Seiche Sanders' portraitThis month’s cover story is titled “The Art of Bundling.” When you consider the creative license distributors employ to put together appealing jan/san package deals, our story tagline isn’t much of a stretch.

But do jan/san distributors “push the envelope” to the degree apparent in other industries? Probably not.

Consultant Dave Kahle can think of several distribution industries that are innovators in terms of product packaging, or bundling. Jan/san suppliers, he thinks, are poised to follow in the footsteps of these product-packaging pioneers.

Kahle talked at length about one bundling strategy he thinks will develop traction in jan/san circles: negotiating customer-specific supply contracts strategically designed to increase sales volume. These contracts essentially bundle a distributor’s entire inventory by offering customers discounts or rebates based on increased purchasing. The contracts incent customers to devote more of their supply budget to that one distributor.

The effect on sales can be significant, Kahle says. “It’s not unusual for a do five or six times the volume that the traditional product salesperson will do.”

Product bundling discussions continue with “A Complete Approach to Restroom Maintenance.” We examine the vast array of products that, when used systematically, make for more appealing public restrooms. By selling “environments” rather than a hodgepodge of products, distributors are distinguishing themselves from their competitors.

Now it’s easier to get inside your customers’ heads. Customer-satisfaction surveys have long been used by distributors to analyze customer opinions, but new technology makes surveying — and deriving meaningful results from the data — much easier. Read more in “Survey Says: Ask Customers Online.”