Why buy from a distributor when you can buy direct from the manufacturer?
Industrial distributors have been selling packaging products and equipment for decades, but are they still the best choice for companies in pursuit of industrial products? The answer is yes and here’s why…
Typically, full service, industrial distributors make their name by providing superb, personal service to their customers. In most cases, they work a small territory and are “local” to the companies they serve. They usually offer 24/7 service and have emergency spare parts and consumables on hand. Full service industrial distributors are in the business of developing relationships with their customers. Let’s talk about why those relationships are critical to customer satisfaction…
It is relatively easy for companies to find packaging products and equipment that meet their needs. Let’s face it, there are very few significant differentiating features between the products we buy to satisfy a need – personally and professionally. Take for example the purchase of an automobile. After you narrow down your needs and wants, you will probably find at least four models that suit your requirements. Typically, the deciding factors come down to relationships and service. It’s likely your decision on a model will be directly related to the salesperson you work with. You will choose the dealership that gives you the warm, fuzzy feeling and confidence that you are being sold the right car. You will choose the dealership that backs up your purchase with outstanding service and support.
The same is true when purchasing industrial packaging equipment. In most cases there is more than one manufacturer who offers a system capable of satisfying your application for a fair price. In the end, you probably purchase your equipment from someone you have developed a relationship with or from someone you can see yourself developing a relationship with. In most cases, an industrial distributor fits the bill due to their locale and ability, and willingness, to service you.
Also, the industrial distributor probably has access to multiple manufacturers’ products - they have a choice of equipment to propose. The benefit for the customer is that they are more likely to get a solution that fits their needs, not a solution that is pigeon-holed into a piece of equipment. This “choice” paves the way for interaction between the sales rep and customer in order to really pin down the right solution. The interaction builds the relationship. The manufacturer on the other hand may only have one solution to offer. So sometimes the discussion can be short and may lack the warm, fuzzy feeling.
Most manufacturers are engineering and manufacturing focused. Typically they do not specialize in sales and service. This is not a bad thing, however. Manufacturers are expected to spend their efforts on developing great products. They are the pioneers of innovation, and all of us depend on them. This is not to say that they have no place selling or servicing their products. It is important for them to be involved to understand the marketplace and issues with their products. But from the end-user point of view, manufacturers’ efforts are not always apparent. Although very critical, their efforts are typically behind the scenes in R&D. It can be difficult for an end-user to develop a sales/service relationship with an organization that operates with an engineering and manufacturing focus.
To sum it up, manufacturers and distributors have two very important, yet very different roles in the industrial packaging equipment arena. The success of one is dependent on the other and vice versa. And the success of the end-user is dependent on both.