How Distributors Can Increase Revenue and Profits the Fast, Easy Way!

If you are like other convenience channel distribution or wholesale companies, you are grappling with the new world order of omnichannel consumer choice, and may be re-assessing how to best measure business results and adjust to changing market dynamics. Increasing revenue and profitability is likely at the top of your list of concerns. In fact, it is one of the top three concerns expressed by distributor personnel I talk to regularly. Regardless of title or business role, increasing revenue is important to business managers at every level of the wholesale organization. Ensuring customer satisfaction with service and achieving trade program compliance are two other concerns mentioned most often.

If your goals include increasing revenue, growing customer loyalty, and improving retention of those valuable customers, it is a good idea to focus on enhancing their product assortments and everyday availability so their own shoppers’ satisfaction is met or exceeded on every store visit. An effective way to optimize product mix and availability is to make sure customer orders align with current market trends and local store consumer demand. In my 20 years of serving distributors, I’ve discovered a few sales performance metrics that can quickly help recover lost sales by tracking top-selling items moving through your markets now!

Look for Top Sellers and Their Opportunity Value

Identifying the top selling items that your customers are NOT purchasing would be a smart first step to uncover missed sales opportunities. Tapping into a robust database of distributor-to-retail shipment data with a pre-designed report listing the actual number of stores bypassing specific products gives sales teams an instant roadmap to follow for generating incremental revenue growth. Frequently, distributors assume that their best customers are ordering all the “high demand” products from their vendor assortments, but that assumption is not always accurate. Many distributors I work with are amazed to learn which customers (and how many) are not ordering a marketplace “Top 5” item, especially over an entire 52 week period. Knowing a key item’s annual opportunity dollar value if placed in 80% of customer accounts is a great metric to check regularly – it reveals which products and accounts warrant more concentrated salesforce attention.


Review These KPI’s First: Void Items and Market Rank/Distribution Percentage

When drilling into shipment and sales data, reports designed to pinpoint gap-fill and void items will show distributor sales teams many opportunities for incremental sales revenue. For example, do you know which stores are NOT buying a specific brand or promotional item within a key selling period? Or, how many stores that carry one of your key categories has stopped ordering or replenishing from a vendor you are promoting this quarter?

Knowing how your own sales performance compares to the total market or region you compete in can also give you specific targets to shoot for immediately to improve sales results. Market Benchmark Reports to look for include those that answer questions like “how are my top 10 items in category “x” performing versus the same items in our market?” and, “what is the market’s rank and distribution percentage for “x” item?” These insights are easily identifiable when using a single source database and reporting system with targeted reports for Market Benchmarking and Void Detection, along with Product, Customer and Store Performance, in total or by region.

Optimizing your customer orders through market, customer and product sales performance intelligence is a surefire way to quickly increase business revenue and improve profits. By identifying and filling distribution and store shelf voids, any distributor seeking to increase retailer satisfaction, trade program earnings, and immediate revenue earns a fast pass to reaching their goals …with the help of a c-store channel distributor-to-retail sales database and reporting solution!

What do you think of this topic? Are you satisfied with your distribution business’ revenue and profit performance, or is there room for improvement? Contact me at for a no obligation conversation to explore what areas of your retail distribution or sales performance analytics process can yield a greater return on your investment. MSA’s partnership with the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA) provides a comprehensive database of weekly distributor shipments to retail stores – an affordable solution to obtaining C-Store channel market intelligence. It might just be the right solution for you!

by Tom Baldwin, Product Manager