Highlands’ Key Takeaways from Industry Week 2023

We sat down with six Highlands team members who attended Industry Week ’23 to hear what trends and key themes they observed. This year, the event powered by ISG, took place at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Highlands’ Attendees

  • Gordon Christiansen, President + Partner
  • Seth Raley, President + Partner
  • Jenn, McMahan, VP, Strategic Accounts
  • Monique Sluzynski, Business Development Manager
  • Steve Franson, Business Development Manager
  • Liz Bateman Grove, Director, Marketing

E-commerce + Digital Marketing

“E-commerce remains a hot topic and the enablement of the dealer to facilitate e-commerce transactions remains a challenge for some of the smaller players,” said Seth.

“I was delighted with the questions asked in my Seminar Session on digital marketing,” said Liz. “It’s obvious that Dealers are starting to be more thoughtful when it comes to their online presence and how they can compete differently in this space.”

Artificial Intelligence

“The larger distributors are investing in AI to support their business whether to simplify pricing or to take cost out of the supply chain via robotics,” said Seth.

“Most dealers were interested in the cobots [collaborative robots] that Essendant is testing in one of their warehouses,” said Steve.

Product Diversification

Gordon noticed product diversification is a continuing trend: “The shift from ‘carpet’ to ‘carpet + concrete’ has been quite a journey for many dealers, however, more are embracing this shift.”

Monique said the message should be clear to ISG members “EXPAND your product offering! New Products are KEY! DIVERSIFY into other product categories!”

Gordon also added, “The need to have specialist knowledge within Dealers’ organizations is apparent.”

The ‘Local Advantage’

“Dealers will continue to try to differentiate themselves with white glove service at a local level. That is being instilled into every employee who interacts with a customer including sales, customer service, the office staff, and the delivery driver,” said Seth. “They continue to believe service will allow them to retain their best accounts and to steal share from national distributors over time.”

Monique added, “Independent online resellers and dealers need to promote the ‘Buy Local’ and a ‘Connect with Community’ message to compete more successfully against the big box players and the online giants.”

“Using their local knowledge to their advantage when it comes to online advertising is something that Dealers were interested in,” said Liz. “It makes sense to play into their strength as locally owned businesses.”

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