From chocolate, stuffed animals and Christmas ornaments, to snow plow services and road salt, goods and services posted this year on Ariba Discovery auger well for a robust holiday shopping season. Not to forget those buyers in search of 150 frozen turkeys, aluminum foil, and perhaps for vegans, $50,000 worth of protein powder.
Just like consumers, savvy business buyers are on the hunt for the best deals on items that top holiday shopping lists. This year NRF expects 2015 sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) to increase 3.7 percent totaling $630.5 billion — exceeding the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Online sales on Cyber Monday in the United States alone are predicted to reach $3 billion for the first time.
To take advantage of what could be a banner profitable year, many companies have already turned to Ariba Discovery, where they can immediately connect with nearly two million global sellers able to help them stock their shelves with the right products in time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.
I recently talked with Robert Rosenthal, Chairman and CEO of New York-based JP Promotional Products, (pictured above with Shari Pulver, President), to find out how the holiday shopping season is going. His company sells a full line of imprinted promotional products that companies use to gift clients and employees. Rosenthal said Ariba Discovery has provided his organization with unprecedented access to customers of all sizes, extending sales from local insurance, real estate and other businesses to larger corporations like Lockheed Martin.
Electronics top this year’s popular high-end items, including Beats (headphones) by Dr. Dre, small but powerful Bluetooth speakers, thumb drives and power banks. According to Rosenthal, clothing is a perennial best-seller, including a recent custom order from Paramount Pictures for children’s mittens embroidered with the company’s distinctive branded letter P. Of course, there are always celebratory products like engraved champagne glasses for holiday parties.
“Since we joined Ariba, we’ve been able to expand our reach into bigger companies nationwide,” said Rosenthal. “There’s no way we could sell to a company like Paramount Pictures without Ariba Discovery. By yearend, we’ll probably pick up around a quarter of million dollars in sales, which is huge for our small business. It’s from a variety of companies, including the Fortune 100.”
What’s just as interesting is how Ariba Discovery supports what Rosenthal called a high touch, creative business model in an increasingly commoditized, global market.
“There are 22,000 distributors in this industry and most are very small. Everyone can get the same products but what differentiates us is our high touch service. We go above and beyond with service, often telling a customer the product has arrived in the shipping room before they even know it because we track everything so closely. We also focus on being very creative to source and design the products people need.”
Rob Mihalko, Vice President of Ariba Network Marketing isn’t surprised at Rosenthal’s experiences. “Ariba Discovery is the largest community of its kind, and companies tap into this service because it responds to market demand signals quickly. Buyers need to find the best providers for a variety of reasons. They may be expanding and looking for new offerings, or trying to quickly meet upticks in demand during peak times like the holidays. They may be having quality problems with existing suppliers. This is a quick and easy way to access suppliers able to source literally anything.”
While profitable seasons are never are sure thing, buyers and sellers on Ariba Discovery appear to have an advantage from the start. Happy Holidays!
Follow me @smgaler