Distributors Move Beyond Paper
How important is it that most distributors offer some types of value-added services?
Emis: I believe value-added services are necessary for distributors to be effective in the marketplace. It's not as simple as keeping up with the Joneses, but customers read about these services in their trade magazines and want to utilize them. It's just the way the migration of procurement is heading.
Watson: If a distributor wants to be in business long term then it's the proper thing to do. We are basically here to build partnerships with our clients. In fact, we hired a full-time employee due to a request generated by one of our Fortune 500 clients. Depending on your interests and different opportunities, anything you can do to broaden value-added services will be a benefit.
Schachtel: Distributors have to offer value-added services or their clients will bid out for traditional forms, which have become a commodity market. It's too risky for distributors who don't offer value-added services to rely too heavily on strong relationships with long-term customers, because personnel will always change. It is just too easy these days for distributors to lose traditional orders to lower bidders.
Do you see value-added services being a major part of a distributor's business in the future?
Peterson: Definitely. Value-added services will continue to become a major part of business over the next several years, beginning with larger companies and then trickling down to smaller ones. Eventually, most organizations will complete, distribute and archive their present-day forms in electronic formats.
Schachtel: I believe we need a mix of both value-added services and traditional ones. There are only so many value-added products and services you can offer. Even in the next several years, distributors will need to offer value-added services as a complete package.
Emis: Absolutely, because, in a nutshell, we saw the forms in-dustry change rapidly with the advent of the laser printer, so something had to be done to open up new avenues of opportunity. After all, nobody thought the fax machine was going to be a big deal.