Page 1 The FREE centralized database serving Distributors and Suppliers of the Promotional Product Industry Issue: #002 / DCID: #1211208

JUNE 2014

What think you of CentralZone No. 2? The baby has taken its first step. enable these monthly newsletters Now it’s time to steer her in the right to highlight DC’s latest functions and direction. features. We’ll also devote space to helping distributors and suppliers Thanks to those of you connected make better use of DC’s cost- and with the DistributorCentral team time-saving technologies. after the inaugural print edition of CentralZone was published last Future content will rely heavily on month. It was reassuring to get reader response and questions positive feedback from DC users regarding DC. Don’t hesitate to about this latest enterprise to bring connect with us to suggest topics more attention to the promotional about areas of DC you’d like to products industry’s only free and know more about. Better yet, share open product database and the with us how your business uses services available within. DC to bring more attention to your products or to better ensure end As much as we all rely on webusers find the promotional items based information and the unique that best fit their needs. The more connectedness derived from social we hear, the better CentralZone can media, there’s still something about serve its readers. having a real, live newsletter to truly deliver a message. (Certainly So take that first step. Email us at the advertisers on these pages are or call aware of such value.) We’re eager to 888-516-7401. We’re ready to listen.

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June 2014 // Issue #002 // DCID: #1211208

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SUPPORT / SALES DistributorCentral 888-516-7401 Brought to you by:

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DistributorCentral is the Industry's only FREE tool for Product Placement and Distributor Search.  You control product information  ALL distributors have access to your products  One-time data entry reaches multiple service providers  Distributors get accurate contact information  Distributors order directly from you

"DC is FREE" when your focus is Product Information for Distributor Research. Suppliers! There's so much more when you GO to PRO! Move Up to PRO Starting at $399/mo.  Your products on 10,000+ distributor websites  Move products up in online search requests  We'll host your websites and child accounts  Know what's working with Google Analytics  Integrate with Facebook, Twitter, and more

 Add virtual sampling to your website  Add URLs to boost SEO Optimization  Built-in order & invoice creation  Integrate merchant accounts  We'll host your domains

"GO to PRO" when your focus is Product Information to as many buyers as possible. DistributorCentral sees nearly 2 million product searches per month across more than 10,000 distributor websites and DC's internal catalog. | 888.516.7401

Once Google has received and approved your products, it will

Boost sales with Google Product Export (Available to PRO Distributors)

DistributorCentral gives its distributors the chance to boost sales with the Google Product Export Feature. This feature exports the products from DC into a format you can add to your Google Webmaster account, thus making those products available in the Shopping section of Google.

become part of the search results when people use Google’s Product Search Tool. When visitors click on products in Google’s Product Search Results they will be directed to your website where they can purchase those products.

options they would like to offer customers. Available payment methods are: • PayPal  Real-Time Merchant Processing  Collect Info Only – (Invoice Later)

• Credit Card

 Collect Info Only – No Processing  Merchant Account  PayPal Payflow Pro Merchant Acct.

Every website that utilizes DistributorCentral’s Product Catalog will also have a shopping cart for ordering.

• Check / Money Order • Bill To Account • Purchase Order • “Will call you for payment info” • “I will call you with my payment” • Pay Later • Proof Request Only • No Charge • Commission Deduct • Bill to Department Number

The shopping cart allows for the seller to enter all the payment

The short story is, payment choices are plentiful with a DC shopping cart.

Want more detail and to learn how to enable? Visit DC’s blog at blog.

Payment options? DC has plenty

June 2014 \\ Issue #002


30 name brand product lines for executive gifts and incentives as well as the Canyon Outback line of premium Leather Goods. “A definite strong point is offering products from under a dollar to over $100 in one company,” said Menssen. “We offer a broad line but not too big to meet our commitment to service, dependability and delivery.”

Beacon Sales Manager John Geifer, left, with PPAI President Paul Bellantone and Beacon President Gary Haley.


oing from zero to 24 in ten years wouldn’t intimidate the likes of James Dean. But in the realm of promotional products, that burst of speed burns up the track. It took Beacon Promotions, Inc., a Minnesota-based supplier of promotional products, only a decade to grow from $0 to $24 million in annual sales. That accomplishment is impressive in its own right, but add to the mix a trophy case of supplier service awards, top rankings and a track record 99 percent on-time shipping and you have one Hot Rod Beacon. Beacon Promotions’ speed of growth didn’t happen with only one person behind the wheel. The company was established by 11 partners in the fall of 2003. The founding group was comprised by a diverse team – many partners who had connections to Norwood – with


June 2014 // Issue #002

between 15-30 years of experience in the promotional products industry. “The chemistry has been right,” said Sharon Menssen, Director of Marketing and one of Beacon’s founding partners. “There’s always been a lot respect for each other and for the expertise everyone brings to the table.” The diversity of talent obviously didn’t cause any slowdowns in getting the new company up and running. The purchasing of imprinting equipment and the acquisition of outside resources (10 business acquisitions to date) has resulted in Beacon now offering a broad selection of products ranging from calendars to table covers, badges, writing instruments including the SENATOR line of pens and DRIMARK Highlighters and more. Beacon now has more than

Beacon is also committed to its core sales processes, that being reliance on the supplier-distributor relationship. That Beacon regards distributors as “the sales arm of our company” gives indication to why service and fast-turnaround remains the fundamental approach to securing and keeping customers. While Beacon has adjusted with the times and uses online and digital tools to market its products, there’s still much value placed on personal connections. In addition to always having a “live person” in its Customer Service area, Beacon’s three external sales representatives call on distributors across the county and the company maintains an ongoing presence across the country by exhibiting at national, regional and distributor-hosted trade shows. Seems while Beacon knows how to put the pedal to the metal to move its line of product, there’s full awareness of who puts the fuel in the tank. The entire line of Beacon Promotions products can be found and ordered thru DistributorCentral. More info about Beacon at:


arry 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


June 2014 // Issue #002

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 distributors 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 MidAtlantic 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.

suggest to buyers the site that has my name on it.”

“It’s a progressive approach on

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.

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

“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.”

June 2014 \\ Issue #002



hen web technology-oriented service providers serving the promotional products industry team up, good things can happen. That’s the case where DistributorCentral is concerned. Recently announced collaborative relationships will enable the respective clients of the companies to benefit from improved and expanded services. DC’s newest partners serving the promotional products industry are commonsku, which hosts an integrated CRM and order management solution, and eBlox, a leading provider of highly customizable e-commerce solutions.


A strategic partnership has resulted in DistributorCentral's product database becoming part of commonsku's cloud-based CRM and Order Management solution. commonsku has linked its integrated CRM and Order Management system with the centralized product


June 2014 // Issue #002

database hosted by DC. The mutually beneficial action gives commonsku subscribers access to an expanded array of product information and resources while at the same time extends the reach of suppliers’ product information as supported by DistributorCentral.

“Distributors looking to conduct business on commonsku now have all the more cause to do so with the integration of DistributorCentral,” said Mark Graham, CEO and cofounder of commonsku. “Having additional product search options makes the commonsku platform all the more compelling.” Since 2010, commonsku has hosted a free Facebook-style newsfeed allowing both distributors and suppliers the opportunity to collaborate in real time about various issues and strategies affecting the promotional products industry. This community-oriented feature (“common”), combined with

the subscription-based product side (“sku”) of the business model results in a unique platform for users. Graham said the free and open aspect of DistributorCentral’s product database makes it a viable option to all commonsku users. “DistributorCentral is quick and responsive,” Graham said. “Since the roll-out we’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the platform’s simplified tools, not having to rekey and being able to find products based on keyword search rather than item number.” Jason Nokes, President of DistributorCentral, said the integration ensures subscribers of both commonsku and DistributorCentral will benefit as the companies continue to grow and innovate. “We have integrated two dynamic platforms that place a high priority on keeping pace with the everchanging dynamics of this industry,” Nokes said. “The importance of helping connect distributors with accurate product data as provided by suppliers cannot be overstated.”


eBlox, an experienced web technology solutions provider based in Austin, Texas, is now able to directly extract data from the centralized product database hosted by DistributorCentral. The integration is the first of its kind for both companies. According to Brent Buford, eBlox CEO, the primary advantage of the integration with DistributorCentral will be both speed and improved accuracy.

“The importance of helping connect distributors with accurate product data as provided by suppliers cannot be overstated.” “One of our biggest challenges has been getting data from suppliers in a timely manner,” said Buford. “The ability to source directly from DistributorCentral will streamline data flow with the added advantage of the data being more accurate and up to date.”

While product data is critical to eBlox’s ability to support customers, Buford said the company’s primary focus is providing customizable e-commerce solutions to the promotional products industry. Relying on DistributorCentral to access suppliers’ product information enables eBlox to concentrate on building robust e-commerce solutions for its clients. From DistributorCentral’s perspective, the integration with eBlox represents another sales channel for suppliers. Making product data available on DC enables suppliers to automatically have data available across the industry.

June 2014 \\ Issue #002


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CentralZone - June 2014