Vision & Innovation
Consistent with the innovation of their iconic brand and outdoor products, The North Face (TNF) has achieved an industry first by eliminating mass printing of B2B sales catalogs and work books. TNF is not only the first major outdoor brand to accomplish this, but they are the first to do so among virtually all manufacturing verticals through the use of digital merchandising technology. And what is truly noteworthy about this achievement is that TNF has successfully overcome their retail partners’ strong reliance on traditional printed sales catalogs, while literally transforming the nature of wholesale merchandising.
This quantum shift in product purchasing behavior was driven by a strong vision and desire at TNF to better serve retailers with a much more collaborative approach to B2B sales. Core to that vision was optimizing TNF brand performance on behalf of retailers by creating the most inclusive and efficient product acquisition process. A strong digital sales and merchandising platform was needed to create a truly flexible and immersive purchasing experience to help retailers reach their full potential in managing complex and diverse product lines.
“What The North Face has accomplished by eliminating printed B2B sales materials and complete adoption of digital merchandising with their retail partners is truly groundbreaking. It confirms not only their prominence as an iconic global brand, but their status as an innovative leader within the entire manufacturing sector. As a result of that leadership, The North Face is transforming the landscape of wholesale merchandising and bringing the collaboration between brands and retailers to an entirely new level.”
CEO PlumRiver Technologies
To make this possible, TNF helped pioneer the development of PlumRiver’s Elastic Suite digital merchandising platform to expand the boundaries for how reps and retailers can work together more effectively. In developing the right solution for their retail partners, TNF needed much more than just static digital catalogs. Providing retailers with features such as full assortment building, line showing functions and sell-in tools that were fully supported all the way to sell through were all central to TNF’s vision. These enhancements provided the foundation for achieving print free B2B sales and driving the necessary behavioral shift in retailer purchasing.
The ROI and bottom-line impact for achieving print free B2B sales at TNF comes in many forms. Relationships between TNF and their retail partners have become much stronger through the deep functionality and collaborative purchasing features provided through the use of this new technology. B2B print elimination brings with it the benefits of green business initiatives and brand enhancements as sustainability becomes increasingly important in the lifestyles and purchasing behavior of consumers. And eliminating printed materials from the commercial sales process creates efficiency- driven cost savings that flow directly through to the company’s bottom line. This case study overviews the impact of TNF’s print free B2B sales initiative in these three areas of retailer relationships, sustainability benefits and cost savings.