Meet the winning suppliers in the 58 product categories of the 2015 Counselor Distributor Choice Awards (Click here to see the complete list). Plus, find out what the winners predict about customer service in the ad specialty industry in the future.
Distributors know when they receive top-notch service. Sometimes it happens seamlessly, almost not even recognizable because it’s so smooth. Other times, like when an order goes slightly awry, it’s much more noticeable – as suppliers who go the extra mile show their best side when resolving problems.
Ultimately, though, the service that distributors receive from top suppliers can be seen through the thousands of transactions that are fulfilled every day in the ad specialty industry without a glitch. To honor that consistent and valued service, every year distributors vote for their top suppliers in a variety of product categories.
Welcome to the 2015 Counselor Distributor Choice Awards, which honors winning suppliers in 58 product categories. Chosen by ad specialty industry distributors, these suppliers display all the characteristics of great service: They deliver on time, communicate at every possible step in the process, admit mistakes when things go wrong, and partner with distributors to ensure that everybody’s ultimate client – the end-user – is satisfied.
For the first time, the 2015 Counselor Distributor Choice Awards program used ESP click data as a measure to determine finalists. It enhanced the awards by ensuring that the finalists in each category truly were chosen by a statistical measure showing the choice of distributors.
This year’s awards program also garnered nearly 70,000 votes from industry distributors, about 10,000 votes more than last year. In each category, distributors voted for their favorite supplier, and the winners are here. Then, look below to get predictions from some of these winning suppliers on how online consumer shopping and faster shipping is impacting the ad specialty industry. Plus, see how technology is changing their service offerings and find out what they’d like to see improved about the order process in this market.
How Are Online Consumer Sellers Affecting Service In the Ad Specialty Market?
“They are raising the bar for delivery times, but at the same time not providing that one-on-one customer support.”
“Our focus in 2015 is to use the technology that is now available to hasten turnaround times and improve communication.”
“We believe all customers, whether in promotional products or online, are demanding quicker turn times and this mindset is a bigger factor in the customer’s buying decision.”
“The customer no longer has to take any responsibility for the order. The concern is that if we move too fast, we will lose the quality that our customers want. The other issue is the return of items – we can’t just restock them.”
“People are expecting to be able to order products online and have their order within two days. This expectation is starting to filter out into other industries, including ours.”
“Amazon is affecting our industry by demonstrating how sales automation leads to faster transactions.”
How is Technology Changing Supplier Service Offerings?
“We’re moving to an entirely cloud-based ERP system where our CRM will be fully integrated with our website.”
“We have our own custom CRM program that allows us to track all communications with a customer for any order.”
“We utilize auto responses for tracking, a superior note system within our accounting system that helps us all keep track of where an order is in the system.”
Sacs & Boxes 2
“Evans is a paperless office environment – all movement of orders is done via work queues, so there is little wasted time.”
“All of our order proofs are sent via digital image to expedite the overall order process.”
“We have a new phone system that enables seamless transfer between all three of our sites to handle any surge in customer calls. We also have a Web services platform that enables our customers to check inventory levels.”
“Our new website gives our distributors improved search functionality, real time order tracking, updated sales tools, and many other options that will culminate into a complete online ordering package.”
“We have implemented e-customer service, and we have seen phone call counts drop by about two-thirds.”
Maple Ridge Farms
How Can the Promo Product Order Fulfillment Process Be Improved?
“All suppliers should be transparent about any order delays or inventory issues to best prepare their customers for success.”
“Education on what is needed for a purchase order to be complete is crucial.”
“It would be beneficial if there was more focus on complete and accurate POs. Many customers still leave out vital information to process an order, including the amount of changes on their art proof.”
“We need to develop more sophisticated order processing and shipping systems that are seamlessly integrated.”
Maple Ridge Farms
“Distributors and suppliers can improve the transmission of orders by linking IT systems to take human error out of the equation. There can be more education for distributors regarding the correct way to submit a clean PO. The industry trade organizations could work together to develop a common platform that could standardize the flow of orders.”
“Complete information at the beginning of the ordering process would be a great start.”
The Magnet Group