Learn how electronic commerce can move your business into the next millennium
By Stacey Wenzel
Back in December, when just about everyone was hustling to complete his or her holiday shopping, a booming number of people turned to the Internet.
A study conducted by Jupiter Communications, New York, estimated that 44 percent of the online households in the U.S. shopped via the Internet during November and December--spending $3.14 billion.
What does this prove?
Consumers are demanding that businesses have online options--and companies that don't may lose out on sales to competitors who are online.
Distributors can use the Internet to help grow their businesses by prospecting for leads, generating quotes with an instant printed record and finding unique savings through special offers, for example.
"With the electronic side of the industry on the rise and with the Internet in general, it's obvious that electronic commerce is the future," said Jeff Hallstrom, vice president of sales and marketing at TFP Data Systems, Oxnard, Calif. "Not getting involved would be a big mistake."
According to Hallstrom, TFP's Web site is very user-friendly. "We take our page and customize it for the distributor. For a fraction of the cost the distributor would spend doing it himself, we can make the site look and feel like the distributor's," he said. "End-users don't realize they are actually jumping to the TFP site."
Hallstrom added that orders are routed two ways--to the distributor or directly to TFP.
"The billing depends on the situation," he said. "It typically goes to the distributor first, and then is di-rected to us.
"Our Web site is really a work in progress," added Hallstrom. "It's taken about two to three years to really make it worthwhile and have functionality. Our site is a tool for the customer, not just information."