Touch

It's important to note that while digital tools are crucial, they shouldn't replace the personal touch that some of your customers may prefer. While a growing number of consumers enjoy the convenience of online interactions, some still value human connection through phone calls or emails. A well-rounded sales and service strategy should cater to both preferences, offering options for customers to engage digitally or through traditional means…meeting customers where they are on their own digital journey.

In conclusion, as we enter 2024, it’s important to recognize the significance of including digital tools in your plans. Failing to do so not only puts you at risk of missing out on a new generation of customers but also exposes you to financial vulnerabilities. To secure market share and maintain customer trust, there should be a balance between digital innovation and the personal touch, ensuring a seamless and satisfying experience for all. Embracing digital tools is not just an option — it's a necessity for anyone looking to thrive in the ever-evolving business landscape.

Kris Harrington is the CEO of GenAlpha Technologies.  During her time with OEMs in the mining industry, Kris and the other founders of GenAlpha saw a need to find a better way for B2B brands in manufacturing to do business.  This led to the development of an eCommerce solution for manufacturers and distributors who want to grow their business online.  For more than 10 years, the experienced team at GenAlpha Technologies has been helping equipment manufacturers repurpose their bills of materials, 2D and 3D engineering data to make it easier for customers to safely identify and purchase parts.

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