Supply chain / logistic distributor and delivery service concept : Small miniature shipping agent uses a weighing hand pallet truck moves a cardboard box / carton on a laptop for dispatch to customers

Contributed By AFFLINK

As the ISSA Show North America Virtual Experience approaches, what many jan/san distributors are likely to be discussing is how they can become more agile and resilient considering the changes brought on by COVID-19. These changes have impacted their businesses, their profits, and in some cases, their very existence.

According to Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and packaging for AFFLINK, a global leader in distributor sales and marketing, greater agility and resilience will be core to distributor survival and profitability in coming years.

"However, according to a Gartner survey, only 21 percent of [distributor] respondents say they have a resilient network today," says Wilson. "This tells us most distributors are not going to be able to quickly shift directions, if necessary, finding other sources for the goods and products they market in North America."

To address this and ensure greater resilience, Wilson suggests the following:

Diversify Sourcing

Many jan/san distributors, as well as manufacturers, have few suppliers outside of China.

"This could be a precarious position moving forward," he says. "Jan/san organizations must now have supply partners in other parts of Asia as well as Mexico."

Supplier Mapping

Manufacturers invariably have their own supply chain networks. They depend on components produced in different parts of the world.

"To protect ourselves, we need to know where these ‘secondary suppliers’ are located and how vulnerable they are to their own disruptions," says Wilson. Those disruptions can [negatively] impact the entire production of goods."


This is a relatively new word in supply chain management. In the future, many distributors will want to work with suppliers that are closer to our shores. The benefit is that it can help reduce distant supply chain weaknesses and improve inventory management.

"It remains to be seen how long the pandemic will last,” says Wilson. “The effects of the economic shutdown, however, are sure to continue well into the future. Agility and resilience will be key to ensuring distributorships moving forward and for years to come.”