Superior technology keeps village in the game
When Rob Mallin talks office products, the smart money listens. As president of Somerset, NJ-based Village Office Supply, Mallin—with business partner Jim Entwistle—spearheaded an effort that took a retail Hallmark card store and transformed it into a regional office products powerhouse.
Along the way, Mallin developed a business model that combines a fierce focus on the customer, disciplined cost control and innovative use of technology at virtually every level of the business. This business model created a value proposition strong enough to take Village from virtually zero to $60 million in just 20, fast-moving years.
Technology is vital to remain competitive in today's marketplace
As Mallin looks at the challenges facing today’s office products dealer, he zeroes in on one critical area: “There’s no way dealers can market their businesses the way they did 10 or even just five years ago,” he contends. “The focus today has got to be on the complete technological consumer experience. Price is always going to be a factor, but more and more, it’s about creating customer intimacy and providing the same kind of online shopping experience that your customers are used to from the likes of Amazon.”
That’s why, Mallin explains, Village converted all its customers to the ECinteractivePLUS Web storefront. “I give all the credit in the world to ECi and to S.P. Richards for what they have done with ECinteractivePLUS,” he says.
“The investments they have made in new search capabilities, product positioning and enhanced back-end administration have paid off big time. ECinteractivePLUS is just a superior product that has generated an overwhelming response from our customers. They see it as a technologically current solution that gives them the same features and functionality they find with the online leaders in the retail world.”
ECinteractivePLUS is just one element—albeit a critical one—of the technology resources Mallin and his team bring to bear at Village. “Over the past few years, we have made a major investment in technology to draw out every bit of operating efficiency from the back office of ECi and maximize the value of every single customer we have,” Mallin reports.
Business intelligence and social media are part of the recipe for success
The Acsellerate sales analytics program has provided new insights on customer behavior and identified opportunities to grow sales and profits from existing customers that would otherwise have remained hidden.
And an ambitious new social media initiative is set to give Village a strong presence in the increasingly important world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress.
“The technology tools that are available to the dealer community today are truly outstanding,” says Mallin. “We’ve got the ECi backend system, ECinteractivePLUS, Acsellerate, GoldMine and the MyAnalyst program from S.P. Richards and together, they’re putting us back in the game and keeping us there. And that doesn’t just apply to Village but to the dealer community in general,” he contends.
“If you’re serious about long-term survival and prosperity as a dealer today, you have to be willing to make an investment in technology,” says Mallin. “And with partners like ECi and S.P. Richards, you can be confident that investment will give you the kind of customer intimacy and insight into your business that we all need to stay competitive.”