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WINTER 2020

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Distributor's Link Magazine Winter 2020 / Vol 43 No1

36 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

36 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Jim Truesdell James Truesdell is President of Brauer Supply Company, a distributor of specialty fasteners, insulation, air filtration, and air conditioning with headquarters in St. Louis. Mr. Truesdell is adjunct professor at Saint Louis University and Webster University. An attorney and frequently published writer, he is the author of “Total Quality Management: Reports From the Front Lines”. KEEPING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR E-COMMERCE As E-Commerce becomes more widespread how do wholesaler-distributors insure they get a share of that business? With “internet only” companies leaping out ahead in the development of technical platforms from which buyers will select their material needs, how do the wider variety of programs offered by the thousands of independent private businesses gain visibility and appear as viable sources to customers? This question is front and center as the General Services Administration (GSA) of the federal government moves to set a format for its buyers to secure everyday needs. Despite the expressed intent of Congress that the Agency insure access for a wide range of suppliers to the market, it appears GSA may be taking the easy road of settling on one e commerce model that will inevitably push its buyers to go with the one size fits all supplier Amazon whose platform is already familiar to many inside and outside of government. This will have the result of excluding many wholesalers from the market or compelling them to abandon their own investment in platforms and programs to migrate to the Amazon format. The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and its “On-Line Procurement Working Group” have been quick to respond. All of this is coming about under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 under which the House Armed Services Committee directed CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE that the GSA concurrently test three e-commerce models for commercial off-the-shelf items. But the language in the relevant Section 846 of the Act established criteria whereby only one existing commercial marketplace provider, the giant “Amazon”, could meet requirements. Congress did specify that GSA needed to go beyond this single marketplace and include multiple e-commerce portal providers in pilot tests for procurement before final implementation. The GSA did identify three portal models, but as they moved into Phase II of the project they apparently determined to use only the Amazon model. That might well be the easiest path for the Agency, but it will seriously limit competition and prevent a true testing of applicable alternatives. Even if GSA intends to open up to other venues in the future, the reality is that an initial launch limited to the single venue will cause that to be so embedded that there will be an impossible barrier of entry after the initial years of operation. NAW argues that it will just serve to “lock in” the Amazon style portal. Private businesses will have to change their approaches to comply and play catch up in an effort to get even a piece of the business. The Procurement Working Group has noted that there have been no congressional oversight hearings to examine this program either prior to or subsequent to its enactment. CONTINUED ON PAGE 122

The Nationwide Fastener Directory, a division of Abbott Interfast, LLC is entering its 47th year and our new edition will be online and live in January 2020. In addition to the search features our website now includes our Virtual Book. We are excited to announce additional new features this year: New Features for 2020 include: ¤ SAVINGS - additional items listed in the Virtual Book, in excess of the 500 included with our basic subscription, are now only .00 each, down from .50 ¤ Add additional items to our searchable online database FREE, up to 12,000 total ¤ For each additional paid item listed in the Virtual Book, add 2 additional ones to online database. ¤ OPEN RFQs, review all hard to find items that members have searched for in the last 3 weeks. ¤ Easier website access, no login required, simply check the box and verify you are in the trade. ¤ Manage my account, see all your own emailed inquires for the last 12 months, edit their status. ¤ New reduced advertising prices, 0 for any category tab, color ads and more. Join now for the year of 2020. This can be done by completing your application on our website www.nwfast.com or by calling us at 1-847-537-1300. Founded in 1948, Abbott-Interfast Corporation is a privately held corporation supplying screw machined products, assemblies, fasteners, through its OEP, Inc. division, plastic knobs, and the printing and distribution of The Nationwide Fastener Directory. We are a US company located in Wheeling, Illinois with customers throughout the Americas and around the world. We maintain a 5 acre, 100,000 sq. ft. facility, stocking thousands of standard parts for immediate shipment. For more information contact Abbott-Interfast Corporation, by Tel: 1-800-877-0789, Fax: 847- 459-4076, Email: info@abbott-interfast.com or visit them online at: www.abbott-interfast.com. THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 37

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