B2B Catalogs versus “the local dealer/distributor”

I had a conversation with a client a week or so ago about the competition he was facing from “local dealers”.    He was complaining that his locally based competition had gained advantage over the years as they had immediate access for “drop ship tomorrow” delivery to just about any product a customer could want.   He also thought he could not compete with the face to face relationship and the “I’ll be right there” advantage of a local dealer.   (I call that the “bring donuts” advantage.)

After I thought about the conversation a little I realized that the same conversation has been taking place for the last 30 years.    He was essentially telling me about the advantages local dealers have always had.   Yet, as we know, B2B catalogers have grown tremendously over the same period.    So, I think it may be useful for us to remind ourselves what advantages the B2B cataloger has enjoyed against the local dealer.

B2B catalogers “centralize and specialize” and that allows them to do many things better, namely;

  1. Maintain a broader and deeper product offering.
  2. Anticipate rather than just respond to customer needs/wants.
  3. Keep all the offered products in stock for same day shipping, not relying on third party drop ship programs.
  4. Maintain an easily accessible order history, re-order system,
  5. Maintain better customer service (better trained, longer hours, toll free, easy access)
  6. Better handling of questions, returns, repairs and shipping/warranty claims.
  7. Offer high quality, consistent, technical support that only comes with continuous training, employee longevity and quality standard.
  8. Offer and continuously improve a catalog that educates, communicates and provides a reference for telephone sales.
  9. Offer a higher quality, consistent, telephone sales relationship; without the added calories of the donuts!
  10. Reach economies of scale only gained at the national level which in turn results in a more competitive selling price that the local dealer/retailer.
  11. Not charge state sales tax.
  12. Obtain lower shipping rates on their higher shipping volumes.

So, the next time we as catalogers get challenged by all the things local dealers have that we don’t let’s push ourselves to remember the many things that we can do better…and that donuts are just not good for anyone!

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes at b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

* indicates required field
This entry was posted in Catalog Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.