By Bill McBeath
Many manufacturers and wholesale distributors have been profoundly impacted by the Amazon Effect, even if they don’t compete directly with Amazon. “The Amazon effect” refers to Amazon’s influence, dramatically raising customer expectations for things like:
- Frictionless commerce (epitomized by Amazon’s 1‐click checkout and Amazon Go)
- Extremely fast, low cost, or free delivery, with precise real‐time tracking and easy returns
- Nearly infinite selection; breadth and depth of products
- Rich product search, filtering, and product information
- Meaningful reviews and ratings
These expectations reach beyond the retail industry. In fact, the boundaries between retailers, manufacturers, and wholesale distributors have become ever more blurred. Increasingly, manufacturers and distributors are selling directly to the end customer. For manufacturers and distributors who are not selling to the end customer, their existing customers’ expectations have also changed. Customers, whether consumers or businesses, expect to be able to view in‐depth product information, configure, order, check status, and potentially request returns or report issues online 24/7—that is in addition to the traditional channels of interaction.