Positioned For The Future: Distributors Embrace Virtual

I think we can all agree that 2020 didn’t pan out to be the year we had expected. At this time last year, I was completing my first issue as Editor‑in‑Chief of Sanitary Maintenance. Adding this industry staple to my portfolio of products, I had created a plan for content, education programs and more. I was ready to hit the ground running and we were off to a great start.

Then, within days of mailing that first issue, news of the severity of COVID-19 emerged. A few short weeks later, all my plans for the year went up in smoke and we began addressing the pandemic one day at a time — a reality I’m sure you can relate to.

The good news is, the world finally started to value cleaning and appreciate the essential need for the jan/san industry. The bad news is that the industry wasn’t ready for it. The supply chain quickly broke down, forcing distributors to make adjustments in an effort to continue servicing customers.

But we all adapted and in some cases, found a better way to do business. Distributors quickly found their virtual footing, ramping up e-commerce offerings, diversifying products and shifting to online training and consultation services. As the country shut down and in-person meetings were put on hold, distributors took to Google, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and any other platform they could find to educate themselves and serve their customers.

As outlined in our cover story, virtual meetings have proven successful and will be a staple of future business. Although jan/san distribution remains very much a relationship-based industry that thrives on face-to-face interactions, the benefits of virtual meetings can’t be ignored and are expected to be integrated into a hybrid customer experience moving forward.

If I’ve learned one thing in my 15 years in this industry, it’s that it is always moving and changing for the better. Distributors are at the forefront of that innovation and I believe we are in a great spot to thrive in 2021.

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