MeritDirect Event Panel Heading Back to the Future, Part 3
Hopefully, you’ve been keeping up with our coverage of a no-holds-barred, all-telling session during MeritDirect’s recent Business Mailers Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., in which four B-to-B mailers discussed how they’re surviving the current economic malaise and their plans for emerging from it once the economy turns around.
Here are further key details from that session, led by moderator Terry Jukes, president of e-commerce software provider Ability Commerce and All About ROI On the Web columnist.
The panelists included Bob Runke, president of Barco Products Co.; Mike Faith, CEO/president of Headsets.com, and a member of the All About ROI editorial advisory board; Neil Sexton, president/COO of Northern Safety; and Dick Nelson, CEO of MARCO Promotional Products.
Q: With retailing being so down this year, what opportunities [as B-to-B catalogers] do you see?
Sexton: We have no plans of getting into any vacated retail stores. But it’s an interesting notion that maybe people who used to get their stuff at point A now could get it from point B. We’re interested in increasing our touches.
Runke: I'd never make a run at a brick-and-mortar facility. We’re looking at how we can maintain margins. The types of products we sell are commercial in nature, but they’re expensive. The retail market doesn’t react well to that.
We have a segment of orders that come in from consumers, but not that much. We have better discussions with our suppliers to find out what their true capabilities are, and specifically aimed at commercial clients. There's some demand for something less than good at a cheaper price point than retail can react to. But we’re going to be a two- or three-channel marketer, with the catalog driving the bus. And outbound telemarketing can work for that.