No matter how obscure our tastes, almost anything we have a yen for is a mere Google search or eBay bid away. For good or bad, the same holds for business owners: everyone, it seems, uses the Internet as an avenue for free promotion and advertising opportunities. As a result, any business hoping to thrive must venture into digital services and online business.
Obviously, e-commerce opportunities have advantages and disadvantages. Change can be daunting, especially when it means investing in training for employees in order to service clients. The investment in technology alone can be cost-prohibitive, too. In the race to outwit stiff competition and stay relevant, companies aren’t only carving out niches for consumers, they’re making it easier for manufacturers and resellers to do the same. Both Bowling Green, Ohio-based Century Marketing and PageDNA in Redwood City, Calif., have tapped into their traditional professional strengths to creatively capitalize on the electronic marketplace.
Century Marketing, which currently offers an interface for resellers to offer online design capabilities for label orders, began developing Profit Making Technology (PMT) in April 2004. “We started in the ’80s, selling door-to-door custom labels and packaging to independent retailers,” Robert Petrie, vice president of wholesale markets, explained. “We identified, in the 1990s, [that] many distributors would not pursue short-run, custom label business because of the confusion, complexity and time required to design and order labels for the amount of revenue they would receive.”
PMT’s design tool, which appears as a component of a client’s Web site, can be customized to achieve the look and feel of individual resellers’ Web sites, Petrie noted. PMT offers two different programs to its clients: an affiliate program and a distributor program. The affiliate program allows clients to “link the current program and products, that we have ... right on to our Web site. So if you were an affiliate, you could sign up today, have a button on your Web site tomorrow that would say ‘custom labels and tags,’ we could design that button any way you want it, and you could have a full program of short-run custom labels on your site with the look and feel of your site.” The distributor program is more complex, allowing clients to custom-design their site, making labels and tags available to resellers’ customers to create. Petrie added, “[Distributors] can pick and choose their products and pricing. Their credit card transaction goes directly to their merchant gateway account—we never even see it. So, [clients] can actually book the sale and have much more ability to customize this to fit their business needs.” Both programs utilize PMT’s specialties, including the ability to convert uploaded low-resolution art into high-resolution art and movable curved text capabilities that allow customers to alter the curve on the text.