New Report Provides Insights into Paper Merchant Channel Trends
Paper merchants are a critical link in the distribution of paper, positioned as one of the top non-direct channels for offset paper as well as a key channel for office and digital cut size paper. While clearly a very important channel, paper merchants are not immune to market shifts and factors such as a weak economy, changes in buyer behaviors, competition, and consolidation are changing channel dynamics. To understand how these factors are impacting the channel, InfoTrends has released a new study entitled Paper Merchant Survey 2011.
“Although, it is declining in share, paper merchants remain the largest channel to receive shipments directly from the paper mills,” commented Cathy Martin a Senior Consultant at InfoTrends. “Merchants are a critical link between the mills and the end customer. Paper Mills and paper vendors should pay close attention to changes within this channel and respond with programs and support to keep paper merchants prosperous.”
A key trend that was revealed from the survey results was a push by merchants into new areas of business - a strategy to remain competitive. Many merchants are branching into offering ink & toner, packaging, and janitorial supplies as a way to stay profitable, secure new customers, and maintain their loyalty base. Paper vendors can help and support merchants with these endeavors by setting it up for them where appropriate, or putting them in contact with vendors that offer these types of products.
Paper mills and other vendors can also help merchants be more responsive. As orders get smaller and markets shrink, the merchants need to keep their trucks running efficiently and are, therefore, seeking ways to run leaner and smarter. For instance, some merchants report that they can get better prices on printing grades from brokers and converters than from the mills.
Lastly, mills need to help merchants with digital papers and sizes. This appears to be an area of potential growth for the merchants, but they will need the support and training from the mills to move forward in this area.
InfoTrends’ report entitled Paper Merchant Survey 2011 is a comprehensive review of the paper merchant channel. The report surveys paper merchants for their perspectives and insight on a variety of topics including customer behavior, product selection, and services. The report also includes profiles of major merchants and paper merchant stores.