Checklist to Selecting a Good Supplies Distributor28 Oct, 2011 imageSource
In today’s economy, consumers have never been more focused on cost savings and improved service. As a dealer, this can be a challenge as better service can mean higher costs. A major way to reduce costs and improve your service in laser printer toner products is to work with distributors that address a number of important issues.
Marketing Consultant Ray Meifert, of Agility Partners, Minneapolis, MN, found that the following areas are key in this selection process.
- Does the distributor offer a broad range of OEM and compatibles to address 90-95% of the market? The key here is to select a distributor who has an authorized relationship with OEM’s for its supplies and also offers a strong line-up of compatible laser toners. By purchasing from distributors with authorized relationships, you can participate in OEM rebates, reward and marketing programs.
- Are remanufactured products of OEM-like quality? Many suppliers claim they have quality but don’t have the process controls to back this up.
- The product should be remanufactured with quality as “its focus” to insure forward and backward compatibility with the OEM. Many suppliers’ compatible offerings don’t have this scrutiny as part of the process.
- Every product should be tested before shipping. Many suppliers’ laser toner cartridges are only batch tested. You can’t test quality by sorting, but this final step helps to eliminate “high flyers” from the market.
- The distributor should have a broad line of compatibles to avoid you having to go to multiple sources to service your customer needs.
- Does the distributor know the markets for the products? Many distributors sell various products and numerous product categories. As a result there are many companies distributing products that don’t understand the needs of the channel or the products they distribute. This is where specialty distributors can be a major assistance to you. Be sure that expertise goes beyond compatibles.
- Do they offer private label capabilities? Big Box suppliers & dealers offer certain brands that are available to everyone. You need a product line that allows you to differentiate. Ask if the distributor has the capability to private label products without much delay in customer delivery.
- Can they ship directly to your customers or technicians with next day delivery at no additional cost? A good distributor understands and operates its entire system under the concept of the “stockless system.” This means that they are experts in logistics and getting products to you or your customers in a timely manner. Under this process, the need for your dealership to stock imaging supplies is greatly reduced and service to your customers can greatly improve. All of this should be accomplished without premium shipping costs to you. A good distributor will provide next day delivery.
- Do they provide sales and marketing materials to help you sell? Most distributors sell product to you, and it ends there. You need to partner with those who care about making you more competitive. A proper distributor should provide sales materials and promotions to help you better address the buying behaviors of your customers. Promotions such as box inserts and gift card incentives are of tremendous value in increasing your sales of imaging supplies beyond just the machines you service.
- Do they guarantee to keep your customer records secure and to never sell against you? You should never be placed in a situation where you are competing for a customer against your supplier. Choose distributors that have a written guarantee on selling direct as well as keeping your customer information secure.
- Do they provide a turn-key MPS that you can take advantage of with your organization? Many distributors sell product but they don’t provide turn-key managed print solutions specifically designed for the office equipment dealer. Choose a distributor that provides a system without up-front cost. They should assist you in reducing your customer’s costs, improve their efficiency and do it in such a way that you can be more profitable at the same time.