Several program distribution groups said that in 2016 the market continued to present challenges due to changes brought about by ongoing industry consolidation.
Market growth has been stymied by various economic conditions and has delayed some of the organic growth that was expected in 2016. Some say that there is cautious optimism for the future as the industry adjusts to a new administration in Washington D.C. and the prospect of a more business-friendly environment.
As the competitive landscape continues to change, program groups are looking for new and different ways to enhance brand value. All groups say they are working to profitably grow their businesses, and trying to balance service, quality, inventory and costs.
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Here are responses that some program groups provided to the question, “What were a few of your company’s key achievements in 2016?”
The AAM Group said its biggest accomplishment was the beginning of a project to be delivered in 2017. The AAM membership voted to build PACE, a business to business (B2B) web portal designed to provide cataloging, browsing and customer support capabilities for member warehouse distributors (WD). The PACE project will make B2B websites available to AAM members’ warehouses electing to participate and having compatible system communications capabilities.
These websites will serve as mobile-enabled, front-end web-based interfaces where WD customers can log in and access product cataloging, determine product availability, check their product cost, and enter orders into the WD’s business management system (BMS). PACE will not replace the warehouse’s BMS, but it will supplement it as the primary remote entry point for the warehouse’s wholesale customers. PACE is designed to provide AAM members with a modern customer experience engine that will reduce current friction in the ordering of aftermarket accessories.
AAM Group said its store count growth and influence grew significantly in 2016. “We increased our program reach of jobbers by 83 percent. Our email reach to jobber store personnel grew by 63 percent, and our direct to store mailing program grew our reach by 223 percent,” said President Tim Odom “Over 1,000 stores are now using AAM’s Digital Showcase as a point-of-sale catalog and product presentation resource.”