We came across this article that Rob wrote a few years ago that rings so true today! Get ready for a good read…
Insight into the Market
Checker handles a very diverse inventory of products from several different craft related areas including quilting, sewing, needle arts and crafting. This allows Checker to offer Independents “up to date” information on current trends through the new products we purchase. Checker has a team of buyers and each one provides valuable insights into the market’s direction. This keeps Checker at the forefront of what is happening with new products, trends and ideas. Direct companies are limited to their particular product category. They do not offer the very broad insight into several different areas like a distributor can.
Product Selection & Saving Time
Many distributors offer extensive product selections. For example, Checker carries over 80,000 items from 800 different vendors. Shop owners appreciate the selection distributors offer because they don’t have to deal with several different companies to buy their products. Keeping track of multiple orders, shipments and invoices from numerous companies is time consuming. Utilizing distributors for “under one roof” consolidation of purchasing saves time and allows greater choices than could be realized from direct suppliers.
Because we present such varied products we offer cross-merchandising tips on related products to maximize sales. Checker buyers, sales reps, and customer service reps are very knowledgeable about related products and how they can be merchandised together to maximize sales.
Products Not In CHains
Checker provides our listing of NICHE products. NICHE stands for products not found in chain stores. Independent shops should focus on carrying products not found in chains when ever possible. For example, Checker’s Creative Grids Rulers are only sold to independent shops. There are also Independent Only fabric lines produced and sold by distributors.
Products Made in the USA
All products listed on the website that are “Made in the USA” display an icon of a flag. We support companies who choose to manufacture their products in this country and save jobs.
Fabrics – Variety and Choices
Distributor sales reps allow shop owners to view several different fabric lines at the same time. Direct reps may only show a few lines of fabrics. The access to viewing several different linesof fabric while making their decision is truly an asset. In most cases distributor pricing on fabric is very close if not the same as direct. Many times, a distributor is actually closer geographically to the shop, which saves on freight charges. The ease of viewing multiple lines at once, buying smaller quantities, possible savings on freight charges, not having to deal with factors and consolidated billing is often times worth the minor price difference, if one exists.
Checker’s web site, www.checkerdist.com. displays the top 20 sellers our top categories, These items are not limited to one brand of product like a direct company, but rather the best-selling items taken from hundreds of different vendors. This gives the independent shop the opportunity to quickly check and see that they are carrying what is selling nationally.
Another unique asset Checker provides customers is the “What’s New” listing. This is a quarterly publication that keeps shop owners current on new products. Checker also has a “What’s New” link on their web site which keeps owners updated daily on new products.
Sale Items to Boost Profits
Distributors offer sales throughout the year for their customers. Shop owners look forward to stocking up on sale products because it gives increased profits. Most shop owners enjoy the profits of buying promotionally priced fabric to fill in blanks in their fabric selection.
Sales Reps Visiting Shops
Sales reps are an integral part of the distributor’s relationship with storeowners. Sales reps carry samples of books, notions, patterns and fabric. Storeowners enjoy getting a “hands-on” presentation of these new products before making their purchasing decisions. Travel is expensive for the rep and the distributor but traveling reps are a vital part of our industry. They are indeed a value added attribute of utilizing distributors.
Ease of Ordering – 24/7
Checker and most distributors offer 24 hour ordering via the website, phone, fax or email. Complete catalogs offer year-round representation of products. Most shop owners are extremely busy, and do not have time to meet several sales reps. Ordering from a central resource saves an abundance of time.
Consignment Orders for Special Events
Another unique service Checker offers customers is consignment orders. For shop hops, county fair kiosks, anniversary, holiday and special sales or introducing a new product to a class, the consignment program allows the shop owner to sell the product without the risk of getting left with what doesn’t all sell out. This is truly an asset to all shop owners. Call for details.
Many distributors offer free freight on non-fabric orders that meet a certain dollar amount minimum. Checker offers free freight on books and patterns and most notions.
Distributors manage their own accounts receivables and provide customers with their own line of credit internally. Most direct company’s use outside factors to manage their credit to shops. Factors can often become an obstacle for stores. Distributor’s credit departments frequently can react much quicker to credit issues. Distributors also offer credit cards as a payment option.
Distributors are a vital part of our industry. We provide numerable value added services to Independent businesses. Utilizing distributors helps keep the shop owner informed and current with new trends and new products. On a daily basis distributors contribute to the well-being and success of independent businesses.