In the ever-changing coatings business, distributors play a important role in business. From just-in-time procurement strategies to risk management, distributors can bring real value to customers.  distributors are being relied on heavily as our customers are more likely to order smaller volumes of products on a more frequent basis. Established partnerships with distributors provide for continuity and trust of supply.

Challenges

A large range of problems are faced by distributors. First and foremost, we are facing unprecedented price rises for supplies, electricity and transportation, similar to most of our clients and manufacturing partners. Unfortunately, our number one price, which is raw materials, has little influence over us.

Luckily, most manufacturers do not have the pricing structures that most suppliers do. This is primarily a consequence of the scale and nature of our activities. We are quick to respond and more willing to take entrepreneurial risks that are not feasible for producers.

What is the Value of Distributors?

A Customer Perspective
Customers may sometimes think, “Why do I need to buy from a middle man when I can just go direct at a lower cost?” There are several answers to this question, but the most straightforward is that either the buyer or seller in a direct relationship will have to perform the function of the distributor. This adds cost to the equation, as can be seen in several key areas.

Distributors can typically offer a greater level of flexibility than manufacturers. This includes quicker turnaround times on orders, often in as little as two hours. Most manufacturers today supply orders based on 7- to 30-day lead-times. With customers focused on increasing inventory turns and improving working capital and revenue through operational efficiencies, the distribution channel is critical to maintain inventory strategically located near the customer base.

A Supplier Perspective
In addition to the benefits already highlighted, distributors offer unique advantages to suppliers. Effective sales channel management will lead to greater profitability, increased market share and higher customer satisfaction. Distributors can be viewed as an extension of a supplier’s sales force in markets where it is not economically viable to establish a permanent facility or direct staff.

Conclusion

Although there are significant challenges that distributors face, today’s economic environment affords an opportunity for significant growth. Distributors offer several advantages to both customers and suppliers,

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