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Any discussion about whether it’s worth the investment for industrial supply Distributors to digitize and digitalize (yes, those are different things) their business is over pretty quickly when you look at recent numbers and headlines for some of the larger players in this space.

MSC Industrial cites ecommerce as key to its growth

Fastenal mounts a full-court press for more digital sales

Grainger keeps digital sales rolling along in Q1

I’m sure that if you asked each of these mammoth businesses what the process of shifting online was like, they would tell you that it was a lot of work by a lot of people. It probably took longer, cost more, and was harder than they expected. But they are clearly patting themselves on the back for the effort they put in because, wow, was it worth it! Roughly half of all sales between MSC, Grainger & Fastenal come through digital channels.

These large Distributors enjoy a huge leg up on their independent competitors that make up the backbone of local supply chains. Independent Distributors don’t enjoy the same depth of technological experience, time to commit to the process, or money to invest in modernizing their businesses. They face a real risk of becoming irrelevant to new customers coming into the industry and struggling to remain competitive over time.

Many of the brave (few) Distributors who have tried to tackle this challenge on their own learn that off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions built for retail stores don’t work so well in the B2B world of quote requests and managed price files. They’re often shocked that it can take months for a dedicated person to just launch a webstore. Then there’s the disappointment that comes when they learn that there’s more work to come in the form of online store maintenance, in perpetuity.

Part of the challenge arises from just not having the bandwidth to even begin to tackle the problem. Vacations, retiring employees, sick days, and the workload that comes with plain old success, all put incredible strain on Distributor order desks.

ClearSource is here to help instantly modernize, optimize, and strengthen local Distributors. By focusing on helping their customers, ClearSource becomes a badly needed “extra set of hands” to look after every aspect of webstore work and helps to handle many of the manual tasks that need to be done on nearly every transaction. It is clearly worth it to give customers the option of shopping online. ClearSource makes the transition smooth, painless, and fast for local independents.