Go with the Technological Flow
Technology tools offer distributors a lifeline to future prosperity.
Charles Darwin theorized that it isn't the strongest species that survive, nor even the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. For print distributors, the father of evolution's pronouncement underscores their need to adapt to the tools of technology if they hope to have a fighting chance in today's marketplace.
"Distributors who don't have a technological edge will be lost," acknowledged Steve Stone, president of Western Business Forms, Fresno, Calif. While there's no substitute for solid salesmanship, those skills must be coupled with the convenience and efficiency that only technology provides in order to satisfy and retain customers. "If I can't offer it, my competition will," continued Stone. "Why give my customers away?"
Technology also adds a cohesiveness and a time-saving element to Western Business Forms' internal workflow. "I run a lean operation—sort of a one-man show—so I need to streamline as much as possible to make every minute count," Stone said. "Technology sustains distributorships, especially the smaller ones, and provides the look and feel of a bigger company."
Software to the Rescue
Forced by a cumbersome, user-unfriendly operating system to shop for a new one, Stone saw a demo of the Windows-based OETS (order entry tracking systems) software from Integrated Graphics Data Systems (IGDS), Las Vegas. The distributors' version manages client and prospect information, creates requests for quotes, and generates proposals, purchase orders, acknowledgements and shipment notifications. The application features 24/7 Internet access and updates information once a day or on demand.
Charlie Owens, vice president of sales at IGDS, was a distributor for 13 years and understands the type of functionality that industry professionals require. "A lot of the things that distributors have to think about are pre-set into the program, including a profiling system that establishes individual customers' preferences for receiving communications, such as confirmations and notifications," said Owens. "It's this kind of intuitiveness that must be in trade software to save time, shorten the learning curve and keep things simple."