Distributors Move Beyond Paper
A panel discusses the advantages, disadvantages and the necessity for value-added services.
For many years the job of distributors in the forms industry was to package, ship and deliver forms. By forms we mean those that are basic, tangible, paper-based and traditional. Today, however, the expectation of the distributor is to provide more than forms. End-users are looking for solutions to help them streamline their forms operations. In addition, as more businesses use the Internet, they're demanding special amenities to ensure the efficiency of electronic services.
In fact, BFL&S recently conducted a survey to find out what distributors are doing these days to maintain or boost revenue. Of the more than 200 distributorships that responded, 69 percent said they offered online ordering, 78 percent forms management software and 59 percent electronic order entry. A high percentage also reported providing direct mail and warehousing services, with 75 percent and 94 percent of distributors offering them respectively.
In order to find out why these value-added services have become a significant part of the forms industry, BFL&S questioned the following panel of distributors for a roundtable discussion:
- Mike Emis, president, Data Forms, Fayetteville, Ark.
- Gordon Peterson, president, Document Resources, Minnetonka, Minn.
- Jack Schachtel, president, CTP Solutions, Agoura Hills, Calif.
- Gary Watson, president and director, Elite Forms Service, Muncie, Ind.
Why do you offer value-added services?
Watson: We offer them primarily because of customer requests. We listen to what our clients say and what their business issues are and then decide if we can offer a solution. We want to broaden our product line to offset any losses that might come with the conventional products we offer. By doing so, we've found that it's an interesting new way to sell forms.
Peterson: It was a way to differentiate ourselves from smaller competitors and to offer one-stop shopping for our clients. As a result, we've been able to increase our sales in traditional products.