SMB Distributors in 2023 – Challenging times
SMB distribution businesses are an essential part of the business landscape, providing an extensive range of products and services to organisations in the small and medium business (SMB) sector. Distributors are a reliable and cost-effective resource for growing businesses, helping them to reduce their costs and increase their efficiency whilst meeting the needs of their customers and delivering a reliable service.
Although they play such a key role in the success of small and medium businesses, distributors face many challenges to remain successful and competitive. Both external and internal challenges impact the day-to-day operations of SMB distributors, and being aware of these common challenges can help them to better prepare and manage their business.
Below we have explored just a few of the most common external and internal challenges SMB distributors are facing in 2023. For a more detailed review of these challenges, download our free e-book on this topic.
When it comes to external factors, there are a multitude of challenges that can crop up out of the blue. We’ve seen how new threats can come stem from nowhere without much notice. We’ve had a few years of global challenges with knock on affects for distributors from economic downturns to energy crisis to technological advancements, and unfortunately, things that are outside of SMB distributors’ control can have a big impact on their bottom line.
Changes in the way consumers shop are having an impact on SMB distribution businesses. Advancements in technology and the increase in e-commerce websites gives manufacturers the option to ship directly to consumers, sometimes even taking the distributors and retailers completely out of the equation. Changes in consumer demand can also impact SMB distributors. We’ve also seen shifts in customer demands over the past few years. Remaining agile and relevant is fundamental for any distribution business.
Knowledge of your Consumer
There was a time when businesses knew their competitors inside out. They knew everything about them and knew how to compete against them. Today, the landscape moves so quickly, that new competitors can spring out of anywhere. Competitors don’t necessarily need to be built on the same model as more established businesses, in fact newer competitors are more than likely built with technology and agility at its core. New entrants will prompt distributors to raise their game and force, with less focus on price and more focus on customer service, reputation and availability of product.
From an internal perspective, challenges can present themselves from many different angles including staffing (shortages and skill-set alignment) and systems and processes. While we can’t control all the external challenges, we do have control over the internal challenges such as cash flow and profitability.
Having up-to-date insights and clearly being able to see what’s happening with your finances is paramount. Yet, many SMB distributors don’t have sufficient data to run their business.
Planning and Forecasting
Data is a hot topic now. It’s essentially about knowing instantly what’s going on in your business, removing the guesswork. It’s about forecasting and planning with as much precision as possible. It’s about knowing what to order and when (based on accurate data) to avoid cash flow or customer service headaches. It’s about spotting potential issues and mitigating these issues before they become a real problem.
Miscalculation of the cost of goods sold is also a big issue for distribution businesses. This can lead to overpayment of taxes and shrinking profitability, and having a good overview of cash flow is imperative. Some distribution businesses are not able to determine profit by item either, which is crucial to ongoing success. And finally, the practice of ad-hoc pricing is far too common, putting margins at risk, where price bands or customer-specific pricing isn’t being set.
Overcoming Challenges with Sage Small Business Software
Environmental concerns, cybersecurity risks, regulatory requirements and technology are all high up on the agenda for many distribution companies. Navigating through these challenges requires flexibility, accurate data and a proactive approach, helping to turn these challenges into opportunities.
Here at Envisage, Award Winning Sage Partner with expertise in Sage 200, we help businesses implement intelligent, powerful and game-changing Sage software solutions, and we can help you to overcome the challenges that your distribution business may be facing. Should you have any questions about how Sage 200 software can propel your distribution business to the next level, contact our experts.