Long Tail Vendor Enablement: How Ingram Micro Built a Billion Dollar B2B Distributor Marketplace

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“Our goal now is to take our marketplace to the next level. We want to bring new vendors to the traditional market. Convictional’s huge network and sophisticated following of niche vendors allows us to build relationships with partners we would never have been able to work with previously. Convictional is a key component in outpacing the market and shooting ourselves forward another 10 years.

Michael Wojtysiak, Category & Program Manager, Ingram Micro

Michael Wojtysiak is a meticulous engineer by trade, but he eventually rose up to become the Category & Program Manager at Ingram Micro.

Ingram is a Fortune 100 company whose revenue topped $47 billion dollars in 2019.

Their main line of business is a classic value distribution model that helps vendors get into retailers and resellers. Along with this, they developed a strong 3PL business and a sophisticated cloud marketplace with their leading vendors. Most recently, Ingram has started helping emerging direct-to-consumer vendors go to market quicker, faster, and as Michael proudly says, "Better than anybody else in Canada."

It's Michael’s job to bring to light the tools and technologies that make vendor lines successful with Ingram. In doing so, he helps vendors realize that they all somehow fit into Ingram's overarching business model.

Outpacing the competition with vendor enablement

It's no secret that end users, consumers, and businesses, both B2C and B2B, are seeing an exponential upward trend towards direct buying and ecommerce business models. The pandemic only accelerated this, forcing global commerce a few years into the future. 

Michael knew that the key to navigating this shift was to build resilient, antifragile systems into Ingram, particularly in the realm of vendor and seller enablement. He stresses, "The biggest thing that made [vendors successful] was that they got enabled. It didn't matter if it was ecommerce. It didn't matter if it was bricks and mortar. But they had, in some way, a connection that got them going."

Vendor enablement would be the competitive advantage that would allow them to stay resilient and profitable as a B2B distributor.

Building a resilient distributor marketplace with a long tail vendor strategy

Ingram started working with Convictional in March 2019. He cites Convictional's vendor network and niche vendor selection, as a key component in how they've continuously outpaced the market. Amidst a pandemic that shot ecommerce a few years forward, Michael asserts that working with Convictional's technology and network shot Ingram forward another 10 years.

He believes the future of B2B distributors means working with long tail vendors and enlarging the pie of profitability for everyone involved. Specifically, Michael has set his sights on growing Ingram's list of long tail partners. Individually, these long tail vendors have low gross market value (GMV), but each of them gives Ingram exposure to  pockets of potential customers that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Taken in aggregate, these small vendors raise Ingram's overall marketplace GMV.

In the coming years, Michael sees a continuous trend of resilience and profitability for vendors and distributors -- but only for those who make the digital decisions that also benefit their vendors and partners. He says, "For the past few years, we had to be omnichannel and allow our vendors to be omnichannel. But now it matters even more. The most important thing to us are [our] partners. It doesn't matter if [they're] a vendor or a customer. We want to make sure everybody's resilient with us. That's what matters.”

Convictional enables a distributor’s strategic expansion into multiple lines of business 

The team at Ingram Micro is working hard to help their partners become resilient and profitable. This means giving them access to all of the services Ingram has in their arsenal. A key part of being able to offer these services is building scalable, resilient, and profitable systems into Ingram itself.

Before working with Convictional, Michael and Ingram would have taken months, maybe years, of work to build a marketplace with a long tail vendor strategy in mind. They would have to build workarounds around each vendor's ecommerce environment, processes, and EDI feeds.

With Convictional manning Ingram’s infrastructure, Michael is confident about the future. "Whether it's five years from now or a year from now, Convictional drives our key strategy and allows Ingram Micro to be embedded with the largest breadth of lines of business globally."

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