Traditional account and relationship management was key, but was mostly centred around whether the distributor had the right products arriving in the right quantities to support the retailer's promotional activities.
"We do a really good job of managing the stock in channel and understanding what exactly needs to arrive at what date and what date it needs to get to the store," Tye said.
In the commercial channel, in contrast, activity was often centred around a specific deal and the need to match a price or a product specification.
"It's more of a technical conversation to do with how we can fulfil a specific requirement,"Tye said. "It's more tactical in comparison."
To service retail, a distributor had to be strong operationally as well as strong in sales and managing relationships.
"We back that into the systems we use to automate the orders because the volume of orders attached to servicing the retail business is significantly higher than the commercial business. If you aren't operationally efficient that can work against you."
Exeed has put enormous effort into developing procedures and systems to support that, but the buyout will require those to be shifted from the company's existing Netsuite software into Dicker Data's systems.
"That is part of the integration role I'm involved in now, making sure the systems we are moving to are capable of supporting the requirements retailers have," Tye said.
COVID-19 presented an obvious wildcard in those equations as it disrupted international and local supply chains. Distributors required systems capable of supporting a pivot, virtually overnight, from the traditional deliver-to-store model to B2C, click and collect and a different kind of campaign strategy to support retailers' customers.
Those haven't always been easy challenges to address because of the volumes involved.
"We've learnt a lot over the last year and a half to cope with that," Tye said. "The best way to measure that is if the the performance of the retail channel is impacted. They seem to have got along okay this time round. We've learned to adapt and consumers have learned to adapt as well. They order and we ship direct to the consumer."
Ensuring stock and supply to meet customer demand was the real challenge because New Zealand is a long way from the factories and for freight companies to deliver.
"It's therefore expensive and we are often the last country to get service," Tye said. "That's the single biggest challenge and it's an industry-wide one."
The scale of the newly combined businesses was an important part of the solution because it would allow more physical capacity to be added next year. One outcome of the pandemic was an apparent erosion of brand loyalty, especially in the commercial part of the business.
"It's simply a fact of life: If you need a device to run a business and you can't secure the device that is normally your preference, you have to buy what's available," Tye said. "It's our job to manage that as best we can. We have customers that have a strong brand preference that haven't been as impacted as they might have been because we've done a better job of allocation and forecasting.
"That's where a huge amount of effort is going at the moment."