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Rating My Four Key Suppliers

Allow me to say at the outset, this is entirely subjective. Your experience may be different, and if it is, feel free to respond in the comments section.

Order Turnaround

  1. Word Alive (especially considering the U.S. origin)
  2. Parasource (I hate abusing the rush service, but it really helps and they never ask questions)
  3. Foundation (some orders take several days to process, but if we really need it rushed, they come through)
  4. HarperCollins (a factor of geography more than anything)

Conversion on U.S. Dollar

  1. HarperCollins (as low as 1.25 on some items right now)
  2. Parasource (especially w/ respect to Baker/Bethany House)
  3. Foundation
  4. Word Alive

Everyday Discounts or Help With Special Orders

  1. HarperCollins (but we buy non-returnable)
  2. Parasource (always willing to work with us, even when the church is asking us for help but they’re order isn’t exactly huge)
  3. Word Alive (at least with respect to special Canadian pricing on selected items)
  4. Foundation

Invoicing and Statements

  1. Foundation (consolidation of orders on a single invoice just makes sense)
  2. Parasource (2nd, but see next category)
  3. HarperCollins (separate packing lists and statements are a bit of an environmental disaster; not to mention the postage mailing the invoices from Pennsylvania)
  4. Word Alive (impossible to figure out sometimes)

Online Accounting

  1. Parasource (it urgently needs an upgrade on the search side, but it’s the best we have for this category;  the online statements and invoices make it a clear #1)
  2. we don’t use this function from other suppliers if such exists

Fill Rates

  1. HarperCollins (a bit of a no-brainer since the warehouse and the printer are one)
  2. Parasource (impressive considering the learning curve since the Augsburg acquisition)
  3. Word Alive (rated 3rd because the database is so limited; too many “extended catalog” items)
  4. Foundation (running just a tad too lean for our liking)

Condition of Merchandise; Accuracy of Picking

  1. Parasource, Foundation, Word Alive all tied (computers eliminate errors in the pick/check/pack/ship process)
  2. HarperCollins (you never know what you’ll find inside the box)

Special Discount Offers

  1. Foundation (telesales; at least one email per day, but they all get opened)
  2. Parasource (the current restock offer is an example of deals which are equitable for all accounts)
  3. HarperCollins (those quarterly extra 3% offers have low minimums and can be split among many orders)
  4. Word Alive (none offered)

Product Line Awareness

  1. HarperCollins (for stores like ours, they have 3 lines – HarperOne, Zondervan and Nelson – it’s always been the same; plus we always get a complete sales presentation for each cycle)
  2. Parasource (didn’t hear about Destiny Image, and the gift lines come and go, but overall we know their product range; really miss print catalogues, though)
  3. Foundation (a basic core list of publishers is represented but there’s also a rotating list of extras including overstock from Book Depot which often duplicates HarperCollins titles; new release order forms are often lacking author info)
  4. Word Alive (this rating could change as their new online “New Releases” section has been fixed and is now working properly)

Website/Social Media Marketing Support

  • This category includes HTML support for Facebook and store home pages. Everything we receive we get from the Twitter feeds of the individual publishers; not from the Canadian distributors

Blog Support

  • We sometimes link my personal blog in our customer newsletters, social media or even the website. The number one thing we’re looking for is book excerpts we can quote or link to. Very difficult to find however when it comes to review copies for the blog or sample copies for the store:
  1. Parasource and Harper Collins tied for # 1. (Both companies always willing to provide review copies for the blog if requested; and those manuscript editions are great collector’s items and make us feel special… In 17 years I’ve only ever received three things from Foundation, the book How to Smell Like God which I didn’t read, a used copy of The Gospel of John board game, and a defective copy of the ESV Study Bible which I received basically because I heard everybody was getting one and I shamelessly begged)

Doesn’t Market to Our Church Customers

  1. Word Alive (at least not to our knowledge; Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, maybe)
  2. HarperCollins (true they’re part of Your Church Zone and have that Church Source program but we’re not seeing much direct impact)
  3. Parasource (only rated 3rd here because I know this is a major issue for other stores where they’re concerned)
  4. Foundation (in the past they would refer VBS and curriculum inquiries to the nearest stores including ours, but they kinda invade our territory every summer when they do a 6-week book shop at the Pentecostal Camp that totally misses what that market requires.)

Sales Reps

  1. For us, a total tie for #1 between Mark Hildebrand at HarperCollins and Norm Robertson at Parasource; each of whom I would happily call friends (and they’re listed that way only because it’s alphabetical!)



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