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News & Press: Industry News

Essendant Reveals Jan/San Industry’s Digital Shift

Friday, March 23, 2018  
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US business products wholesaler Essendant has shed light on how the jan/san industry is evolving alongside the rise of e-commerce.

 

A survey of more than 100 resellers in the sector found that 43% were planning to invest in e-commerce within the next three years.

 

The cleaning supplies market has historically been a fragmented one, but recent consolidation means it is more important than ever for resellers to add value in their channel and maintain market share. Twenty years ago, local and regional companies dominated the industry, but now they have to compete with much larger new players such as Walmart and Amazon Business.

 

“This is an exciting time for jan/san resellers who are exploring ways to embrace digital enhancements to their customer experience. Even those who are just starting this journey seem well positioned to revolutionize the buyer journey in new and exciting ways – moves that will differentiate and insulate them from pure e-commerce players like Amazon. The path they can ill afford is to simply do nothing,” said Essendant VP of Marketing and Digital Michael Hauck.

 

Amazon alone was reported as having a direct impact on business, with 30% of survey respondents saying its entry had disrupted the industry, while another 30% said it resulted in a decline in customers. 21% said it led to decreasing profits, while 20% have seen competitors go out of business thanks to competition from the e-commerce company.

 

What’s more, consumer retail giants entering the market has led B2B customers to expect a more B2C-style experience, favoring mobile and online platforms over traditional forms of selling.

 

However, Essendant’s research has shown that the industry is lagging behind the shift to digital with 28% of jan/san resellers saying they had a website but did not sell or list products online, while 11% didn’t have a website at all. Of those that did have an online presence, 73% said that less than half of overall sales derive from e-commerce channels, indicating room for improvement.

 

Despite this shift to digital, the survey revealed that face-to-face relationships will always be an important part of the industry. 75% of respondents think building personal relationships is the best way to grow and maintain customer loyalty. Essendant suggests that this could be one way in which small resellers are able to outperform the bigger players

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Interacting with customers via social media was listed as the most effective tactic for driving sales among small resellers followed by word-of-mouth.

 

Hauck said that jan/san resellers needed to recognize that customer expectations are evolving, as consumers expect more intuitive, self-service ordering options to supplement the personal relationships they have with their dealers.

 

He added: “By integrating digital into the marketing mix and buyer experience, resellers and distributors can meet consumers where they are and provide them with information to make more informed choices. This key value proposition allows jan/san resellers to not only compete today, but win tomorrow.” - (OPI)


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