Supply chain management expert Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting GroupSM, hypothesized that Amazon and companies like Amazon have had an impact on service demands for manufacturers and distributors.

In a recent study measuring the "Amazon Effect," Anderson found that respondents ranked three areas where customer expectations have been impacted the most in the past three years: delivery/lead time, price negotiation and comparison, and pre-sale and post-sale service and support.

"For many of us in the manufacturing and distribution industry, these responses didn't come as a complete surprise," explains Anderson. "If there is one trend in common with all of my clients, it's that customers have been demanding more for less: and quicker than ever before. Shortened lead times have become the standard for running a manufacturing or distribution company competitively."

In addition, Anderson notes, "With the increased use of technology: customers want ordering, pricing, and delivery information online, up-to-the-minute, and available 24/7: much like [they get with] Amazon."

Anderson believes that without a technology infrastructure that readily communicates sales and service information to customers, manufacturers and distributors will have a difficult time competing.

Two-thirds of manufacturers and distributors participating in Anderson's study reported having to respond to the elevated service standards established by companies like Amazon.