From websites to tablets, the jan/san industry traditionally has been slow to embrace technology. But that mentality and stereotype is changing as distributors realize they either need to modernize or become obsolete. Industry outsiders like AmazonSupply can easily compete for market share using the Web. How can distributors fight back and remain relevant?

Has e-commerce been successful for you? How are you encouraging more customers to use your website?

We have seen a steady increase in our web orders from non-customers so we see it becoming very successful. One the greatest benefits of our web catalog is that customers can go online, place an order, check status of an order, print an invoice, see their history, and check current and future pricing — all without picking up the phone. We have run specials for web customers only to encourage customers to get set up online with us. We also try to attract customers to the website by providing information online such as our online training modules.
— Scott Uselman, Manager and Director of Sales, High Point Sanitary Solutions, Houston

We are not satisfied with our level of success here yet. We have set multiple communications, developed training videos, launched a more robust site.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wisconsin

Very much so, over half of our business is conducted electronically. We are constantly encouraging customers to use our order process, and we have a salesrep portal so that orders are directly routed to the shipping floor, not through customer service, saving significant amounts of time.
— Jim Smith, Executive Vice President, HP Products, Indianapolis

Certainly, over 75 percent of our orders are via various e-commerce platforms that we utilize.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, California

Our website is currently undergoing updating and transformation. Today approximately 10 percent of our incoming orders are placed through our online ordering function. It is our goal to increase the percentage of customers who utilize this feature. We encourage online ordering through our sales team with brochures and in-person training. We also offer EDI ordering capabilities. Our website generates new customer inquiries. We recognize e-commerce as an important strategy in our future business expansion.
— Linda Silverman, President, Maintex, City of Industry, California

E-commerce is a great addition to our offering. We have about 15 percent of all of our orders come to use through our e-commerce platform. Our e-commerce is linked directly to our software so everything is in real time, which our customer like. We incentivize our customers to place their orders online by offering a small online discount for using the e-commerce. Our sales reps also do a great job in promoting because they find that when a customer orders online they add extra items that they find online that they never thought to order before. Typically those add-on items ship and bill at higher margins as well.
— Eric Cadell, Vice President of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Illinois

E-commerce has been a huge part of our success. We see an increased account penetration whenever our customers embrace our e-commerce platform. We continue to increase the amount of customers utilizing our e-commerce systems and we get positive feedback from their overall experience.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry, Canton, Massachusetts

We do not have online ordering direct from our website yet. It is forthcoming. Regarding encouraging customers to use our website, we encourage customers to use the manufacturer links we have on our site if they would like to see pictures or learn more about products.
— Andrew S. Parker, Vice President, T. Frank McCall's Inc., Chester, Pennsylvania

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

next page of this article:
AmazonSupply's Effect On Jan/San Distribution