Five Kinds of Direct Sales Relationships for Book Publishers

Publishers entering the direct-to-consumer retail game have more options now than ever for how to do it. That’s largely thanks to a diverse market of vendors offering an even more diverse set of services to publishers.

Sameer Shariff, founder and CEO of Impelsys Inc., Ted Hill, president of THA Consulting, Doug Lessing, President of Firebrand Technologies, Micah Bowers, Founder and CEO of Bluefire Productions and Marc Boutet, co-founder and CEO of DeMarque, spoke this afternoon at Digital Book World 2014 in New York about those services and the ways their clients are utilizing them for direct retail.

Here are a few of the more popular ones:

Platform building, maintenance and support. “Just dream,” Shariff said. “From a technology perspective we will take care of it.”

End-to-end e-commerce ecosystem. Digital allows direct interaction with customers, but as Bowers point out, some publishers want to engage with customers, but others don’t. Vendors can step in and build comprehensive systems from browsing to checkout to fulfillment.

A la carte retail services and functions. ““A fully comprehensive website is absolutely six figures on up,” Lessing acknowledged. Many of Firebrand’s clients, he said, work with the vendor to pick which roles to outsource and how to integrate them seamlessly with the publisher’s existing systems.

Deluxe customer experience and customer service. Boutet said that DeMarc aims to produce a “concierge”-like experience for customers as well as its publisher clients. Some publishers are investing in those services to supplement digital retail platforms.

Shaping e-commerce strategies based on consumer behavior. “Analytics is valuable,” Bowers said, but learning and adapting is also important. Vendors like Bluefire can help publishers do both, then tailor e-commerce systems and services that respond to customers’ needs. Lessing said one client was surprised to find its customers asking to buy in bulk, so they experimented successfully with a new model to allow for that.

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