11 Innovative Tactics to Build Your Competitive Edge in Distribution featured image

11 Innovative Tactics to Build Your Competitive Edge in Distribution

Innovation is key to getting ahead, especially in today’s fast-paced and rapidly evolving economy. The distribution industry needs more than business as usual, and industry leaders are those investing in change. In our last blog, we covered 7 must-know trends that have made innovation so crucial. These were:

  • Providing a frictionless buying experience
  • The death of slow and steady
  • The next step In digitalization
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Better data analytics
  • Even more AI
  • Automation

Read it here to see how these trends are raising eyebrows for industry leaders and how you can use them to your advantage. And if you’re looking for an in-depth guide to kickstart your innovation journey, check out our handbook of 25 actionable steps.

It can be difficult to know where to start and what exactly to focus on. From optimizing your marketing efforts to expanding your digital strategy, there are tons of opportunities for innovation. That’s why we wrote 11 short long-term tactics you can start with today to provide a better experience and build your competitive edge:

More in this Guide
Tactic 1: Boost Sales with Outbound Messaging & Upselling
Tactic 2: Connect Better with Customers Through SMS Marketing
Tactic 3: Tailor to Customer Preferences with Personalization
Tactic 4: Differentiate your Brand with Price Advantage Transparency 
Tactic 5: Build a Better Work Culture with Team Incentives
Tactic 6: Entice Your Customers to Spend with Customer Rewards Programs
Tactic 7: Create More Opportunities for Yourself with Co-op Advertising Funds
Tactic 8: Build Brand Awareness by Optimizing your Online Presence 
Tactic 9: Streamline Your Workflow and Build a Digital Ecosystem
Tactic 10: Make Informed Decisions with AI & BI
Tactic 11: Foster Innovation with Communication Software


tacticsTactic 1- SQ-brightenedTactic 1: Boost Sales with Outbound Messaging & Upselling

Proactively reaching out to your customers not only strengthens your relationships but opens more opportunities for you to make sales. Rather than relying on customers to reach out, through simple outbound messaging, you’ll open doors for your business and keep your business top of mind.


Benefits of outbound messaging include: 

  • Opportunities for Upselling/Cross-selling - By reaching out about a new product or recent sale, you can easily suggest an add-on or repeat purchase. 
  • Gathering Feedback - Asking for feedback is a great way to gain insights into inventory or the customer experience while making customers feel heard and understood.
  • Strengthening relationships - If you reach out first, you’ll keep your business at the forefront even when contractors are busy with their own projects.

Get actionable tactics to optimize your frictionless buying experience

tacticsTactic 2 - SQ-brightenedTactic 2: Connect Better with Customers Through SMS Marketing

SMS marketing allows you to engage with customers right from their mobile phones — keeping them informed and enticed to buy without ever having to stop what they’re doing. The value is clear — text messages garner a 98% open rate for distributors, compared to email’s 20% open rate. Industry leaders are using this to their advantage and incorporating SMS when building their marketing strategies. 


Benefits of SMS Marketing Include:

  • Better Customer Engagement - Due to their high open rates compared to email, recipients are far more likely to interact with text marketing messages than other channels.
  • Wider Reach - Texting broadens your reach and allows you to market to populations of customers far wider than those physically in or near your branch.
  • Trackable Results - Unlike physical forms of advertising, SMS marketing provides measurable insights like open rate, click-through rate, and more.

Get actionable tactics to innovate and speed up growth

tacticsTactic 3 -SQ-brightenedTactic 3: Tailor to Customer Preferences with Personalization

Personalization is the practice of customizing messaging to individual customers based on order history, related industry, past interactions, or other key identifiers. It allows you to tailor their experience to their personal preferences and needs. 



Benefits of Personalization include:

  • Improved Customer Experience - By understanding your customers better, you can give them exactly what they need when they need it. This makes for a better experience.
  • Brand Differentiation - 65% of distributors don’t use personalization, meaning you'll be setting yourself wildly ahead of competitors by taking this step and going the extra mile.
  • Better Customer insights - Your personalization efforts produce data on customer preferences, behavior, and trends, which can be used to refine your strategy further.

Get actionable tactics to level up your digital strategy

tacticsTactic 4 - SQ-brightenedTactic 4: Differentiate your Brand with Price Advantage Transparency 

In today’s fast-paced world, contractors are more careful than ever about where they spend their dollars. Affordable pricing and transparency are top priorities for them when choosing where to do business time and time again.



Benefits of Price Advantage Transparency Include:

  • Builds Trust - If your prices are reasonable and clearly communicated, your customers will trust you and feel that you want them to succeed. This strengthens relationships and makes them want to support your business.
  • Reduces Friction in the Sales Process - If there are no miscommunications or discourse on pricing, closing deals is easier on your sales reps as everyone is on the same page.
  • Encourages Repeat Business - There is no better reason to keep doing business with you than clearly communicated, affordable prices. Affordability benefits their bottom line and yours, too, as they’re sure to come back. 

Get actionable tactics to stay competitive amidst evolving business requirements



Ready to innovate? Download our handbook!

tacticsTactic 5- SQ-100Tactic 5: Build a Better Work Culture with Team Incentives

Internal Incentives are rewards or motivations that drive performance. They are powerful tools for inspiring your team to bring their best. Examples can be internal competitions, recognition, bonus opportunities, and more. 



Benefits of Internal Incentives Include:

  • Better chance at hitting milestones - If your team benefits directly from reaching their goals, they’ll work harder and bring you closer to milestones. 
  • Better work environment - Employees who feel appreciated are more motivated, more fulfilled, and more likely to stay with your company.
  • Growth and development - Supporting employees in hitting their goals gives them opportunities to develop their skills, fostering a more adept team that’s likely to drive wins in the future. 

Get actionable tactics to improve your data analytics

tacticsTactic 6 - SQ-100Tactic 6: Entice Your Customers to Spend with Customer Rewards Programs

Customer reward programs, or loyalty programs, are initiatives implemented to encourage repeat purchases and drive retention. Rewards are powerful -– in fact, 72% of contractors said they’d switch distributors in favor of better rewards.  


Benefits of Customer Reward Programs Include: 

  • Repeat Business - Customers will have a reason to spend more if they directly benefit from something tangible like a discount or store credit.
  • Competitive Advantage - If you offer better rewards than your competitors, you’ll make choosing you an easy decision.
  • More Insights - Reward programs often rely on data collection and give you information like phone numbers, associated companies, and more. They also shed some light on customer preferences and buying behaviors.

.Get actionable tactics to start implementing AI into your innovation strategy

tacticsTactic 7 - SQ-100Tactic 7: Create More Opportunities for Yourself with Co-op Advertising Funds

Co-op funds are resources provided by manufacturers or suppliers to help you promote their products. Advertising portions of co-op funds often go unused or are slower to spend than equipment stipends, but there’s a lot of opportunity to use these to your advantage.



Benefits of Using Your Co-op Advertising Funds

  • Better brand visibility - Advertising gives you better brand visibility, expanding your reach and enticing new customers.
  • Shared Advertising Costs - By sharing expenses with your manufacturers, you can take on initiatives that would otherwise be too costly.
  • Stronger Partnerships - Investing in advertising demonstrates a shared commitment to promoting the brand and product, leading to better trust between you and your supplier.

Get actionable tactics to incorporate automation and streamline operations


tacticsTactic 8 - SQ-brightenedTactic 8: Build Brand Awareness by Optimizing your Online Presence 

Contractors are constantly on the go, and with a better online presence, you’ll still be able to keep your business top of mind, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Even if they haven’t stopped into the branch in a while, by investing in your website, social media, and more, these customers will still be able to engage with you. 

Benefits of a Strong Online Presence Include: 

  • Customers Can Reach You Anywhere - Whether in the branch or from their mobile phones, your organization, and its services will be easily accessible and ready to provide solutions.
  • Better Brand Perception - Building your presence online allows you to publicly share reviews and testimonials, painting a better perception of your business.
  • Ranking In Search - Through SEO, ranking higher than competitors in search results captures a larger share of organic traffic and market visibility, helping you stand out in crowded markets.

tacticsTactic 9 - SQ-brightenedTactic 9: Streamline Your Workflow and Build a Digital Ecosystem

Today, it takes more than adopting technologies to benefit your business. Successful distributors are taking this a step forward and building a digital ecosystem. A digital ecosystem is a series of Interconnected technologies all working together to draw better insights and make you efficient. 


Benefits of a Digital Ecosystem Include:

  • Data Consistency Across Platforms - Keeping information consistent in every platform you use allows you to work faster and cuts errors.
  • Efficient Workflow - A digital ecosystem enables you to multitask, scale multiple queries at once, generate responses faster, and more, fostering an efficient workflow. 
  • Integrations - Your digital ecosystem connects all your software, enabling a cohesive user experience, automating certain tasks based on triggers, and allowing you to access information from anywhere. 

tacticsTactic 10 - SQ-100Tactic 10: Make Informed Decisions with AI & BI

Artificial intelligence (AI) & business intelligence (BI) are integral parts of your digital ecosystem. AI has powerful potential for streamlining content creation, contact management, product information, supply chain management & more, and BI helps you make informed decisions based on organization status & forecast.



Benefits of Using AI & BI:

  • More Efficiency - Through automation, these tools reduce manual effort and minimize the risk of errors — freeing up human resources for more strategic decision-making.
  • Enhanced insights - BI can analyze large volumes of data to generate insights and identify trends, empowering you to make data-driven decisions. 
  • Personalization capabilities - Better data with AI and BI allow you to draw insights into customer behavior and cater to their needs and preferences.


tacticsTactic 11 - SQ-100Tactic 11: Foster Innovation with Communication Software

Your customers want to be able to reach you from any time, anywhere. Long hold times and busy branches create a frustrating experience. Communication software centralizes all business communication into one easy-to-access workspace, so you can attend to customers with just the press of a button. 



Benefits of Communication Software

  • Breaks down siloes - Ever had an employee leave and take every relationship with them? With communication software, every conversation occurs through one business-dedicated interface, giving you ownership and facilitating better collaboration.
  • Serve Customers Faster -  Relying on the phone causes congestion and long hold times. With communication software, you’ll be able to attend to multiple customers at once right from your counter computer.
  • Market to Customers Efficiently -  Many communication tools have SMS marketing capabilities, allowing you to market to mass populations of customers quickly and effectively. 



If you’re looking to drive growth, partner with technologies that support your innovation journey. Prokeep is a communication platform tailored to distributors that connects text, email, web chat, and fax into one easy-to-access dashboard. 

Prokeep empowers you to optimize your marketing efforts and drive your digital strategy through unique solutions like

  • Omnichannel Communication - Prokeep connects text, email, and fax into one centralized dashboard, making communication seamless. 
  • Broadcast Text Messaging - With just the press of a button, you can send mass promotions to a large number of customers. The best part? If they respond, they’ll be instantly connected to a counter rep. 
  • Personalization - Prokeep stores all customer information and conversation history. By quickly looking through past interactions, you can suggest other add-ons or inquire about previous purchases to continue to drive business.
  • Relationship Intelligence - Prokeep’s CRM empowers you to leverage customer data to optimize sales processes, keep accurate records, and personalize your marketing efforts to your customers.

Schedule a live Prokeep demo