“Therefore the Amazon route to market will not always be from stock and then an immediate reliance on manufacturer/distributor is required. Volume versus reduction in return will play a key factor in success for the manufacturer.”
Nevertheless, White sees continued demand for traditional distributor services. “I believe there will still be a place for client support, particularly when a sale is part of a scheme.
“Co-ordination is critical and face to face management eases the process dramatically from one off sales to complete projects.
“Therefore I feel that dealers will still provide a required service on projects. The challenge is making clients aware of service and then ensuring delivery. There is also the opportunity of partnering with an internet-based solution to provide the additional support.”
As for which areas of the market Amazon will appeal to, he surmised: “I certainly feel this approach is more suited to single item sales for basic elements of catering kit. This channel most probably will suit small restaurants and cafes.”
Over at fellow traditional dealer, Chiller Box, MD Marios Poumpouris feels: “I’m not sure that Amazon is the right channel for B2B selling, but then again retail booksellers probably thought online wasn’t going to be right for books and look how wrong they were!”
While he doesn’t see the development as a challenge or an opportunity for dealers, he emphasised: “We as Chiller Box are now very much a project house, and you simply can’t buy a project online with the design and management involved.
“One-off sales have already been lost to the internet so this will be just another channel for online sales.”
Poumpouris thinks that the supply channel will be targeted at one-off buyers “those that know what they want, are buying on price and probably looking for quick delivery”. He added: “That’s not what we’re about at all.”