Ingram/Spring Arbor and HarperCollins Christian Publishing invest in the future.

As CBA supports and advocates for the Christian products industry, we value the opportunity to work with sponsors and partners who share our vision for a global network that provides resources to glorify God around the world.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Ingram/Spring Arbor Distributors are two likeminded sponsors who have a long history of involvement in the Christian products industry. They are the title sponsors of UNITE 2017 and sponsor many other helps to the industry.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing is a world-leading Christian content provider that strives to inspire the world by meeting people’s needs with content that promotes biblical principles and honors Jesus Christ. With nearly 300 years of publishing expertise, the company produces best-selling Bibles, inspirational books, academic resources, and curriculum in both traditional and digital formats. With its two foundational publishing groups, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, the company is home to some of the world’s most renowned Christian leaders. It also offers Olive Tree Bible Software, an innovative biblical resource that makes studying God’s Word accessible anywhere, and Bible Gateway, the world’s largest Christian website.

As an operating unit of Ingram Content Group, Spring Arbor Distributors is the leader in distribution, print-on-demand, and digital solutions for both physical and online Christian retailers. Spring Arbor aims to help Christian retailers build strong businesses and, in turn, strong ministries and communities. With more than 30 years of experience serving the Christian market, Spring Arbor understands the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Christian retailers.

Spring Arbor offers the most books, Bibles, communionware, church supplies, music, family-friendly DVDs, Bible accessories, and gift and game products available for immediate shipment. Seeing it as essential to enthusiastically serve customers and be gracious and truthful in all interactions, Spring Arbor strives to provide superior distribution services for products that enhance people’s relationship with God and spread Jesus Christ’s message.

SUPPORT FOR CHRISTIAN STORES

HarperCollins Christian and Ingram/Spring Arbor continue to invest in the Christian products industry because they believe in its strength and importance.

“It’s important for us to support Christian retail because our missions align,” says Tom Knight, SVP of sales at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, noting that Christian stores support the depth and breadth of the HarperCollins Christian catalog and therefore are instrumental in helping inspire the world with Christian content.

“The way people shop today continues to change and evolve,” says Dan Van Gorp, director of independent retail at HCCP. “We still believe that Christian retailers have the ability to deliver specialized knowledge of the product and that they are in a unique position to offer the consumer an experience of God’s grace in real and practical ways.”

To support retailers, HarperCollins Christian maintains a full field sales team along with an inside sales team, both of which are dedicated to the independent channel and local churches. Van Gorp says they are constantly looking for ways to use all marketing assets to drive store traffic into brick-and-mortar retailers.

“Christian stores have provided significant resources to their communities for decades,” says Shawn Everson, chief commercial officer at Ingram Content Group. “Not only do they provide resources at all stages of life, but they also provide a central hub for people to explore their faith and the world.”

According to Everson, Ingram/Spring Arbor assists retailers in understanding the options for them to help raise awareness, grow their customer base, and create a forum for continued engagement with their community and potential buyers.

A few of Ingram’s recent initiatives include finding opportunities for retailers to reevaluate their processes and strategies to keep them relevant and thriving. Some of these include optimizing inventory by helping customers identify dead inventory and do some spring cleaning with liquidation to increase cash flow to purchase more relevant product; analyzing the local community to strategize on all levels such as store hours, inventory, and community programs; and encouraging partnerships with local businesses to support one local community cause.

“We want to understand retailers’ needs so we can help them meet their goals and best serve their customers,” says Everson. “We have tools, insights, and manpower to help our retailers be successful, but we need their frontline insights to help them be more efficient.”

He adds that Spring Arbor understands what it means for Christian retailers to keep a good product mix, have a lean inventory, and utilize JIT (Just In Time) buying to make their money work for them. He says the company has robust offerings to help Christian retailers succeed and wants to hear feedback to help make the process even better.

“We enjoy hearing from our customers about their pain points in the industry and identifying how we can work together to alleviate the obstacles and help them provide the right content to their communities,” he says. “We’d like our retailers to understand we’re here to help them and shape our offerings and strategies to serve them with programs, services, or introductions.”

SUPPORT FOR AUTHORS

In addition to supporting the retail channel, full support of the industry includes supporting authors and encouraging new voices. One of Ingram’s programs designed to do just that is IngramSpark, which offers independent authors the ability to print and distribute books through an on-demand model that greatly reduces the financial risk of bringing a book to market. IngramSpark is an independent publishing platform offering quality, options, and industry connections enjoyed by big-time publishers through a single platform made accessible to the indie-publishing community. The print-on-demand capabilities enable authors to have the number of books they need when they need it, and then the global distribution network connects the book to more than 39,000 retailers and libraries around the world and more than 70 major online channels.

ONLINE REALITIES

Both HarperCollins Christian and Ingram/Spring Arbor highly value Christian stores while agreeing that internet options are real and can’t be ignored. The rise of technology has created numerous channels for content to reach readers, including through e-books, newsletters, or social media.

“The interesting thing about technology—including the internet— is finding ways to use it to enhance the relationships you have in the community,” comments Everson. “Technology has certainly changed the way we do business. However, retailers can use that to their advantage to identify, engage, and nurture their community and then add the exceptional in-person insights and touch.”

“The constant change in the retail landscape oftentimes leaves retailers feeling discouraged,” says Van Gorp. “We’re working to help them be bold in creating a unique shopping experience and helping to get them outside their doors to service the local churches and ministries. There needs to be an understanding that there are now various retail options that exist, and to thrive in this current retail culture, it’s going to require some different business tactics to re-engage with their current customers and to reach out to a whole new demographic. We’re committed to helping them in this process.”

UNITY

The UNITE 2017 sponsors acknowledge that working together with others in the industry is imperative for a successful future.

“Spring Arbor is not only an important strategic partner [of HCCP] but a neighbor,” says Knight. “We’ve worked together and supported each other for as long as we can remember. Our success as a company is mutually aligned with theirs.”

“We are proud to be cosponsor with HarperCollins Christian,” says Everson. “Our efforts in the wholesale industry and their credibility as a publisher are important to the future of the market.”

—Sharon Roberts