The role of wholesalers as a valued partner for jan/san distributors has increased in recent years, thanks to rising order minimums put in place by manufacturers. With warehouse space at a premium, distributors like having an option to buy as much — or as little — of certain supplies as they need, and have those supplies shipped directly to customers. Wholesalers are strengthening their partnership with distributors by providing  

Wholesalers are dedicating technological and informational resources to making their websites destination sites for distributors by hosting a wealth of industry-related information for their customers.

“Philosophically, what we want to do is provide to our customers a portal. The intention of the portal is to allow them, just like with any search process, to get a lot of information not just about us. So we link back on issues that might be related to the CDC, we link back to the vendors, we give them timely information, current information, what’s new, etc.,” says Jeff Heeren, vice president of RJ Schinner Co., Menomonee Falls, Wis.

On the web, content is a big deal — and the more a site can provide, the better the chances to connect with customers and partners as a trusted source for information.

“More and more customers in the $1 million to $10 million range are looking for web content to include on their web sites — specifically product descriptions and images,” says Brian Schuster, marketing manager for Saalfeld Redistribution, Loveland, Ohio. “They are seeing the benefits of customer experience and efficiencies and making a web presence a priority for their distributorship.”

Distributors come to Logistics Supply, Charlotte, N.C., for not just data and fulfillment capabilities but also for information they aren’t finding elsewhere, says Donna Currie Bruno, president.

“Larger customers are coming to us for the data because we do a stellar job of not just collecting basic specs on products on manufacturers but providing actual sales copy and how-to information that is typically not readily available elsewhere,” she says.

RJ Schinner also has a blog, launched last year, specifically for distributor sales reps. It’s an additional tool that can help contribute to success, Heeren says.

“The intention of that is to have a one-stop shop for our distributor sales reps to get information and make them more successful,” says Heeren. “We want people to come to a site to get information when they need it.”

Wholesalers are seeing a unique opportunity to truly help their customers remain competitive with their web offerings.

“As we see major retailers and Internet servers such as Amazon, HD Supply and Grainger expand their reach, our customers will need more support to stay competitive,” says Currie Bruno. “Our independent distributors have the knowledge and skills to be the logical choice for their customers, and with [wholesalers] providing the back-end services and platform for them to expand product offering and distribution services, as well as marketing, we will ensure [distributors] stay the choice.”