The Mythical Threat of Direct Sales
While the Internet and supply-chain transparency are for the most part pretty great (being able to download any movie ever, knowing which overseas factories are responsible for packing gunpowder and live, sting-crazed hornets into children's lunchpails), there have been some downsides. Your great aunt Selba's constant Facebook posts about ferrets and their relation to the American political system for one, but also (and perhaps slightly more importantly) direct selling.
It's always been an issue, but with the rise of the all-knowing information dispenser, "the Internet," direct selling has reached an all-time high. Once-exclusive suppliers and manufacturers can set up seemingly separate, direct-to-consumer wholesale webstores with minimum effort. And on the other side, once-loyal clients can now Google and LinkedIn their way to your supplier with approximately 45 minutes of research.
It's a difficult and scary situation—at least at first-glance. With everyone having the ability to cut out the middle portion of the distribution channel, it seems like eventual irrelevancy would be an absolute fact. But, the exact opposite seems to be the case. Rather than eliminating the middle of the print and promotional supply chain, direct selling has shown exactly how critical distributors are to the process. Read on to hear how many distributors are not only unconcerned with the threat of direct selling, but have turned it into an opportunity to highlight their strengths and deepen their relationships with their customers.
HALO BRANDED SOLUTIONS
"Direct selling has not had a meaningful impact on our business. Each participant in the chain of distribution, from designer to manufacturer to importer to distributor to end-user, has to earn his or her place in the chain by delivering value. Our valued account executives deliver value to their end-buyer clients through their creativity, sourcing, reliability and know-how. As a result, they play a critical role in quarterbacking the entire process from conception to delivery and continue to earn their place in the chain by delivering quantifiable value. HALO's mission is to add value to our account executives by supporting their efforts and anticipating their needs. As a result, we also play a critical role in the process, and we earn our business every day of the week through our logistical, event, technology and sourcing capabilities, and support services that make our account executives more effective."
– Marc Simon, CEO of HALO Branded Solutions, Chicago