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SCDigest Expert Insight: Keep It Moving

About the Author

Marc Wulfraat


MWPVL International, Inc.

Marc Wulfraat is the president and founder of MWPVL International, a supply chain and logistics consulting firm.  Marc has 27 years of supply chain consulting experience across a variety of industry sectors and countries. His expertise is in supply chain strategy, facility design, material handling systems, automation, and supply chain execution technologies. He has managed many complex consulting mandates to help a diverse range of companies with their supply chain challenges. For more information, please visit

By Marc Wulfraat

October 7, 2014

Keep It Moving: The AmazonSupply Threat to the B2B Distribution Market

The Level of ecommerce Sophistication Varies Significantly from Firm to Firm

Regardless of the where your company fits within the business to business (B2B) supply chain, chances are that ecommerce is somehow impacting your firm’s supply chain.  The level of ecommerce sophistication varies significantly within the distribution sector.   Examples below illustrate this point:

Wulfraat Says:

For companies that distribute products that can readily be purchased from competitors, B2B ecommerce is now becoming a competitive weapon and it's time to start taking this threat seriously.
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Company has a basic web site with limited online product information.


Company provides secure B2B access to an electronic catalogue of products with prices but customer cannot place order online.


Company supports ability to place online order but confirmation is sent afterwards because there is no inventory availability confirmation at time of order placement.  


Customers place orders online with immediate confirmation against near real time inventory availability information when an order line is entered.


Company fulfills Internet orders on behalf of retailers such that it is transparent to the end-consumer that company was involved in the transaction.


Online orders flow electronically from the ecommerce engine through to the back office and logistics execution systems with no manual data replication. 


Company determines optimal ship-from location to fulfill customer order based on inventory availability, customer delivery requirements, and least-cost shipment methodology. 


Strategies are in place to address conflicts that take place when online customers and traditional customers order against the same inventory pool.


Strategies are in place to optimize logistics operations to ensure that internet orders are fulfilled with efficiency.


Columns by Marc Wulfraat

Locus Robotics - An Independent Consultant's Review Part 2

Supply Chain Comment: Locus Robotics - An Independent's Consultant Review Part 1

Keep It Moving: What Economic Impact Will the Amazon Sortation Network Have on UPS and FedEx?

Keep It Moving: The AmazonSupply Threat to the B2B Distribution Market

Supply Chain Comment: If You Thought that Amazon was a Game Changer in 2015, Hold onto your Hat

Logistics Comment: Amazon is Building a New Distribution Network - Quickly and Quietly

Keep It Moving: A Tale of Two Retailers - Amazon and Target

Keep It Moving: How the "Amazon Effect" is Changing the American Manufacturing Industry Forever

Keep It Moving: Should US Companies Think More Like the Europeans When it Comes to Automation?

Keep It Moving: Amazon Same Day Delivery - Last Mile Economics and Challenges

Keep It Moving: How Close to Reality is Amazon Same Day Delivery?

Keep It Moving: E-Fulfillment Wars - Will eBay Over-Promise and Under-Deliver?

Keep It Moving: Looking to Increase Warehouse Storage Capacity?

Keep It Moving: Goods to Person Automation - A Multishuttle Primer

Keep It Moving: Global Age Dependency Ratios (ADR) Will Drive Increasing Automation Investments

For companies that distribute products that can readily be purchased from competitors, B2B ecommerce is now becoming a competitive weapon and it’s time to start taking this threat seriously.

According to Forbes magazine, the U.S. retail industry generates about $4 Trillion in revenue whereas some 35,000 U.S. wholesale distributors generate $7.2 Trillion of revenue.  Most of these companies are family owned businesses with $50 Million or less annual revenues (only 160 firms are greater than $1 Billion in size).  This largely ignored market will soon undergo a major transformation as AmazonSupply quickly and quietly ramps up its B2B capabilities.

AmazonSupply now has 750,000 products for sale to business and industry.  The company offers competitive prices with a 365 return policy, free 2-day shipping for eligible orders greater than $50, a service team that provides technical help, and access to the corporate credit line.  Amazon’s technology capabilities are quite simply decades ahead of the competition and the company is clearly willing to sacrifice short term profitability in exchange for market share and revenue growth.

With this in mind, visit where there is wide open access to product offering, product specifications, pricing, product availability, shipment terms, and payment terms. Any buyer with a need can obtain immediate real time information without any delay whatsoever. Is your business currently competing with Amazon? Is there is a chance of this happening in the future and what is your company’s ecommerce supply chain strategy to ensure successful growth in the world of tomorrow?



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