Distributors Ponder a Paperless Office
E-forms are a value-added product about to reach the mainstream
By Eric Fiedler
FOR YEARS, e-forms were considered a product of the future. For many distributors, the future is now.
More than three-fourths of Business Forms, Labels & Systems' Top 100 Distributors sell electronic forms, including nine of the top 10. While most of the larger companies introduced electronic form programs three to five years ago, they say the benefits are just beginning for both their clients and themselves.
"People are increasingly ready to take advantage of electronic forms because they now have the necessary infrastructure in place," said Daniel Siadak, CDC, president of RBF in Lansing, Mich. "We are starting to see a lot more activity."
Recent improvements in electronic security, signatures, software and increased network usage have all contributed to a spike in e-form popularity. Despite this, distributors say the product is not a major profit center—yet.
"For us, e-forms are a value-added product that allows us to hang on to existing accounts," said Paul Cabra, president of business operations at Precept Business Products, Dallas.
Doug Deason, president and CEO of business systems at Precept Business Systems, said that although e-forms are not a huge profit center for the company, there is no fear of losing money by offering them. "E-forms enhance our overall product selection and give our customers another option," he said.
Tom Tabor, vice president of corporate operations for Data Systems, Duluth, Ga., also said that e-forms are not used as a door opener at his company. "We use them when we have to preserve a situation, but it's not something that we go out and proactively sell," he said.
Tabor said all of his e-forms business has come from existing forms clients. "It typically comes from our larger accounts," he said. "They are looking to solve specific problems with information overload, and we look at e-forms as a key differentiator in that kind of problem solving."