Developing Business Online
Sales used to be agreed upon with a handshake, but more and more business transactions occur with the click of a button (and a credit card number, of course). It's clear from the success of sites like Amazon that consumers are moving online. Online sales totaled $305 billion last year, according to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. In the fourth quarter alone, online sales accounted for 7.7 percent of total sales with $96 billion-a 14.7 percent increase over the same time in 2013.
But what about business-to-business (B2B) sales? In the print and promotional industry, those sales seem to be following the same trend. With e-commerce becoming the norm in retail, B2B clients might be interested in having the same option-to sign onto your website, quickly find and design what they need, and purchase it. (Don't worry, you can call them to catch up another time). We spoke to two companies that have created software that will make the jump online less scary-and for those already online, they might just have an upgraded version of your current system's capabilities.
In an effort to help clients streamline business, Navitor, a commercial printer based in North Mankato, Minn., launched a new endeavor called navINK in fall 2014. It consists of three components-DESIGNworks, BRANDworks and eCOMMworks. The latter is an e-commerce website, but the company's main focus has been on the other two, which are product design tools that can be incorporated into an existing website or one navINK creates. "The secret sauce that Navitor provides is that we know print, we know how products need to be built, how products need to be configured," Tom Rau, director of navINK eProduct Management for Navitor, said. "And we've been doing this for a long time, so we brought all of that knowledge into the product configurators and bring those to market independent of the printing aspect of Navitor. It's really technology as a product."