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Distributors keep packaging 'personal'

Distributors of packaging products have proven their value to companies that purchase packaging equipment and materials, according to a recent survey of Packaging World readers.

Only 6% of survey respondents claimed their companies

didn’t buy packaging products through distributors.

The survey conducted by Frambach & Co. (Milford NH) involved readers with titles in production and engineering at food beverage medical and household products companies. Nine of ten respondents said their companies buy both direct from manufacturers and through distributors.

Some 48% of respondents indicated their companies evenly split purchases of packaging products between buying direct and through distributors. Another 10% say about 25% of company purchases are through distributors.

When readers were asked why their companies do business with distributors nearly a quarter said because that’s “the system” or “certain products were only available through them.” Another 22% said distributors respond more quickly and nearly 18% said their primary reason was because distributors offer better service. Of the readers whose companies buy only direct twice as many do so for price reasons than for service.

Survey respondents were asked about supplier attributes and whether manufacturers or distributors do a better job. Direct manufacturers scored highest in having trained sales people and field engineers and in meeting delivery dates while distributors were cited for more frequent sales calls having a full range of products and being more reliable.

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Participants were asked to select the top factors in making packaging purchases. Reliability ranked highest followed by service and price. Other factors included lifespan and innovation.

The survey asked which attributes or qualities make distributors valuable to packaging buyers. Quick and attentive response was mentioned by 26% while accessibility/availability was noted by 18%. A number of attributes like reliability better knowledge of customer’s application and having parts in stock all logged about 12% of responses.

Finally respondents were asked about the ways distributors can help them better than a manufacturer’s sales person. Being more committed to service was cited by 38% while another 24% said availability and quicker parts delivery. Another 22% said that distributors offer a customer a broader view of manufacturers and 8% of survey respondents noted that distributors better understand the customers’ business.

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