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The “Retailization” of Wholesale Distribution

5 Key trends of Wholesale Distribution

Why wholesale distribution customers now have retail-level expectations, how it’s turning the industry upside down, and what you can do about it.

In 2022, nearly half of B2B sellers reported that they’re adding B2C tactics such as personalized offers and customer loyalty programs to their marketing strategies.1

Every seller in the B2C world is now familiar with how customer expectations for service, delivery, and support have evolved. Wholesale distribution has experienced its own version of this shift—with increased demand for digital experiences, hands-off sales processes, and sustainable practices—but that shift has been easier to ignore because it happened more slowly. Today, those preferences have caught up with wholesale distribution. No longer can distributors rely on the traditional “pick, pack, and ship” model to keep their customers happy. They’re now serving B2B buyers who want a B2C customer experience, together with Oracle, we’ve identified five trends that are converging to turn the wholesale distribution industry on its head:

  • Wholesale distribution customers now expect a retail-like customer experience
  • Advanced technology is replacing legacy systems
  • Wholesale distributors must create value-added services
  • Sustainability is an increasingly high priority for customers
  • Attracting top talent has become more challenging

These five trends represent an entirely new landscape for wholesale distributors. Addressing them will take a major shift in thinking, especially because they must do so in real time. As the trends suggest, the answer lies in technology, particularly in rethinking how front-end and back-end systems work and in choosing an experienced technology partner for the journey.

Traditionally, wholesale distributors have provided cost efficiencies, quick market access to their vendors for products, and unparalleled local knowledge. All of those are still true; they’re just not enough anymore.

Jim Heatherington

Director, Advisory Supply Chain Solutions, KPMG


1"Marketing Trends 2022," Oracle Marketing, 2022,

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Welcome to the "Retailization" of Wholesale Distribution

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