Today's expanding digital culture has altered the traditional brick-and-mortar landscape. It's no longer a question of when these changes will occur, but rather how companies can capitalize on this new business model.
E-commerce mobile applications particularly are a boon to shifting consumer technologies. Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, estimates businesses will generate 50 percent of Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications by 2015.
Distributors, take note. It is no longer enough to sell print—a growing segment of end-users also expect their print source to perform as a marketing services provider. This means helping them with e-commerce offerings, developing mobile applications and the like. But before rolling out a shiny new app, remember that mobile is a channel, or one part of the solution.
"People want to rush into mobile just for the sake of being in mobile. [...] But you need to do it right," said Stephen Derksen, business development manager, retail and hospitality for Toronto-based Xtreme Labs. "It's an investment in your brand, but it's really the glue that holds the brand experience together."
To gain a better understanding of this channel—the good, the bad and the technical—distributors are encouraged to partner up with an expert in the field. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Greystone Results is focused on helping distributors become marketing service providers. "We work with distributors to expand their service offerings into the multi-channel, multi-media space through the right mix of training, subject matter experts, project management and program execution support," explained Eli Sackett, vice president marketing technologies.
Sackett believes distributors should rethink their current position and adapt to the trends accordingly. "Traditional customers are not used to thinking about print and promotional products distributors as a source for marketing strategy, technology-based marketing services or results analytics," he commented. "It is easier than ever for our customers to find resources for each niche solution that they want to put into place.