The office supplies market continues to get hammered by Amazon, Staples and other competitors that have driven the buyer online with easy-to-use websites and quick shipping. In fact, ecommerce sales continue to outpace brick-and-mortar in the office supplies segment. It’s an indicator of the ongoing shift to digital in these markets, and one that most office supplies dealers are well-aware of.
Amid this shift, small and mid-sized office supplies dealers are facing a rapidly consolidating market, with Staples – a growing threat over the past five years – agreeing to buy wholesaler Essendant, with its $5 billion in sales, for a little less than $1 billion earlier this year. As Tom Gale, publisher of Modern Distribution Management, wrote in May: This move to consolidate the largest players in the market helps defend against a “long list of competitors – digital, retail and otherwise – that have decimated traditional channels for office products.”
It’s all due to the ongoing behavior change by B2B buyers across all distribution segments. A B2BecNews survey found half of all companies now conduct more than half of their corporate purchases online. Unfortunately, about a quarter of distributors across segments still don’t have a website they consider usable by their customers, according to a recent MDM survey. And about half that have implemented a transactional site aren’t happy with their results.
Ecommerce is table stakes in 2018 and beyond, with benefits to the dealer that include operational efficiency, increased wallet share, new opportunities for growth and reduced customer churn.
To stay in the game, dealers must offer an online experience that includes everything from transaction and order management to product recommendations. While access to ecommerce solutions is growing for small and mid-sized dealers, in some segments, those options are increasingly limited. More are looking for user-friendly and robust alternatives.
To help dealers meet the toughest requirements and compete today, Enavate has recently upgraded its Customer Connect eCommerce web platform, providing the experience customers expect online, including:
- Advanced favorites lists, lists of frequently purchased items by group or location, and the ability to import items for purchase
- Sales Rep Connect, providing access to sales reps for customer-specific ordering, item-price manipulation and contract maintenance.
- Access to order history, and ability to generate new orders from old purchases
- And more
About the Author - Brett Vest
Brett is a Managed Services leader with more than 20 years diverse experience in eCommerce development, marketing, integration, and implementation. For the past eight years, he has worked in the Microsoft Dynamics space as well, as the eCommerce space at ENAVATE, combining his skills to assist customers with their implementation and support needs. Brett resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his family and enjoys the diverse city life, sports, and outdoor activities.