ADVEO Show Review: A catalogue of success

For ADVEO Germany, the printed catalogue is still the key selling tool

The hardback version of ADVEO Germany’s annual catalogue is a highly sought-after item judging by the rush of dealers trying to get their hands on one at the end of the 2015 catalogue presentation made by Ulrich Paulus, Director of Marketing and Merchandising at the German wholesaler.

Any talk of the death of the office products catalogue is certainly premature, at least in Germany where, Paulus revealed, 75% of ADVEO’s dealer orders are still placed using the printed catalogue. That was one of the interesting figures thrown up by ADVEO’s latest end-user market research. Astonishingly, about 50% of customers still use the fax order form that is printed in the catalogue, while only around 10% of orders made are purely electronic from start to finish.

Steady SKUs

Those numbers are changing, of course, as millennials increasingly take on positions of responsibility in the workplace but, Paulus added, ADVEO’s research was conducted across a broad range of age groups, suggesting that catalogues still have a few years’ life left in them yet.

Consequently, ADVEO Germany is printing 250,000 catalogues in 2015 – the same as last year – featuring around 20,000 SKUs. The overall SKU figure is also steady, but some traditional products have made way for newer, growing categories such as facilities management (FM) supplies and 3D printing (see box, ‘3D printing set to take off’).

Paulus added that the end-user research also revealed some important data about what customers want from dealers. The top three reasons that customers use dealers are: high service levels; having a named contact person at the dealer; and product knowledge.

“They don’t use dealers because they see them as having the best price,” he noted. “It’s important for dealers to realise that, because sometimes they can be too focused on price.”

The catalogue presentation was made on the second day of the ADVEO World Convention, the annual gathering of ADVEO’s dealer customers in Germany which took place at the Olympic Park in Munich at the beginning of December. About 1,000 visitors attended the Convention which featured a vendor expo with almost 90 suppliers.

The vendors that OPI spoke to were generally happy with the turnout, although some noted a decline in visitor numbers compared with previous years, and there were some question marks about the need for a two-day expo.

“This is a good opportunity for us to have direct contact with the smaller dealers that we don’t normally see,” Falk Butterwegge, Head of Office Supply/Stationery & Online International Sales Consumer & Craftsmen at tesa, told OPI.

Butterwegge explained that tesa was using its market-leading position in the DIY channel to introduce new products for B2B resellers as they offer more FM products. “To a certain extent, we can copy and paste that DIY success story into the dealer channel,” he added.

The Germany-based vendor has been running a major campaign for its double-sided adhesive tape for use at home and in the office. “More and more offices are for rent only, so you are not allowed to drill into the walls,” Butterwegge continued. “That means dealers can offer solutions using our adhesive tape.”

Bi-silque’s Key Account Manager Alina Chaberska Da Costa also noted the need to find new niche markets to drive growth. “While the overall viscom market is stable, there are interesting growth opportunities with, for example, eco-friendly products which go down well with German customers,” she said.

She also pointed to the need to adapt product and service offerings to the needs of specific dealers. “For online dealers, delivery is a key factor, while an education-focused dealer will require an educational range that meets national certification requirements.”

Connecting with end users

Markus Eppensteiner, Sales Manager, Commercial & MMR at Avery Zweckform, revealed that the  labels manufacturer is placing a lot of emphasis on e-commerce and social media to connect dealers with end users.

“We are trying to attract a younger generation through things like our recently launched Facebook account,” he said, adding that the company was also trying to tap into the general consumer market with its Avery Living concept (which is known as Avery Home in markets such as the UK).

“We are also trying to help dealers improve their online shops,” he continued. “Like everyone, we are seeing the shift to online; it will be the purchasing channel for the younger generation, so we are providing our resellers with resources like banners and video and other online content.”

Preceding the Convention was the ADVEO Congress, a one-day invitation-only event for about 180 key trade partners. Held at the Allianz Arena, this featured a keynote presentation on the future of business and a talk by Stefan Kuntz, Chairman of the Kaiserslautern football club, who described how the football industry has had to adapt to the enormous changes that have taken place in the past 25 years – with a clear message to the OP world about the need to embrace and adapt to change.

3D printing set to take off

There was a real buzz at the ADVEO World Germany event surrounding the catalogue launch of the wholesaler’s 3D print offering.

UK firm Environmental Business Products (EBP) has been awarded a pan-European contract by ADVEO for its St3Di 3D printing brand, and owner Aleem Hosein and his team were rushed off their feet throughout the two-day expo in Munich.

EBP is offering two 3D printer models, the 200 and 280 (the numbers refer to the width of the printing plate), which have a recommended retail price of around H1,400 and H2,000 ($1,660 and $2,370) respectively, excluding sales tax. Hosein said that dealer margins for the printers and for the range of filament supplies that go with them are likely to be very appealing.

Dealers have the option of transactional selling (selling customers the machines and supplies) or offering a 3D printing service. Amy Horn, EBP’s Head of Collections, told OPI that most dealers were more interested in the first option as it was an “easier sell”. Service selling, on the other hand, requires more of an investment in systems and expertise.

Given the strong interest from dealers, it looks like 3D printing could really take off as a new category for the office reseller channel in 2015. EBP was also in Paris in January at the ADVEO World France event and was expected to be making a major announcement for the UK market just after this issue of OPI went to press.