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Four priorities for JanSan distributors in 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The JanSan distribution and resale industry has been slow to adopt digital marketing and e-commerce, according to Essendant. However, as large retailers encroach in the space and elevate customer demands for online, self-service experiences, JanSan distributors can no longer rest on their laurels.

To take a closer look at how the industry is changing and how distributors can adapt accordingly, Essendant surveyed 114 JanSan distributors (manager level and above) about their pain points, investments, and plans for digital marketing and commerce strategies.

The report found that few JanSan distributors today enable e-commerce, but those that do find their sites to be effective channels for driving additional sales. So as customer demand for e-commerce in B2B industries grow, JanSan distributors have an opportunity to capture market share by embracing digital.

JanSan distributors may want to consider the following investments to gain a competitive edge in 2018 and beyond:

Hire a digital marketing and/or e-commerce coordinator. To get the most out of your digital marketing investments, the first thing you should do is hire a digital marketing or e-commerce coordinator. Without an experienced professional dedicated to pushing the program forward, digital initiatives won’t be prioritized ‒ especially if your organization has historically resisted digital change.

Integrate digital marketing to boost product awareness. Today, many business buyers research products online before ever reaching out to a sales person. So JanSan distributors can gain a leg up by engaging these potential buyers digitally. According to the survey, distributors note that social media (54 per cent) and email marketing (37 per cent) are the most effective digital marketing tactics.

Invest in e-commerce capabilities. The study also found 28 per cent of distributors have a website, but don’t sell or list products online, and another 11 percent don’t have a website at all. While it’s important to maintain the human element in the JanSan sales process, it’s critical that you  build an online brand and storefront to keep up with competition and buyer expectations.

If you already have e-commerce, boost your capabilities. Of the 53 per cent of distributors that have an e-commerce channel, three in five (59 per cent) say their online presence is ‘excellent.’ And another 73 per cent report less than half their revenue comes from e-commerce ‒ indicating distributors aren’t using it to their full potential.

While it’s a great first step, distributors need more than just a basic e-commerce channel. They should look to invest in additional features like guided selling, complex pricing, flexible checkout options and more to drive more traffic and conversions on the channel.

To learn more key findings from the report, visit

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