The wholesale distribution industry in the US includes about 300,000 companies with combined annual sales of nearly $5 trillion. Large distributors include SYSCO (foods); McKesson (drugs); and Avnet (electronics). Only about 3,000 companies have annual revenue over $100 million, but these large companies account for 70 percent of industry revenue. A typical midsized distributor has 30 employees and annual sales of $15 million.
Distributors specialize by product. Within product segments, concentration is often moderately high. In many segments, the 50 largest distributors hold between 40 and 60 percent of the market.
The US retail industry includes about 1 million outlets with combined annual revenue of over $4 trillion. Major companies include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Kroger, Costco, and Target. While large companies dominate some retail sectors (such as mass merchandisers and grocery stores), other sectors (such as auto dealers and convenience stores) are fragmented. Many specialty retailers are single-store operations.
For most distributors, demand is closely linked to local economic activity. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient inventory management and order fulfillment operations. Large companies can supply customers with a wider range of goods and in more markets, but smaller distributors can compete successfully by carrying specialty products or providing add-on services. The industry is highly automated: average annual revenue per worker is over $1 million for large distributors, about $500,000 for smaller ones.
Computer and communications technology have had a major effect on the industry by improving the efficiency of warehouse and distribution operations. Because of automation, industry labor productivity improved more than 40 percent in the past 10 years.
Personal income, consumer confidence, and interest rates drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient supply chain management and effective merchandising and marketing. Large companies have advantages in purchasing, distribution, and marketing. Small companies can compete effectively by selling unique merchandise, providing superior customer service, offering a distinctive shopping experience, or serving a local market. Annual revenue per worker averages $250,000, but ranges from $600,000 for new car dealers to less than $200,000 for grocery stores.
We help our Retail and Wholesale clients with consulting services, website design, e-commerce implementation and management, hosting, branding, public relations, sales and distribution consulting, search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, and print advertising services.
Here are some of our recent projects.