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2021 Wholesale / Distribution Benchmark – Early Findings

Adam Cavanagh
Published on:
February 11, 2021
Our wholesale/distribution benchmark survey is based on the anatomy of a world-class wholesale distribution firm

Participants score their organisations against the statements that a world-class organisation would use to describe themselves and their operational characteristics.

Initial entries from January have been compiled and we’re already seeing some interesting themes emerging.

We’ve previously shared research from McKinsey addressing key vulnerabilities around the supply chain. The main threats that need to be countered by organisations lie in the areas of demand planning, inventory management and financial fragility. The anatomy we have created is built around overcoming these challenges in particular to ensure strength and resilience.

The 6 key areas of the anatomy are:

  • Driven by Data
  • Advanced Forecasting
  • Intelligent Replenishment
  • Automation and Control
  • Robust Governance
  • Integration and Alignment

Wholesale/distribution companies who have participated to date have ranked driven by data and integration and alignment equally as the most important elements. They have rated their own competency highest in automation and control.

Maximise your impact

Based on their scores for proficiency and the level of impact for each characteristic, we are able to identify the priority areas where improvement would make the biggest difference. Responses so far indicate that robust governance and intelligent replenishment offer the greatest potential.

Zoning in on the detailed statements, the individual characteristics offering the greatest level of potential are defined by the following statements:

  1. We have systems in place that can automatically adjust replenishment quantities.  This enables our team to manage by exception and prevents fire-fighting.
  2. We have the appropriate tools in place to provide end-to-end visibility of the supply chain and track changing dynamics. This enables us to marry outcomes to decisions and continually improve performance.

When it comes to intelligent replenishment, the strongest firms have removed all unnecessary manual tasks from their team’s workload. They exploit a system that can execute the tasks that require neither judgement nor creative problem solving, whilst alerting the team to the situations that would benefit from human input. This frees up the team to focus on decisions and relationships that legitimately need their attention, bolstering the organisation’s resilience. 

Considering supply chain visibility, for wholesale distributors to compete and grow in the future, they need a precise understanding of the entirety of their business operations, from the back-end manufacturing/supplier management, to the front-end customer-facing sales and marketing efforts. Plans and management need to extend beyond the scope of current stock and existing orders. A longer-term approach must account for what is happening outside of the organisation and potential scenarios that may emerge.

True of both characteristics above, the strongest firms are those who best harness their data and turn it into actionable insight to drive their business. 

Get involved

As more and more entries are submitted, the scores will evolve. We will publish the full report once we close to entries later in Q1.

Each participating firm is provided with a report illustrating their scores alongside the aggregate for all scores received. (All entries are completely confidential, participants are only able to see their own scores and those for the base as a whole).

To see how your organisation measures up, take part in the 2021 Wholesale / Distribution Benchmark. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and your personalised report will be produced within 24 hours.