Do you think AmazonSupply and other mega e-tailers will have an impact in the jan/san market? 

To a degree; our industry involves items that are large and bulky, and the freight considerations will limit that aspect of their sales. Distribution is a service industry first, and the e-tailers don’t have the expertise needed by the end-user, which is a significant difference in our business.
— Jim Smith, Executive Vice President, HP Products, Indianapolis

Absolutely 100 percent yes, and they already have had an impact. Although I don't think they bring the passion and focus inside our segment to be a long-term value added solutions for our clients.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry, Canton, Massachusetts

Yes, because buyers will have increased access to product information, pricing and availability.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wisconsin

It is not that they will, it’s that they already have. And they will have a greater impact as more and more buyers want the ease of going online and ordering from one supplier. However, while customers will use them based on perceived ease-of-use or perceived lower pricing, they will not be successful in all types of accounts or for the long term. Customers who need assistance will not  remain customers of mega e-tailers because they provide no support at the end user level, plus they have no training which is where a jan/san distributor can thrive and maintain customers.
— Eric Cadell, Vice President of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Illinois

Yes, I think Amazon and Staples have already made an impact in our industry. This just makes us work harder to stay in touch with our customers and continue the face-to-face meetings, training sessions, etc. The advantage the smaller jan/san distributor has over the mega e-tailers is our one-on-one service and product knowledge.
— Andrew S. Parker, Vice President, T. Frank McCall's Inc., Chester, Pennsylvania

I'm certain the mega e-trailers are having an impact on the market. As the children who grew up with Google enter the workforce, online commerce will continue to increase. Smaller jan/san distributors need to be ready to compete online with the big online retailers. In a way, utilizing online commerce can make a smaller distributor look bigger and more sophisticated than they really are. I think many purchasers are willing to do business with smaller independent distributors as long as it is easy. Having a presence online can make that possibility a reality.
— Scott Uselman, Manager and Director of Sales, High Point Sanitary Solutions, Houston

I believe there will be impact in our current business model from Amazon and other e-tailers. The vast majority of customers today use Amazon in their personal lives, whether to order books or other household items. Most people are comfortable with the process, which offers ease of ordering and quick delivery. It becomes a simple transition for our current customer base to order various peripheral items from these retailers. I doubt it will be everything in our product offering, but it can or will be selected items or pieces of equipment. Customers become accustomed to the ease in ordering and will expect that level of service from jan/san distributors. We need to have a robust site that is customer centric.
— Linda Silverman, President, Maintex, City of Industry, California

They do if the customer does not require specialized service and customized programs. For the distributors that offer a viable proposition and specialize in market segment the impact will be negligible.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, California

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief of Sanitary Maintenance and Contracting Profits

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