Here We Go Again...
In recent news it was announced that supplier BEL Promo acquired an online distributor company, Branders.com. It is public knowledge that BEL Promo also operates Discount Mugs, a "distributor" company that sells mugs and all kinds of promotional products to end-users at very low net pricing.
The reality is that prospects and our customers look online for stuff. Discount Mugs and their lowball pricing rise to the top of many search engines. I've encountered Discount Mugs' aggressive prices, but for the most part have been able to navigate around them. It's a challenge and I understand why distributors are frustrated.
BEL Promo is upfront about their business model and distributors can choose to do business with them or not. There are many supplier companies that do the same thing, they just are not as well known.
I'm not as troubled with supplier companies who operate two distinct operations. One as a supplier selling at net pricing to distributors and another business selling at higher retail type pricing. A supplier selling direct clearly has a price advantage. In addition, there is a concern that suppliers who have a distributor side will take information provided by other distributors to their supplier side and steal the client. That's happened.
A while ago one frustrated person created a website dedicate to exposing these suppliers. The promotion for this site went like this: We're exposing the crappy suppliers in the industry and giving mad props to the ethical ones. Be sure to visit ShadySuppliers.com to stay in the loop! We covered in this our article: Do We Need a Website Like This?
The website landing page stated: Some suppliers are cutting your throat by selling direct, and even contacting your customers after you send in an order! Find out who they are! The Shady Suppliers tag line is: "Taking your customers, like a thief in the night." The site never gained any traction.