The ABA (general market booksellers and publishers) has long embraced the distributor as an important way to supply books to the bookstore market. Some of the leading players in this sector include Publisher Group West (PGW), National Book Network (NBN), and MidPoint. Publishers large and small are using these ‘consolidators’ to sell and distribute their books.
Consolidation can eliminate overhead
This phenomenon is increasing for three reasons:
- Retailers want to use fewer vendors, not more.
- Retailers are free to spend more time with their own customers rather than more time receiving product, paying invoices, and processing returns.
- Publishers can consolidate their sales and distribution to drive costs from their own supply chain management.
The CBA (Christian market booksellers and publishers) has been slower to see the benefits of the distributor as a long-term solution although there have been spurts of activity in the past. In more recent years Send The Light/Advocate Distribution Solutions has become an important vendor of this supply chain solution.
Wholesale replenishment business is key to a healthy retail business. Leonard Shatzkin, in his excellent book, The Mathematics of Bookselling (Sun River Press), shares his own research of booksellers who buy into the wholesale replenishment model and see their turns go from two or three times to six or more times per year. The result is a healthier business with more choices for customers, more staff time devoted to helping the customer find what they want/need, and more cash flow.
Shatzkin spends considerable time talking about the importance of inventory and the importance of measuring how quickly a store can turn the inventory dollars on the shelves into cash flow for increased investment opportunities. He says that inventory in the average store represents more than 65% of the store’s investment, or more than four times more than any other investment a store makes. It makes sense to maximize the turns by using the supply chain to do so.
The new paradigm combines wholesale replenishment with publisher distribution. This concept brings the best of both worlds to retail – selection, speed and service – along with discounts and freight options, all combined in an easy, one-source solution. Retailers can conveniently place one order with one supplier, receive one shipment and one invoice, and are provide one address for returns. Retailers can order many types of products including products from the largest publishers in the industry at competitive wholesale discounts along with some products at publisher discounts, while always receiving the maximum discount by publisher or manufacturer. Finally, the entire order combines to give the retailer the best deal on freight and payment terms.
Send The Light (STL) Distribution offers both the wholesale model and the distributor model in one-source to retailers. Some distributors offer only a handful of publishers in one box, which doesn’t allow booksellers to conduct supply-chain management across the wide range of products they need to source. In addition, other wholesalers offer order consolidation, but don’t offer replenishment on the wide range of product that retailers need (i.e., gifts, remainders, homeschool products, etc.). And most wholesalers will go to great lengths to match discounts offered by other wholesalers.
In the end, the difference will be the best combination of selection, service and speed. For authors and publishers, this is an important part of the supply chain management strategy that needs to be deployed to help booksellers be more profitable with your books.