When Sonepar hired Jochen Mall in 2015 as the international industrial supplies distributor’s chief digital officer, he was charged with overseeing a new emphasis on digital commerce across more than 200 separate businesses in 44 countries. The Sonepar companies are in different stages of incorporating or enhancing the online commerce channel of their industrial supplies businesses, making the task all the more challenging, Moll said.

But embracing digital commerce isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, Moll told attendees in the B2B Workshop Tuesday at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. “All of them are at different stages and it’s a combination of traditional business and digital,” he said. “There always will be traditional, personal sales. Digital is important, but you can’t push it too far.”

Sonepar’s top management is behind the transformation to digital commerce, but everyone in the organization needs to understand it’s a journey, not a one-time project, Moll was quick to point out.

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