Zondervan Has Nothing to Offer Canadian Retailers
It’s probably just as well that presently, people in Canada aren’t lining up to open new stores, because they would probably be completely bewildered by the varying policies and procedures on the Canadian distributor landscape.
But if I were to advise a prospective retailer on what to include and what to leave out, I would be very tempted to tell them to forget about the product line which is coincidentally also my favorite publisher imprint, Zondervan.
I say that because I was thinking the other day of all the things I simply cannot do with Zondervan’s present arrangement with HarperCollins Canada.
- First, in not using the Book Manager platform, I cannot order online. Admittedly the David C. Cook b2b website — while not perfect — has dealers in this country completely spoiled, but there’s nothing even close.
- Second, I can’t really perform any online look-up of products for customers and have any confidence in the results. The search at HarperCollins Canada is not intuitive, nor does it contain Zondervan ITPEs (international trade paper editions). I have to use a 2nd party website, capture the ISBN, and then check Book Manager’s open website to determine availability.
- Third, I can’t get most titles in a timely way. Zondervan is a vast product line, and Canada is a smaller country than the U.S., but there’s not even one copy of most titles on a shelf in the Scarborough (Toronto) warehouse. It seems like everything is ITO (import-to-order) which means a 2 – 3 week wait in a world where everything else media-related is moving at light speed.
- Fourth, even if I can access the product from the warehouse right away, I have to conform to the “ship days” schedule. That means a customer who arrives at 4:35 PM on a Wednesday (after the phone lines are closed for the day) has to wait until the following Friday, nine business days and eleven calendar days later before seeing their product. It’s worse for stores out west, and made even more worse there with the 4:25 phone cutoff being only 1:25 Pacific Time. Again, this at a world where media customers want and expect it yesterday.
- When it’s all said and done, I can’t even pay my monthly invoice using the same protocols I use with other sources. HarperCollins Canada is actually the only regular supplier I pay by cheque anymore; and because they use a “lock box” system, there is great variance as to how quickly those cheques process through.
Having said all that, in the general market HarperCollins Canada is frequently awarded “Supplier of the Year.”
I shudder to think what the other suppliers are like. Item four, above, is something that Collins is committed to here in Canada, though I would have no problem with minimum orders for immediate release.
Items one, two, three and five however could be fixed within a week, if anyone had the inclination.