Distributors Get Creative to Solve Supply Chain Woes

*Originally published on CEPro.com

Some of AV’s top distribution executives share their thoughts on how the industry managed to overcome the global supply shortage and continue to supply integrators with products.

It’s no secret that manufacturers and distributors have been run through the wringer during the coronavirus pandemic, but many distributors have found creative and innovative ways to keep their businesses thriving. As a part of CE Pro‘s Distributor’s Guide for 2021, we sought out executives from some of the industry’s largest distributors to find out how exactly they managed to overcome the ongoing global supply chain issues.

CE ProWhat is the norm these days in terms of integrators getting their goods? Is it back to warehouse pickup mostly, curbside pickup, jobsite delivery, other accommodations? How has that shifted since before the pandemic? How are those methods impacted by geography at locations?

Dennis Holzer, Executive Director, PowerHouse Alliance:

“Delivery and curbside pickup continue to be popular methods for purchasing goods. All PowerHouse distribution locations across the United States have are open which gives integrators the ability to purchase product in person and experience demos. The PowerHouse members continue to be flexible with methods used to get products to integrators. All locations were impacted by COVID-19 equally. Members followed CDC guidelines to make sure no location was ever closed, giving dealers access to the products they needed to complete installations.”

John Yodzis, President & CEO, DOW Technologies:

“There was a period of time, at the start of COVID, where we saw a desire for contactless pickup and delivery. With dealers extremely busy and communities opening up, getting product is transitioning back to a matter of convenience. Our go-forward focus is on “ease” — we want to make pickup, shipping, or courier delivery to be as easy, efficient and as quick as possible. The majority of our customers are as busy as they have ever been and our goal is to be able to get product to them efficiently, so they can get back on the jobsite making money.”

Wally Whinna, Sr. VP, Local, SnapAV:

“We made accommodations for our integrators to be able to safely pick up their products and interact with our staff during the pandemic. We never closed will call, just managed safe distancing and COVID containment practices. The next phase has begun, and we have once again opened our popular self-shop format for our will call customers. We offer 24-hour pickup for those wanting after-hours access. Customers often pick up their product during the day for contactless delivery and the fastest turnaround time. Our freight program includes courier service for same day delivery to their office or job site. On request we are available for curbside or dock delivery. We provide same-day shipment on freight orders.”

Bob Appleby, General Manager North America, ADI:

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been tracking conditions by country, state and county, and marking the necessary changes to keep employees safe while maintaining business operations and continued service to ADI’s customers. ADI quickly made modifications in all locations, like implementing curbside pick-up, to minimize interactions and ensure customers could safely continue to access essential goods.

“We implemented numerous safety measures and protocols across all our locations including the necessary PPE, plexiglass shields at sales counters, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing markers, employee daily assessments and cleaning protocols. All these changes have been well communicated to our customers, and in most locations our business has returned with customers shopping again in our branches.

“Additionally, we’re seeing more customers utilize the convenience of our Digital Branch and take advantage of our ability to service them online. Many customers like the ability to shop online and pick up at their local branch. For example, customers can order from the Digital Branch and select our Pick Up Anytime service, which allows them to pick up their orders from a secure, contactless locker at one of our locations. ADI is focused on delivering a consistent omnichannel experience to our customers.”

Helge Fischer, Executive Director, Catalyst AV:

“Yes to all of the above. Business has been very healthy; the biggest issue we had was getting merchandise such as AV receivers. So yes, the protocols have changed, the most important thing is the dealers need to feel safe when they pick up products, so a lot less personal contact, pickup after hours and ordering remotely. We secured the areas of pickup, sanitizing, social distancing, etc. Our members have provided jobsite delivery as well, anything to make sure our customers lives are easier during such a tough time.”

Kevin Luther, Owner, BlackWire Designs:

“We offer a limited local pickup, but most of our products are shipped nationally. Amazon set the standard for everyone, so we’ve worked extra hard to bring 2-day and overnight shipping to most of our customers who participate in our P3 Rewards Program. We work on keeping everything in stock so most orders ship out the same day.”