How and why SSL, the Internet and Amazon Supply could change everything for Lighting Distribution:
Five years ago, we were in the light bulb business. Today we’re in the semiconductor business. Five years ago, we were dealing with three lamp companies. Today we’re dealing with a dozen or more. Five years ago, no one asked whether Philips, Osram or GE would still be in business in 5 years. Today we get asked that legitimate question about every SSL startup. Five years ago, no one asked about LM79 and LM80 tests, performance warranties, driver failure, flicker, whose chip is being used, future proofed lighting etc. Today, these questions are routine.
Five years ago seems like ancient history!
Today, I’m thinking about 5 years from now. I’m not a weather forecaster, but I can feel a storm coming. What will Lighting Distribution look like 2, 3 and 5 years from now? How will Wholesale Distribution itself be different? What does Lighting Distribution have to do to stay relevant in our business model? How does Lighting Distribution anticipate, detect and interpret the storm clouds on the horizon? In no particular order, here is a short list of storm clouds to keep any Lighting Distributor awake at night: Amazon Supply and same day delivery – Apple – Google – Cisco and other tech giants in or coming in to the Lighting Business – Disintermediation – IoT – Smart Lighting – Smart Lighting products as OEM components of Smart Systems – socket saturation and MRO business disappearing over time – light as a Service – 50,000 hour LED products – 80,000 hour fluorescents – increasingly desperate competition – lower SSL product pricing – lower margins – death of Brick and Mortar retail – Drones – driverless cars and robot delivery men!
Back to the forecast…..some Lighting Distributors may already be out of business, just don’t know it yet. My suggestion starting today is to stir up some company anxiety, and to urge calm, thoughtful conversations on the ‘what if’s’ about my incomplete list above. If it doesn’t already exist, it’s time to create a culture of collaboration and innovation ( see www.unleashwd.com ), deliberately evolve away from the logistics focus of traditional distribution, and to concentrate on bringing valuable lighting and energy solutions, not just products, to clients. Lighting Distribution has its own climate change coming. It’s critical to rethink our business models and evolve to the next iteration of Lighting Distribution. And always remember that with great threats come great opportunities. Post your comments here……..or you can email Chris Brown Chris_Brown@wblight.com directly if you want to vent too…