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Distributor vs. Direct


In today’s B2B print world there are two basic business models, distributor vs. direct, and there are advantages to both. CFM is a print distributor; below are ten reasons to work with an independant print distributor as outlined by the PSDA (Print Services Distribution Association).

1. Working with a Print Distributor Will Add Value to Your Business

Partnering with a print distributor is a model for business success. Print distributors have the expertise and resources to turn any printing project into a well-executed program that is delivered right, within budget and within deadline each and every time. No matter how complex or common your project may be, a print distributor can add value to your business and act as your company’s personal consultant.

  • $14 billion of print is sold through this segment of the print industry annually.
  • 20% of all printing sold annually flows through this industry segment.
  • 25% of all printing businesses classify themselves as print distributors or print brokers.
  • 10% of all printers sell exclusively to the trade.
  • 45% of commercial printers actively sell through the trade.

2. Print distributors serve as a singular source, representing a variety of different vendors.

Most businesses operate more efficiently when they work with fewer vendors. Print distributors capitalize on this effective and efficient business model by functioning as a single resource that represents a wide array of printed products and services. Many print distributors have printing partners with an established expertise. Specific printers specialize in integrated cards, commercial printing, digital printing, web-to-print, e-commerce solutions, VDP, personalization, pURLs and more. When you elect to work with a print distributor, you remove the need to source your projects to each individual printer based on project requirements and are able to source your entire program through a print distributor with the knowledge and assurance that your project will be completed correctly, on time and within budget.

This asset is not only useful on a day-to-day basis, but incredibly helpful when your project entails a highly complex product, unique item or has a tight deadline. In these difficult situations, a print distributor is in a position to help your company find the best solution for your immediate and long-term needs.

3. Print distributors provide services, not just products.

While print distributors are equipped to help you purchase your day-to-day business products, like Stationery and business cards, their expertise far exceeds standard transactional orders. Print distributors specialize in offering an array of valuable, time-saving, money-making services. Partnering with a print distributor will allow you to build successful programs and reach your ROI goals. Depending on your distributor partner you can expect to receive:

  • Well-rounded marketing and advertising campaigns from direct mail to email programs
  • Inventory reports, pick and pack services, distribution to multiple locations and fulfillment services
  • Complex forms and tags, plastic cards, book / catalog production
  • Mailing lists management, graphic design services, web programming
  • Critical document management and distribution
  • E-commerce and web-to-print solutions
  • And more…

4. Print distributors stay abreast of technological developments.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s essential that your business partners stay ahead of the technology curve. Print distributors are highly trained professionals whose job requires them to stay up-to-date on variable data printing, pURLs, e-commerce solutions and other technologies so you don’t have to. When it comes time for you to take your business to the next level, a print distributor can not only introduce you to cutting-edge technologies that will help increase your project’s success rate, but they can help you implement these new strategies. Print distributors work with qualified printing partners who understand these new technologies, making sure your program specifications are sourced to the right printer each and every time.

5. Print distributors offer custom solutions to your problems.

Print distributors are consultants who can help make your internal processes and your B2B or B2C document and marketing programs run more efficiently, saving your company time and money. These printing professionals understand how to eliminate obsolete documents, combine documents for improved efficiency or convert documents to electronic forms when it makes sense. They also can analyze business processes to help you weigh the pros and cons of different technology solutions to increase your ROI and enhance your brand exposure. Print distributors are experts in offering customers solutions that will increase their customers’ bottom lines. Understanding your business is at the core of their business.

6. Print distributors can get the best products, price, and delivery combination.

Print distributors are not bound by the policies, product lines or production limitations of any single source of supply. By working with a wide array of printers and business partners, print distributors can deliver your product at a fair price. They work with their customers to understand each project and are able to offer recommendations on how to produce a finished product that meets project requirements and remains within their customers’ budget. Using business partners nationwide, print distributors have access to an array of products and are able to reduce freight costs by selecting a printer near your delivery site.

7. Print distributors sell the majority of products in the marketplace today.

A recent research study showed that distributors control 71% percent of the market for forms, labels, checks, direct mail and other business printing. In fact, many businesses work with print distributors on a day-to-day basis, but are unaware that they are doing so.

8. Print distributors are true business partners.

Print distributors pride themselves by going above and beyond to do business exactly the way their customer wants. This includes providing customized inventory reports and invoices designed the way their customers prefer to receive them, meeting with them when and as often as they like, and shipping and packaging items the way their customers want to simplify processing time. When you work with a print distributor, rest assured that you are gaining a true business partner who is focused on your objectives.

9. Print distributors specialize in helping businesses of all sizes.

Print distributors have experience working with local start-ups, mid-sized companies, and national corporations with multiple locations. Because print distributors serve clients in and across a variety of industries and vertical markets they can use the expertise they’ve gained in one industry to solve problems within your company and work with you to provide the right solution to your needs every time.

10. Print distributors can help out in a crisis.

As a business partner, print distributors become an extension of your company. They help their customers avoid inventory shortages and work with them through other emergency situations. And, if a situation arises that is beyond anyone’s control, print distributors have the network and expertise to assist you with rush orders, emergency consultations and trouble-shooting to make even the most difficult situation look easy.