The second part of our three-part article on buying groups concerns large national competitors.

How do you help distributors be proactive against national competitors such as Staples, Grainger and Amazon?

We’re working with our members, our supplier partners and consultants to create an appropriate response to the threat of those large national competitors. There’s not a blanket solution so we’re taking pains to address all the variables in the equation. — Bob Klief, vice president of marketing, The United Group, Monroe, Louisiana

Empowering them with market intelligence, ongoing training, and the tools and technologies necessary to continue winning in the marketplace. That’s why we created elev8, a proprietary go-to-market strategy that allows our members to change the conversation away from product and price and instead focus on selling supply chain solutions. It’s been a game-changer for our membership. — Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and communications, AFFLINK, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

DPA helps our members compete against Amazon and “big box” stores by helping them sell value — service and product expertise. However, selling value is meaningless unless they actually quantify it into real dollars and cents for the end user to see. We can work with the distributor to do this and it will strengthen its entire go-to-market approach. — Zachary Haines, executive director, DPA Buying Group, Cincinnati

DPA distributors compete well against Grainger, because our members can offer their customers most of the non-janitorial items that Grainger is selling. Our group’s focus will always remain loyally dedicated to janitorial; however DPA distributors do have the ability to competitively sell safety or industrial supplies if an end user demands it. This is because DPA uniquely has the vendor relationships and programs with most all of those suppliers so that our distributors can be more competitive.

What we might call ‘non-traditional’ channel competitors has become a reality that will only continue to evolve. SMA with, and on behalf of, our member distributors, works to identify and communicate key differentiators and/or best practices that have proven to be effective responses to these entities. More specifically, our group’s culture is very peer-centric, as such we cultivate that atmosphere through conferences, meetings, and facilitated workshops during which best practices and new ideas for winning against non-traditional competitors are fostered. Our national accounts team, especially with regard to the Healthcare industry, has a strong and sustained record of success in positioning the capabilities and expertise of SMA members against such competitors. — Dick McGann, president and CEO, Strategic Market Alliance, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Advantages Of Group Purchasing
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How Buying Groups Handle Distributor Service Areas