We’ve been hearing about the cloud for awhile now. But what does that mean for the promotional products industry? Our forecast is disruption! We see three big ways the cloud is turning our industry on its head.
Grabbing the Next Generation Workforce
The cloud appeals to a new generation that wants to live and work their own way. The up and comers want a customized lifestyle and the cloud makes that possible. Forget about Friday afternoon early-dismissals, the next-gen workforce want to be able to work from a park or a coffee-shop or from Paris via their smart-phone or ipad. The next gen also want to be their own boss. Look for a new wave of mobile-distributors who are happy to service a limited number of clientele from a single-proprietorship. They want to be globetrotting solo-preneurs and the cloud is making that possible. Supplier websites, gmail, texting capabilities and cloud-based enterprises are making this happen in now-time.[break][break]
Reducing Barriers to Entry
We’ve heard lots of names for them: trunkslammers, living-room distributors, and basement bargainers among them. In the days of yore, a single person could arm them self with an array of catalogs, a phone line, and a fax machine and hang out their distributorship shingle then start knocking on doors. With the cloud, it’s not even that complicated anymore. With cloud services like wordpress, tumblr, and facebook distributors can be up and running with a few clicks of a mouse (for free!) and never have to meet a client face-to-face or shell out much start-up cash. With a well-optimized website internet search will do their networking for them. Distributors could set-up shop as far away as India and deliver the same customer-service as you can from a block away.
Transparency & Savvy Customers
It’s not just the members of the promotional products industry that are changing. Our customers are also changing. They’re doing more of their own sourcing via the internet or by utilizing their social networks. More and more customers are sourcing products and looking to distributors because they’re blocked from going direct to suppliers. A quick industry search blows up the coding systems designed not to let distributor customers know how much the net product of a price is. This means that distributors are going to have to step up their game. Undercutting your competition isn’t going to cut it anymore. Customer service, problem-solving, and creativity are going to become more important as our customers become better educated; distributors will have to prove their worth in the supply chain.
How do you feel about the cloud and it’s implications for the industry? Is it all just the latest fad or will it bring about some significant change?