A distributors’ collective fires up a new digital strategy

October 7, 2015 12:09 PM

Affiliated Distributors, an industry group that helps distributors of industrial supplies purchase and sell products, is investing in e-commerce technology to help its distributors more easily purchase products and also sell them to business customers.

The organization, commonly known simply as AD, sees its new e-commerce and content management software as key to helping its members better compete against major nationwide and international competitors by keeping up with the latest products and quickly making them available to customers. “We help independent distributors compete against national chains like Grainger and The Home Depot,” a spokeswoman says.

Adds AD chairman and CEO Bill Weisberg: “Independent wholesale distributors’ battle for a level playing field must be fought anywhere that nationals are able to use their size and leverage to create a competitive advantage. And one place that this battle must clearly be engaged and fought is on the Internet.”

AD is working with Unilog Inc., a provider of e-commerce and content management software, to deploy CIMM2, an e-commerce and content management software system for AD’s seven distribution divisions: Bearings & Power Transmission; Building Materials; Electrical; HVAC; Industrial; Pipe, Valves & Fittings; and Plumbing.

The new software will improve the ability of AD’s member distributors to view available products from manufacturers in an electronic master product catalog, and also provide them the option to extend that content to their customers through their own e-commerce sites, the AD spokeswoman says. 

“AD’s e-content initiative will result in a library of richly attributed and maintained SKU data that our members can use in their web storefronts,” AD president Jack Templin says.

Ed Crawford, president of AD’s Electrical Division, says the new software addresses a void among product suppliers of consistency in product content and marketing materials available to distributors.

AD’s sister company, SupplyForce, specializes in online distribution of MRO, or maintenance, repair and operations products that companies use to maintain their facilities. SupplyForce deployed Unilog e-commerce software in 2011.

AD and Unilog did not disclose the cost of deploying CIMM2 for AD's project.

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