Sandstone Group’s Larry Moon (Chairman/CEO), Joe Carlson (President) and Emma Johnson (Customer Service & Associate Product Manager) recently came to our AutoQuotes headquarters. The visit centered on AQ application usage and AQ Catalog content with Sandstone companies Lakeside, Geneva, Alluserv, Multiteria and Lakeside HealthCare; and general discussions on current issues in our industry. We had a chance to ask Larry and Joe about one such issue.
AQ: How is e-commerce changing the foodservice equipment and supplies industry?
Larry Moon: The rapid adoption of internet distribution, in many forms, is making information a commodity. Years ago dealers had access to and control of information that others didn’t. With the internet, information can be readily available and be shared.
Joe Carlson: Internet distribution changes the competitive landscape. There is a distributor that is now one of the top in the nation. Barely six years ago it was just a regional player. There are no geographical boundaries anymore. Add to this the fact that there are large distributors that were never in FES before, but are moving into the market. It multiplies the choices people have on how to buy. The effect this is having on our industry is exemplified by the fact that Amazon was invited to speak at the most recent NRA show.
AQ: How is this affecting those that sell FES – primarily dealers?
Joe Carlson: Again, with all the choices on how to buy, dealers will have to change their value proposition. How does a dealer add value for someone who can buy equipment over the internet? Dealers can add value through things like project management and design, and other services that leverage their experience and knowledge.
Larry Moon: I compare internet distribution to the large chain super-store retailer that opens in a small town. It disrupts the entire local market. Local merchants have to evolve to survive. They offer different services or target niche markets.
AQ: What other effects will we see?
Joe Carlson: Pricing will be much more transparent. Progressive distributors in our industry continue to find new innovative ways to evolve how they serve the market.
Larry Moon: The internet breaks down barriers; it “democratizes” access. New types of equipment and products can get out and get to market much faster. This is a good thing – and a game changer.