Excerpted from 2016 article in  TED (The Electrical Distribution) magazine – all rights reserved

….Buying online has become a huge part of the average American’s personal life. That’s slowly spilling over into the B2B space, where an increasing number of customers want to be able to shop in a 24/7/365 environment online and have their materials delivered quickly and accurately. Missing with the latter, according to Mike Connors (CEO of bulbs.com), are the personal relationships that traditional distributors have established with their customers. Independent distributors continue to harp on this issue as more online players invade their turfs, but these bonds may not be enough in the increasingly digital business environment of the future.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll see some shifts as the baby boomers retire and are replaced by generation X and the millennials—all of whom are using their smartphones, tablets, and computers,” says Connors, “and who are very comfortable making online purchases and less interested in relationships. They just want to go out and look at what’s available and make a purchase.”

Connors points to the recent B2B E-Commerce article Industrial tape seller builds an online B2B niche that sticks, as proof of how a very traditional business model (like electrical distribution), can be upended by the growth of B2B e-commerce. “Here we have an ex-tech executive who is selling over $5 million in tape a year, half of which involves painters and electrical contractors who are out working on jobsites,” says Connors, who has reached out to the subject of the article to “pick his brain” about that successful online model. “He has an interesting relationship with Amazon and in a space that’s very similar to ours.” …..

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