Every now and then a blog post I do gets people talking. That’s always fun, and the ideas that bubble up are often fresh and useful.
Irwin Krimke, whose work with Backwoodsman magazine has been very successful, contacted me to say that I neglected, in my reporting of a recent conversation with him, to give appropriate credit to the wholesalers with whom he’s been partnering, and especially to Kable News Company, which has worked to grow his client publication over 600 percent since they took it over. Hats off to everyone involved in this great success story!
From a reader responding to the notion that the conversation has become too negative: Does anyone seriously believe that retailers do not notice how their sales are down? Please. What would be really strange is if we as an industry didn’t address these issues.
Ideas and suggestions have also been pouring in about Plan B. Many have to do with eliminating one layer from the distribution process—either the national distributor or the national wholesaler network. Suggestions center around setting up direct-style distribution, drop-shipping from distribution hubs, and eliminating merchandising or doing it on a fee-for-service basis. Here is a sampling:
• From a former direct distributor: "Based on the free market system, if this system collapses another will arise to take its place. Currently I am working with India-based businesses on outsourcing solutions for data analysis that might prove useful to publishers and distributors."
• From a newsstand consultant: "Wholesalers are clear they cannot stay in business without more money; publishers are clear they cannot provide more money. If we don’t listen we are perpetuating a vicious cycle. What if the printers were to develop tie lines for the pick and pack and drop ship direct to retailers? Wholesalers could reduce their business to merchandising on a fee-for-service basis; national distributors can bill and collect the retailers on behalf of the publishers. It takes a step and several costs out of the process."
• From a group publisher: "Set up the tie lines/distribution hubs at the Clark (or other trucker) warehouses and ship direct from there. Retailers take back merchandising responsibility."
• From an independent publisher: "Work with the major retailers to truck to their distribution centers and ship from there."
• From a national distributor executive: "Use a system already in place to swing to direct distribution."
Are any of these plans strong candidates for Plan B? What do you think?