Distributors’ perspective: Distributor’s importance

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by Maurice Desmarais

With ever-present changes occurring in our economy and industry, retailers and customers are constantly evaluating their current relationships with each other—including those with distributors. Here are some points to consider when evaluating your distributor relationship.

Distributors have the two “Rs”: resources and relationships.

  • Other supply-chain members may not have either of these “Rs” to buy/sell directly.
  • An experienced distributor can help you solve problems, plan a program and get results.
  • If there is a problem with a specific client order, are you connected with the manufacturer to resolve that problem? If you are a manufacturer, do you have enough customer service and technical representatives to cover hundreds of retail outlets?
  • What if you need to move product direct to a building site in a remote location?
  • Can you drive to a local location to pick up an “emergency” order?

Resources: Distributors have the contacts you need

  • Yes, you can buy/sell direct, but do you have time for the research that goes along with making informed decisions?
  • A distributor represents hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of products.
  • They have the power of warehousing product, ordering containers from overseas and buying in quantities and passing that bulk savings along to their clients.
  • A distributor represents one less hat for the independent retailer to wear and one less employee for the manufacturer to hire. Who else monitors avail- ability, orders and deadlines with such expertise and care?
  • Distributors provide education, training, credit assistance and a host of other services.
  • They can assist retailers with displays, marketing and promotions to their customers.

Your distributor is more than just a salesperson

  • Distributors have technical knowledge and offer it to their retail partners, ensuring proper specifications and installations.
  • In best-case situations, floor covering retailers will send their distributor sales representative along on sales trips to confirm specifications.
  • They are the trouble-shooters in complaint resolution who offer caring, individualized customer service to retailers and a ready-made technical services staff to overburdened manufacturers.
  • Working for both manufacturers and retailers, the distributor assures successful product placement all along the supply channel.

Distributors save money in the supply chain.

  • Distributors are logistical, technical and customer service specialists who understand how to order, store and ship product in the most cost-efficient manner.
  • As professional sales people, they understand that a floor covering sale is more than a price tag. It is an opportunity to solve a consumer’s problem and the answer is not always with “the least-expensive product.”
  • A distributor helps link the manufacturer to the retailer. This service comes at a cost, not an extreme mark-up.
  • A distributor is there with you when something goes wrong and when you need them.

The members of the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) are a vital part in the chain of distribution and are here to help you and your business thrive and survive.

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