How Distributors Should Respond to Nontraditional Competition

Distributors are fighting wars on multiple fronts, according to a recent panel moderated by IRCG at the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) annual meeting, and they must respond with a fresh approach to compete effectively.

This was the response after IRCG Managing Partner Mike Marks asked the NAED panel whether competitive pressure from outside the electrical industry would continue to increase. Panelists included: Brian McNally of Rexel, Chris Blakeslee of Anixter, Bill Mansfield of Graybar, and Halsey Cook of Sonepar.

Panelists felt the pressure from nontraditional competitors would grow. One noted that nontraditional competitors – whether it’s companies competing in new markets such as home automation or renewables or online-only competitors like Amazon – bring with them objectivity on what’s possible in the market. This makes them less predictable. Some distributors tend to underestimate these new entrants to the market until they’ve already made a dent, panelists said.

Shifts in product technologies (such as the convergence between electrical and electronic markets) also shift customer expectations. New products and skillsets are required to meet the demand.

In an article on, Marks talks about how distributors need to reframe their approach to the market as a result of outside pressures. Look at what could affect your business in the next five to 10 years, and what you’re doing to remain relevant in an increasingly busy market. “If you’re out there innovating, it’s an opportunity,” Marks told MDM. “If you’re not, it’s a threat.”

Listen to the full panel discussion on this topic in this clip from NAED:

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Watch the full panel here from NAED.

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