Office Products Resellers, their Websites and their Lack of Traffic

In this article, the fourth of a seven-part series, I will explain the Importance of website traffic, how it's measured, how it can be managed, and its development motivated. For small business owners, just like winning a new customer is hard work, so is developing web traffic. Unfortunately, there's been little understanding or vision within the office products industry that, by working to fix the web traffic issue, it may become easier to win new customers!

The Series Index & Links to Access

I'll publish the final three parts of this series over the next ten days to more fully support the argument I presented in my article, "How the Office Products Industry Has Failed the Resellers."

The Importance of web traffic:

As this series of articles has been prepared to explain, many digital components need to be in place and order before serious web traffic development can effectively commence.

  • A world-class website with frequent updates
  • High-quality, relevant content
  • Social Media audience development and engagement
  • Inbound marketing (social and email)

Many small business owners don't know where to start, either with the foundational components listed above or the subsequent strategies for developing traffic. Although almost all of the reseller businesses have websites, I have heard more times than I can recall, "My website is there for a different reason; my customers don't need me to have a website" I, in turn, have interpreted this as another way of saying "I've got a website, but I don't know what to do next!"

This kind of reseller thinking defies logic. Why bother with a website without a plan or objective to develop traffic? It's like setting up a conventional brick-and-mortar store in a remote, isolated location, which everyone instinctively knows would be a waste of time and money, but, for some reason, not having a similar, intuitive understanding that a website isolated in the remote depths of the internet is also a complete waste of time and money.

"Money has been invested to build websites, but money has not been invested to develop traffic to them. Oftentimes the site investment will now turn out to have been a waste, because the structure and design wasn't suitable for traffic development in the first place."

According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from Accenture's Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do online research before buying.

  • 77% use Google Search
  • 84% check business websites
  • 34% visit third-party websites
  • 41% read user reviews

"For office products resellers, who have failed to deploy websites designed to satisfy the requirements of the 94% of B2B buyers who conduct online research before making a buying decision, these statistics should send a deep chill down their collective spines!"

Office product resellers must understand that over 90% of their potential customers, perhaps just as important as their existing customers, are researching online. Once this fact and its implications are understood, content relevant to these searches must be created and placed on their websites to become a source of authoritative information responsive to these searches. The foundation for developing traffic has been established if this can be achieved.

How to measure web traffic:

Most are probably familiar with Google Analytics and, perhaps, somewhat less with the Alexa analytics service provided by Amazon. For the analytics to be accurate, both services require tracking codes installed on the owner's website. Once this has been done, detailed metrics regarding all aspects of the traffic to the site are available, such as the sample set shown in the table below.

Web Traffic Metrics
MetricsActualBudget% of Budget
Unique Visits3,0494,00076%
Total Visits (includes returning visitors)4,4576,00074%
Page Views8,16712,00068%
Search Engine Referrals18650037%
Social Referrals44080055%
Visits from Links49360082%
Direct Traffic4,5354,000113%
Bounce Rate46.5%30%65%
Page Views per Visit1.832.0092%
Minutes per Visit8.484.00212%
Total Time on Site (hours)629.92400.00157%
Visits from Mobile8961,00090%
Global Rank (Google = #1)698,392500,00071%
USA Rank (Google = #1)140,663120,00086%


How to manage and motivate web traffic development:

A significant part of the answer to the management and motivation for ongoing traffic development is preparing a budget and closely monitoring lasting performance compared to that Budget. Small businesses often neglect to prepare traditional budgets for sales, operating expenses, profits, etc.; it's doubtful many have even considered designing a budget for the key performance indicators associated with web traffic development and visitor engagement. However, web traffic is not passive; it's hard work, and, to stay motivated and keep doing the work day after day, you need to see the results of your efforts as they're tracked against realistic goals. Otherwise, and I've seen it many times, the initial attempt quickly winds down and is eventually abandoned.

"I know first-hand it's hard work, the numbers in the data table are our numbers!"

We registered this domain for Executive & Strategic Solutions in January 2015 and launched the site with actual content a few months later. I started my blog in September 2015, and we significantly upgraded the site in mid-2016. We've worked hard on the range and our efforts to develop an audience. We still have a long way to go. Still, in a sad reflection of the industry, these numbers are already significantly better than the individual performance of most businesses that make up a $5 billion aftermarket office supplies industry in the United States. We've been going for barely two years, while the industry's average domain age is over 15 years. I'm not bragging here, as our intent in disclosing these metrics is not to "toot our own horn"; it's to expose the industry's weak performance as a whole.

E&S Solutions Site Traffic Analytics.jpg


As we approach 2020, a viable business without a website is unthinkable, and a website without traffic, or a strategy to develop traffic, is useless. The aftermarket office products industry must stop ignoring the traffic problem and start to deploy and execute strategies to address the issue.

Perhaps I'm beating a dead horse, but when over 90% of buyers are researching online before making a buying decision and, with as many as 5,000 independent resellers in the United States failing to build effective landing pages for these searches, then why should we be surprised the aftermarket share has been static for a decade and, unless something changes, is now poised over the next decade, for the double-whammy of losing market share in a now shrinking market.

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