5 Smart Ways Distributors Are Increasing Sales in a Tough Economy

While the COVID crisis of 2020 seems like a problem of the past for many industries, the reality for many promo distributors – especially those under the $1 million threshold – is that they’re still trying to recover.  And with the current economic climate, it’s increasingly challenging for smaller distributors to forge ahead. 

The key for the most successful distributors is that they’re working smarter, not harder, to gain momentum and get back on track. These are the top 5 ways distributors are competing in this market. 

1. Including online stores in all their pitches 

According to PPAI, in 2021, 33% of distributor revenue* came from online stores. For distributors that are below the 33% average or for those who haven’t tapped into the webstore market at all yet, there’s a huge opportunity. And now that webstore technology is so easy to use, even the least tech-savvy distributors can create branded stores in minutes, so introducing stores into your product offering is easier than it sounds.  

Unsure how to get started? We recommend sharing example stores with your clients to sell them on the vision, then pitch every single client you talk to.  Unsure how to start marketing and selling stores?  Here are some of our favorite resources to get started! 

2. Watching the retail industry like a hawk  

If you ain’t first…you’re last 😉 And the only way to pitch new products to your clients before your competitors is to proactively seek out trends in the retail world and think about how they’ll impact your clients. Pulling creative trends in from the retail world will show your clients you’re ahead of the curve and always have the latest and greatest offerings. 

Unsure how to spot these trends? Network with your supplier colleagues often to learn about new and upcoming products they expect to sell fast. If you’re looking to form more supplier relationships, you can join Commercio Orders free and connect with top suppliers to get ahead of the curve. 

3. Searching for the best supplier pricing 

How many open tabs does it take to find the best price and product for your client? From what we’ve heard, it’s 10+ 😉. People pleasers at heart, distributors will do almost anything it takes to find the right product at the best price for clients.  And that’s not a bad thing!  Your clients can feel the amount of effort and passion that goes into your pitches. 

But the level of service you could provide your clients if you didn’t have to log in and search suppliers tab by tab for the right products is significant.  If you haven’t yet, you should look into free sourcing products built for distributors that will give you hours back on each of your sourcing projects. 

>> Want to get up to 15% off supplier POs? Sign up for Commercio Orders free and get started ASAP. 

4. Auditing technology for unnecessary expenses 

When was the last time you audited your technology to make sure it was worth the cost? If you’re too busy to use half the features included in one of your technology subscriptions, it’s likely too expensive.  So many distributors start their company and use the first technology recommended to them.  Does that technology still serve your business in a way that’s worth the cost? 

On the other side of the coin, is there promotional product technology that you didn’t invest in previously, that would save you enough time to warrant the cost? 

5. Removing monotonous work from their daily to-dos  

Are you spending more than 15 minutes a day on manual data entry like copying info from spreadsheets into other systems, stapling and filing paperwork, or editing PDF quotes to send updated versions to clients?  Every minute distributors spend on tasks that can easily be automated with technology is a minute they aren’t connecting with their clients, pitching to prospects, or mining referrals from happy customers. 

Distributors operating in this competitive market know that time is money and are taking steps to swap time-intensive monotonous activities with profit producing activities


Increasing profits in a challenging economy doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire business. The most successful distributors are making incremental shifts in their existing operations to spend their time on the most profitable activities.