Wholesale distributors have always played a vital role in the global economy, acting as a first responder within the supply chain. While this year has brought significant challenges for distributors across all subsegments, there are many bright spots to celebrate and even more pockets of opportunities to seek ahead.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of technology within the wholesale distribution industry,” shared Magnus Meier, global head of Wholesale Distribution at SAP. “This year more than ever, distributors are prime to showcase their successes and innovation leadership as a valued member of the supply chain.”

Let’s take a walk down memory lane to celebrate the innovation leadership of wholesale distributors from around the globe. Then, I will share information about the 2021 SAP Innovation Award program and how companies can get involved.

Wholesale Distributors Win at the 2020 SAP Innovation Awards

We celebrated a record number of submissions for the 2020 SAP Innovation Award program. Among them, three wholesale distributors shined by showcasing their use of intelligent technologies to expand beyond traditional industry boundaries and become proactive, insights-driven distributors.

Applied Industrial Technologies

Applied Industrial Technologies is a $3.5 billion leading value-added distributor and technical solutions provider of industrial motion, fluid power, flow control, and automation technologies. Harnessing an intelligent data flow for performance and human capital is critical to the future of the industrial Internet of Things (IoT). For Applied, acquisition plays an important role in the growth strategy.

Applied Industrial Technologies was nominated for the 2020 SAP Innovation Awards based on its use of intelligent data to empower human capital and transform customer profitability. As the company moves deeper into the automation and robotics markets, data will travel among machines, people, and performance. Applied’s success is linked to understanding and managing these critical data streams internally and for customers.

Benefits of Applied Industrial Technology’s innovation initiative include 122-basis point increase in pricing for trained associates versus peers; 49 percent of staff utilize SAP Jam social learning tool per month; and 800 managers trained and empowered across five regions.

Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health, Inc. is a $145 billion healthcare services company that helps pharmacies, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories, and physician offices focus on patient care while reducing costs, enhancing efficiency, and improving quality. The company is one of the largest healthcare supply chain in North America that consolidates pharmaceuticals from hundreds of manufacturers into site-specific deliveries. It is also a leading manufacturer of medical and surgical products, including gloves, surgical apparel, and fluid management products and runs the world’s largest network of nuclear pharmacies.

Cardinal Health’s innovation story showcases how the distributor partnered with Tata Consulting Services to empower digital transformation through the modernization of its pharmaceutical division. Pharma Modernization (PMOD) is a company transformation program intended to invest in the future, aligning people, process, and technology to be a leader in healthcare.

Benefits of Cardinal Health’s Pharma Modernization initiative include 300 percent easier, simpler, and faster reporting and decision-making process; more than $20 million saved over five years; and a 30 percent increase in productivity.

Sigma Healthcare

Sigma is a leading Australian full line wholesale and distribution business to pharmacy and has the largest pharmacy-led network in Australia, with more than 1,200 branded and independent pharmacies in network, including some of Australia’s best-known pharmacy retail brands in Amcal, Guardian, Chemist King, Discount Drug Stores, and PharmaSave.

Sigma Healthcare, needed to modernize its aging systems to provide an intuitive and seamless ordering experience for customers. Its 2021 SAP Innovation Award nomination was entered to celebrate its ability to combine experience and operational insights to exceed customers’ expectations. By combining SAP Commerce Cloud with continuous measurement of its customers’ experience through SAP Qualtrics CX, Sigma Healthcare can proactively identify and deliver on what customers want, driving unprecedented business outcomes.

Benefits of Sigma Healthcare’s innovation initiative include a 25 percent increase in average order value; a 300 percent increase in monthly revenue on the platform; and a 40 point increase in the monthly NPS.

A Year to Remember

As COVID-19 hit, leading distributors pivoted to transform their business models and accommodate the shift in customer behavior, address supply chain disruptions, and manage workforce constraints.

This year, distributors were challenged to help ensure operations were safely continuing with a safeguarded and digitally equipped workforce to continue delivering on their core function in the supply chain. Geographic dependency, regulatory restrictions, and manufacturer slowdowns forced wholesale distributors to quickly monitor and respond to sourcing risks while balancing a shift in the demand pattern.

Wholesale distributors have proven to be the unsung heroes of COVID-19, facilitating a nearly seamless distribution of essential goods around the world to keep the supply chain moving. Based on this year, there is no better time to have their innovation story heard around the world.

Share Your Innovation Story

This year’s SAP Innovation Awards aim to honor and celebrate the achievements of forward-thinking companies that have harnessed the power of SAP technology to become an intelligent enterprise, thrive in new business realities, and create positive economic, environmental, and social impact to help the world run better.

SAP is thrilled to showcase these inspirational customer and partner stories that involve using SAP solutions and technology to differentiate themselves, achieve tremendous results, and adapt to dynamic customer needs.

More information on the award timeline and list of prizes is available here. For details on the judging criteria and category definitions, visit the SAP Innovation Awards website. The submission period is open now and all entries are due by February 1, 2021. Get started today and join the conversation online using the hashtag #SAPInnovation.

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