Worldwide, the distribution industry is a vital link between manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. It is a cornerstone of the global economy and a sector witnessing robust growth. In the US, for example, the Business Research Group estimates its value at nearly $49 billion, a figure projected to surpass $61 billion by 2027.

However, solid growth is only one trend in the industry, there are five more:

1. Customer insights
Customers will have more demanding expectations from the distribution industry in the future. To meet this challenge, exceptional distributors are using tools like data analytics. This is the science of analysing large volumes of data to improve business performance, efficiency, profit and decision-making.

2. The mobile revolution
It’s time to make way for a totally mobile world. These gadgets are not just for personal use anymore. They are becoming powerful tools for distributors, enabling them to manage inventory, track shipments, provide real-time delivery updates to customers and communicate more effectively with end customers.

3. The rise of e-commerce
The way business buyers’ shop is changing. They want the convenience and speed of online shopping, just like they experience on B2C platforms. In 2021, B2B e-commerce marketplaces sold a staggering $1.63 trillion worth of goods and services, a 17.8 percent increase from the previous year. This trend is set to continue, albeit at a slower pace, through to 2027.

4. Personalisation through CRM
Exceptional distributors will increasingly use Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) to provide personalised services for their customers in the coming years. This technology “improves business relationships, helps grow your business, stores customer and prospect contact information, identifies sales opportunities, and manages marketing campaigns, all in one central location,” according to Salesforce, (

5. Artificial Intelligence
AI will help the distribution industry analyse substantial amounts of data and generate insights such as:
• Predicting product demand from specific industries and individual customers
• Providing tailored recommendations for customers
• Factoring in seasonality, historical sales data and market trends

“Exceptional distributors should see these trends as opportunities,” adds Michael Wilson, CEO and president of Afflink, ( a leading distributor membership organisation. “Distributors who take advantage of emerging trends and technologies are most likely to build deeper, longer lasting, and more lucrative relationships with their customers.”