Move into a More Modern E-Commerce
Print experts report that business and e-commerce evolve together.
The bar for good business within the print industry has been raised for some time now. Since e-commerce opportunities infiltrated the print arena in the 1990s, many distributors have felt compelled to utilize Internet technologies in order to conform to modern business practices—a logical decision since so many consumers are demanding faster, more efficient print solutions. Still, e-commerce is considered to be a new application, and those who use it continue to adapt to its ongoing evolution while those deciding to use it search for suitable modules.
The question for those who do utilize e-commerce, then, is whether or not it is living up to their expectations. Julie Pritchard, president of TopForm Software, Norcross, Ga., said it is.
"E-commerce is definitely the hot product of the day. We've found that our distributors want to build an electronic fence of constant communication around their customers, which they can do with e-commerce," she said. "Customers can become quite adapted to 24-hour access to information—service that reaches beyond people's expectations."
John Smilko, vice president of Kramer-Smilko, Bel Air, Md., agreed."The Internet serves as a great tool for squeezing efficiency out of a distributor's operation since everything in the print business is customer driven."
And sales figures typically speak for themselves. Smilko cited a Nashville customer who was initially skeptical of e-commerce. "That client did not think he needed e-commerce software but was glad he opted to implement it after it helped him land a $2 million account," said Smilko.
In fact, Smilko added that it is safe to say that all print sales are driven by the need for effective e-commerce solutions. "No longer are cost savings to the distributor the primary benefit," he said. "It's become a tool that opens doors previously closed to most independents. Now we can document to prospects how customers have landed millions of dollars in new business."