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Larry Arntz has chocolate on his home page and it’s not because he’s messy by nature. The chocolate connection is available on Arntz’s promotional products website because a savvy supplier collaborated with the distributor to make it happen.
And both are smiling.
This confection collaboration is the result of what is proving to be a winning recipe, that being the sharing of online product information for presentation to more buyers. Suppliers have at their disposal the ability to directly provide distributors with customized websites featuring the suppliers’ products. Even better, the products are displayed with the distributors’ name and brand.
Case in point is Astor Chocolate Corp., which has parlayed this capability into recruiting independent distributors – many who do not put priority on branded confections – to embrace high-end chocolates in their mix of offerings. It’s enabled Astor Chocolates – a leader in private-label chocolate amenities for the hospitality sector – to generate significant revenues in the promotional products industry.
DistributorCentral worked with Astor Chocolate to create a dynamic chocolate gifts website that can be easily copied and customized to distributor accounts for immediate use. DC designed a website template in such a way that Astor Chocolate has control of its online product images, specials and information as listed on distributors’ websites. Updates as needed for seasonal promotions or new product offerings can be simultaneously posted across all participating distributor websites.
“Bottom line is we’re giving dist-ributors a living, breathing tool to increase sales,” said Charles Duggan, National Accounts Manager, Corporate Sales Division, Astor Chocolate.
Larry Arntz, whose Virginia-based promotional products consulting group serving clients in the Mid-Atlantic states, said adding Astor Chocolate to his product offerings was “a no brainer.” As evidence of the partnership’s success, he points to the Bronze Pyramid Award for Distributor/Supplier Collaboration as was presented to Arntz and Astor at January’s PPAI Expo.
“It’s been a great tool,” said Arntz. “We appreciate it when suppliers do this sort of thing. It’s quick and easy and allows us to show clients more products.”
According to Jason Nokes, President of DistributorCentral, an increasing number of suppliers use online web templates and links to proactively partner with distributors to generate sales. Nokes said it’s part of a movement away from traditional supplier-based thinking where the responsibility of selling to end users was up to distributors.
“Suppliers increasingly understand the importance of working in true partnership with distributors,” said Nokes. “Technology provides the means for suppliers to provide distributors the means to show the product to customers and prospective customers.”
Sean McColl understands how to put such technology to work. As a sales associate with Austin-based Boundless Network, he takes advantage of branded product websites and online catalogs as provided by the likes of Astor Chocolate, Galleryboard Packaging, SanMar and AdMints.
“It’s a progressive approach on the part of suppliers,” said McColl. “This helps us brand ourselves and increases the likelihood the client will buy from us.”
McColl, who represents literally thousands of products, said at the very least the branded sites as provided by suppliers help keep the product top of mind. When buyers like an idea and have a link to a branded website featuring that product, it’s the distributors’ name on the site who’s most likely to be contacted.
“Obviously the product has to be the right fit and at a fair price,” said McColl, “All things being equal, I will suggest to buyers the site that has my name on it.”
Duggan at Astor Chocolates considers the websites as developed and hosted by DistributorCentral to be Astor Chocolate’s competitive advantage at this stage of the company’s foray into the corporate market. He credits the various e-Commerce management, tracking and web hosting tools as available on DistributorCentral to be an added bonus.
“On the template side, DistributorCentral helped us set things up from a retail perspective,” Duggan said. “We see the site giving distributors another chance to grow their revenue. They didn’t have the tools the capture the business. We’re giving them the tools.”