Media Center


Media Center

Any time BuyOnlineNow makes the news, be it for reaching noteworthy sales goals, publicizing big promotions, adding new product lines or for many other reasons, we'll keep a copy of the new article here in our media center. This is not just to "toot our own horn," but to show our customers that we are an office supply dealer that can be trusted to always be growing in all the right directions.
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BuyOnlineNow tops US productivity league

7/25/2008 - The high ticket…
high growth performer
The rapidly emerging search marketer
and original brand champion
 
25 Jul 08
What is it with the State of Minnesota and leading US companies? There are 19 Fortune 500 companies there including retail leaders Best Buy and Target. In the fast growth health sector Medtronic, United Health and Ecolab and financial powerhouses Ameriprise, Travelers and US Bancorp. In OP manufacturing the mighty 3M and Smead. In OP superdealer community S&T Office, Innovative Office Solutions , Bertelsons…and now BuyOnlineNow.

BuyOnlineNow.com (BON) exploded onto the scene this year. Until recently many of the OP industry's leading manufacturers were not aware of the pure internet player from Rochester (MN) that relied primarily on the wholesale services of United Stationers and SPRichards. That is about to change BIG time as they realize what a powerful OEM brand ally they can now partner with…when all the market talk has been about own brand.
 
BON came to my notice this year when I read a profile in Simon De Groot's Independent Dealer ezine. I was impressed with their rapid growth and wanted to find out more. Bob Herman (pic above) is the CEO, an ex-technology professional who started the business back in 2000. His inspiration was the legendary Irwin Helford and he wanted to create a special company with the same degree of marketing prowess he interpreted from Viking's huge success in direct marketing.
 
BON recorded sales of $18M in 2007 and this year is on course to achieve $30m…up a massive 66%. Sales per employee the basic productivity measure (including an add back adjustment for truck drivers) is $578,000…the best we have recorded in the USA. So how do they do it? What makes them different? What are their measures of success?
 
The first thing I was struck by in speaking with Bob over the telephone, was his grasp of the numbers; his strong sense of customer orientation and making it easy for them to 'buy online now'. In other words to make the 'browse and buy' web experience as simple as possible.
 
A power of a specialist
BON has 50,000 active customers with furniture unusually 43%/sales, equipment 14%/sales and office supplies relatively low at 35%. New areas of development include breakroom and jan-san supplies which has risen rapidly to 8%/sales.

This specialist reputation is growing and being rewarded in BON's high average order values (AOV's). The AOV's of most  internet OP resellers is in the region $100-$150. BON' AOV is $200+ reflecting the higher ticket merchandise. Interestingly, a quarter of customers place orders via telephone, and here customers spend an AOV of $500+. Moreover, repeat customers…2 orders plus who represented a third of total sales placed AOV's of $1100.
 
This is a great endorsement for the power of the human touch on high ticket items. Taking a leaf out of the irwin's 'personalization' playbook, even though you don't meet the customer face-to-face, create the next best thing via an easy 'personal' touch via the experience on the telephone or the web.   

BON partners with some of the great brand names of our industry. These include: HON, 3M, Fellowes, Global, Safco, Acco Brands and Avery. Interestingly, it also supports innovative manufacturers who may not be getting enough market exposure e.g. Lion Office Products. There are up to 20 manufacturing partners at the moment and this is expected to rise rapidly now that they realize that Bob is indeed an original brand champion.
 
In fact, commodity products, like paper and ink cartridges, are only a small percentage of overall sales with the clear focus on being a specialist office solutions source rather than a regular OP reseller.
 
The business philosophy is simple. Create an easy, simple 'browse and buy' experience that 'you would wish to enjoy yourself'. No distractions, no switch sells, no accessories…just make it easy to find what the shopper is looking for, with the proper supporting information in user friendly language to reassure the shopper…and then speed to the check out. Pricing is positioned competitively.

Technology edge
BON's key market differential is facilitated by a fast and highly functional webstore design. Bob employs a team of 9 IT developers to ensure that he maintains this cutting edge. This is a key advantage which we feel will be progressively realized as they continuously upgrade the user experience going forward.
 
BON has made rapid strides with its highly focused specialist model and plans for this to continue at the same rapid pace. Bob is targeting $100m by 2011…even a supreme optimist like me will be impressed, but not surprised if he pulls it off.

When we discussed key measures of the BON business Average Order Value and customer service reliability were paramount in Bob's mind. They track execution from acknowledgment to dispatch to delivery keeping customer informed at each stage. At the webstore browsers can see straight away the 5 Star Customer Rating Service continuously updated rates BON an impressive 4.8/5.
 
***Manufacturers pay attention…tap into your new brand champion, but make sure your end user marketing message resonates and captures the imagination of users. Too many ads fail to entice, engage or are simply not memorable…the important link from airport poster ad to web browsing.

Article reprinted with permission from Proficiency Post.