This is the first part of a three-part article about business-to-consumer distribution software.

As big-box stores and online retailers add more and more cleaning products into their offerings, the market pressure for jan/san distributors gets tighter and tighter. Distributors are investing in and improving their businesses to compete with the likes of Staples, AmazonSupply and other “Goliaths” for business-to-business (B2B) customers. In addition, some distributors are deciding to compete with these same retailers and e-tailers in the business-to-consumer (B2C) online market and sell to consumer clients as a way to increase market share and profits.

Distributors are not venturing into this uncharted territory on a wing and prayer; rather they are investing in the latest Web and customer relationship technology. This allows them to tap individual prospective clients and secure sales of office and cleaning supplies, according to several distributors. For example, distributors can capture sales of paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups, napkins, and towels for large events or small office facilities.

“I think a lot of people in our industry want to believe in their heart of hearts that Staples cannot compete with us because of our added-value service, because we can serve our customer-base locally,” says Chris Carson, director of IT and supply chain management, Central Sanitary Supply, Modesto, California. “Any forward thinker would understand that Staples has some brilliant people, who are brainstorming right now how to compete with us on the added-value level and how do they go to market on a national level and provide the same expertise that we can.”

For Central Sanitary Supply, a consumer market initiative began a couple of years ago with the unveiling of a new customer relationship management (CRM) software solution and a new website for the purpose of selling office products, everything from furniture to paper.

“Companies that have not invested in technology are going to be completely left on the wayside,” says Carson.

next page of this article:
Distributors Can Find Both Business-To-Consumer And Business-To-Business Sales