Distributor Profile: Just In Time
Petra Industries is one of the top distributors in the country, with 26 years of experience serving more than 36,000 installers, integrators, retailers and e-tailers across the country. CustomRetailer sat down with president/CEO, Bill Stewart, to learn how the company is helping dealers add to their bottom lines with accessories and more.
CustomRetailer: As one of the top distributors in the country, what is the largest benefit of joining Petra for dealers?
Bill Stewart: There are a lot of benefits to partnering with Petra. We are a very customer-driven, solution-oriented company so we are constantly trying to find ways to benefit our dealers. We have more than 20,000 products from more than 500 manufacturers at very competitive prices. In fact, we guarantee to beat any competitors' advertised price. We also offer same-day shipping on orders placed by 6 pm CDT, and we require no minimum order so our dealers can order what they want, when they want it.
Petra.com is not only available for ordering 24/7, but also allows dealers to manage their accounts at their convenience. They can see what invoices have been paid, get their complete order history, see their shipment tracking, sign up for our exclusive email blasts, and much more. Our installers seem to really love our mobile site that allows them to check inventory and pricing on their smartphone at their job site.
On top of that, we pay the freight on orders of more than $800, and we offer free three-day shipping upgrades to those outside of our three-day area to make sure we get products in our dealers hands faster while keeping freight costs to a minimum. We really just focus on how to provide solutions that help our dealers remain successful by helping them increase their margins, drive down their overhead costs and manage their inventory and cash flow better.
CustomRetailer: What brands do you carry?
Stewart: In the custom-install category, we carry a lot of really great names, such as Monster, Philips, Toshiba, Peerless, Pinnacle, Velodyne, Xantech, Sherwood, Universal Remote, Panamax, APC, Sanus Systems, Proficient, Cerwin Vega, OmniMount, Tripp-Lite, Dewalt, Black and Decker, HAI, Elite Screens, Optoma and so many more.
CustomRetailer: Do you only carry accessories?
Stewart: Our niche has always been accessories because they are the profit drivers for dealers. However, we want to keep our product mix diversified like any other business in our industry, so we stock a healthy selection of hardware items such as TVs, cameras, tablets and e-readers, DVD players, receivers, satellite radios, home theater in a box systems and more. Our goal is to be the one-stop distributor for all of our customers' needs.
CustomRetailer: What do you offer dealers in the way of support?
Stewart: Our ability to service the customer is one of our biggest strengths. First and foremost, Petra never outsources its customer service or sales, regardless of the account size. In fact, we provide each dealer with a dedicated account rep—someone who really takes the time to understand their business, so they can help find opportunities for special buys, diversifying their product mix, etc.
On top of that, we help dealers manage their profits and cash flow by offering flexible payment terms that range from COD to floor plan to support their choice of cash-flow disciplines. Basically, our focus is being the major resource that dealers can use to run the most efficient business they can without making compromises. After all, it's about helping them grow their business and avoiding getting caught up in red tape.
CustomRetailer: How does a dealer sign up with you?
Stewart: Becoming a customer is really easy! Go to our website (www.petra.com/application) to fill out the application. Our online application system makes it fast and easy for you to be set up and ready to order as quickly as the same day, depending on terms.
CustomRetailer: What do you find is the biggest issue facing dealers today, and what does Petra do to help the dealer?
Stewart: Finding ways to better serve customers is both the biggest challenge and opportunity in any industry. It is hard for dealers to balance that service with keeping overhead costs down. Petra has worked closely with our manufacturer partners on forecasting—actually increasing our inventory levels beyond conventional thinking to ensure ample stock for our dealers during a time when inventories are being highly scrutinized.
We also continue to invest heavily in both our IT and operations infrastructure to streamline our warehouse processes, improve our overall efficiency and accuracy and ultimately drive down costs for our dealers. This enables us to be a strategic distribution partner acting as a reliable extension of our manufacturers' businesses while meeting all of the needs of our customers—big or small.
Our website is available for dealers to place orders 24/7, and we also have a mobile site that makes it easy to order on the go because we know it is important for them to have just-in-time inventory so they can maintain adequate cash flow. We work really hard to be a strategic solution partner with the flexibility and agility to meet the needs of our dealers.
CustomRetailer: Explain your e-commerce initiative.
Stewart: Petra's blind drop-ship fulfillment program offers the opportunity for e-tailers to launch or even expand their current drop-ship business. Petra serves its e-tailers by acting as a virtual warehouse and shipping directly to the end-user consumer. E-tailers have access to Petra's huge inventory of more than 20,000 products from more than 500 manufacturers. Petra's product list is available 24/7 with up-to-date pricing, availability, descriptions and more.
Petra's team handles the logistics, packing and shipping from its sophisticated distribution center, which means an e-tailer doesn't need to stock a single item or pack a single box. In essence, the e-tailer has more time and freedom to market and sell products without worrying about the hassles of inventory and shipping.
CustomRetailer: Shipping with Petra is very fast. How do you do this and why is it so important?
Stewart: Getting products to our dealers as fast and as cost effective as possible is definitely one of the big perks of partnering with Petra. In addition to our same-day shipping guarantee on any order placed before 6 p.m. CDT, our central location means we can reach either coast in just a few days. We also use a variety of carriers like UPS, FedEx, LTL, etc. to give our customers the best options.
We even offer an automatic free three-day shipping upgrade to customers outside the standard three-day area. Many of our customers use us to provide just-in-time inventory to curb their overhead, so fast shipping is important, because the faster we can get the product to them, the faster they can take care of their customers. CR