Archive for June, 2012

changing product mix in today’s office

Friday, June 29th, 2012

If you look back at
the products you were
selling ten years ago
and compare them
with what you’re selling
today, the differences may
surprise you. Dealers have added so many new products,
product categories and services to
their offerings in recent years that one wonders
what their bottom line would look like
if they hadn’t.
The change has come about for a number
of reasons. The economic downturn certainly
prompted dealers to look for new
sources of revenue, but other factors have
had a much greater influence.
Other factors affecting what customers buy
include:
n New people placing orders
n The elimination of purchasing
departments
n The influence of social media
n The Green movement
n The mobile marketplace—ordering
any time from anywhere
n Customers looking to reduce the
number of suppliers.
Some dealers are adding products for the
blue collar market—not just janitorial, but industrial
supplies, packing and safety items.
Predicting the future is risky business but if
we can put together an idea of the products
and services that our customers will need
and/or want a few years down the road, it
will certainly aid the planning process.
In the last five to ten years, independents
have been increasingly successful selling a
wider and wider variety of products to their
primary customer base—jan/san, coffee,
and breakroom, and more recently managed
print services.
Now, some dealers are going still further
outside the traditional office supply area,
selling to the MRO market and adding services
like recycling and shredding, equipment
repair and furniture services.
If we ask the question, “What products will
offices be using ten years from now?” and
believe that most everyone will be working
from a mobile office or at least doing their
work with a hand-held computer, they
won’t need a lot of today’s desktop items
and may not even need a desk. All communications
and all records will be digital so
you won’t need paper, which means you
don’t need a copier, which means you don’t
need a shredder, and so on.
This change may be a long time coming
and in the meantime, competitors are offering
more products, not fewer.
Perhaps a more important question to ask is
how technology-empowered customers will
want to purchase the products and services
they need. The Internet is the marketplace
of choice for more and more people.

from June issue of Independent Dealer Magazine
Jim Rapp

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