electric material handler


Revolutionizing Material Handling for Electricians: Secure Package Lockers

The electrical distributors market, a critical link in the chain powering our modern world, faces unprecedented challenges post-pandemic. These disruptions are not solely due to the global health crisis but are also the result of a multifaceted storm of complications that have shaken the industry’s foundations.

A Confluence of Disruptive Forces

A complex blend of factors has unearthed a rift between supply and demand, throttling the progress of renewable energy initiatives and compelling the industry to strive for a more secure, stable, and resilient supply chain.

The War in Ukraine

This conflict has sent shockwaves through international markets, heightening geopolitical uncertainties reverberating to the electric distribution sector, both in Europe and around the world.

Supply Chain Uncertainty

Numerous logistics hurdles have risen unexpectedly, making the once predictable flow of goods more treacherous for electrical distributors.

Raw Material Shortages

The demand for raw materials has surged, yet supply is trailing, creating bottlenecks in production lines.

Labor Shortages

Skilled workforce deficits are stunting the market’s ability to meet demands, leading to delays and increased labor costs. This elevates the importance of good material handling systems, among other warehousing and fulfillment solutions.

Rising Cybercrime

The cyber landscape has grown more perilous, as demonstrated by the SolarWinds software compromise in late 2020. High-profile data breaches have heightened scrutiny over cybersecurity practices throughout the supply chain.

Stacy Hughes, CISO at investment management firm Voya Financial, emphasizes the gravity of data security: “Every organization should assess where their sensitive data resides, whether third and fourth parties can access that data, and whether those organizations uphold robust data classification policies.”1

Escalating Energy Costs

Domestic distributors remain bound to the vagaries of international oil markets, exerting upward pressure on operational expenses.

Ways to Improve Electrical Material Distribution

A Deloitte study reveals a stark picture: 98% of electrical power and renewables executives report that material shortages, logistical disruptions, and shipping gridlocks have tangibly impaired their operations.2 Material distribution needs to be tackled, and digital and marketing initiatives need to be embraced.

Enhance Customer Experience with Omnichannel Solutions

Electrical distributors must create a unified shopping experience to satisfy customer expectations. Omnichannel shopping means integrating online stores with social media channels and physical retail locations to ensure consistency across all platforms — from browsing and ordering to delivery and support. By giving customers an omnichannel experience, distributors provide convenience, speed, and a personalized touch.

As Ryan Rambsy, director of marketing and digital solutions at State Electric, explains: “In 2024, our primary digital commerce priorities revolve around maintaining our position as an industry leader while enhancing customer experience and expanding our toolsets. Our main goal is to ensure a seamless and frictionless journey for our customers, encompassing not only procurement but every facet of their interaction with us.”3

Embrace Digital Transformation

The power of digitization can’t be understated. It allows electrical supply distributors to stay competitive and amplifies distribution efficiency. By leveraging technological advancements (such as electric material handlers for order fulfillment or smart parcel lockers for order collection), companies can meet the fast-paced demands of clients who crave real-time interactions and intelligent solutions. 80% of B2B customers expect responses and interactions in real time.4

Leverage Technology for Strategic Advantage

Technological advancements are transforming the distribution industry. The integration of omnichannel strategies is just the start. Electrical supply distributors can significantly enhance their operations using analytics, supply planning, and logistical support (such as a material handling system) powered by AI and machine learning. These technologies offer a previously unfathomable level of insight and efficiency to every supply chain step, helping lower the operating cost of doing business – from inventory management to customer engagement.

Adapt to New Competitors

A competitive shift in the landscape has also occurred. Established B2B distribution companies are diversifying their offerings, while major B2C e-commerce giants are entering the B2B space, bringing the customer-centric focus that has dominated the B2C market. This intensifies the need for traditional electrical material distributors to innovate and adapt or risk losing ground.

Offer Value-Added Services as a Differentiator

Electrical supply distributors are encouraged to enhance their value proposition by offering added services that streamline ordering and improve overall customer satisfaction. In a post-pandemic era, these value-added services have become niceties and necessities as consumer expectations carry over into B2B relationship demands.

Why Distributor Efficiency is Important

In the world of electrical distribution, optimizing supply chain efficiency isn’t just a lofty goal; it’s a linchpin for business success. At the crux of supply distribution efficiency lies the power to enhance sales and profit margins and fortify customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In 2022 alone, the wholesale/distributor market saw a staggering revenue of over $80 billion, signaling distributors’ critical role in the anatomy of commerce.5 However, their responsibility extends far beyond transporting products from one point to another. Industrial distributors are the unsung supply chain heroes, offering vital services that aid customers in discovering, assessing, and procuring electrical components.

Revolutionizing Electrical Supply Distribution with Parcel Lockers

Adding parcel lockers creates a meaningful point of difference, adds a value-add component, and streamlines customer order fulfillment. Various indoor/outdoor smart parcel lockers meet fulfillment needs, including one-door and three-door oversized solutions. Parcel Pending by Quadient’s Buy Online, Pick-Up in Locker (BOPIL) technology can help electrical supply distributors build a consistently superior omnichannel customer buying experience, all with lower maintenance costs than manning order collection counters.

Oversized Lockers Work for Distributors

Many electrical supplies are large and bulky; oversized lockers can accommodate the needs of 90% of distributors. For instance, Ferguson, a leading distributor of electrical and HVAC products, recently installed Parcel Pending by Quadient smart lockers and oversized lockers to meet customer demand. With over 1,500 locations across the United States, Ferguson wanted to provide contractors with convenient, self-service transactions for large and bulky items at high-volume sites.

24/7/365 Accessibility

In the fast-paced world of electrical services, professionals count every minute. Picking up supplies should be quick and straightforward; otherwise, it impedes productivity and profitability. Standard electronic lockers and oversized lockers cater to customers by offering 24/7/365 access. This flexibility ensures that tradespeople can retrieve their purchases beyond the store’s operating hours, catering mainly to those on stringent project timelines.

The electrical distributor market is facing unparalleled challenges. However, the opportunity to excel includes adapting to the changing landscape. Installing smart lockers is a crucial game changer, cementing customer loyalty, adding value, and streamlining order fulfillment – all with lower maintenance costs

Ready to grow your electrical supply business? Contact one of our parcel management experts today


  1. Rundle, James. Companies Take a Closer Look at Supply Chains After Recent Cyberattacks www.wsj.com. March 20, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/articles/cyber-chiefs-are-wary-of-vendor-security-a09cc57e
  2. Thompson, J., Hardin, K., Motkya, M. et al. Electric power supply chains: Achieving security, sustainability, and resilience www2.deloitte.com. September 29, 2022. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/power-and-utilities/supply-chain-resilience-electric-power-sector.html
  3. Brohan, Mark. How electrical supplies distributor State Electric sparks change to drive more digital commerce www.digitalcommerce360.com. March 8, 2024. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2024/03/08/how-electrical-supplies-distributor-state-electric-sparks-change-to-drive-more-digital-commerce/
  4. Bromfield, P., Gujral, A., Korsch, M., & Rogalski, A. Industrial Distribution: Opportunities for Differentiation and Growth www.lek.com. July 12, 2023. https://www.lek.com/insights/ind/us/ei/industrial-distribution-opportunities-differentiation-and-growth
  5. Ibid.