Sell and Serve in Web-based World
How distributors are saving time, opening doors and sharpening their competitive edges.
It's no longer a question of "if" distributors offer online capabilities, but since when, or how soon. Indeed, today's marketplace demands that distributors implement Web-based solutions.
But for every action, there is a reaction, and transitioning from manual to automated workflow is going to have a major impact on daily operations and relationships. In addition, while e-commerce can be an effective time-saving tool that streamlines routine operations, some distributors are finding that there are limitations when it comes to serving more customized needs.
BFL&S invited the following panel of distributors to share insights on these issues:
- Michael Boyle, president, Murray & Heister, Beltsville, Md.
- Bob Cronin, president, MacGraphics, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
- H. Dean Horn, president, RATH Information Systems, Bellefontaine, Ohio.
- John Katzman, co-owner, Informs, Anaheim, Calif.
- Jeff Martin, vice president of sales & marketing, Control Printing Group, Independence, Mo.
- Walt Smith, CDC, president, IDS-Integrated Document Solutions, Dallas.
1. Briefly describe the influences leading to your implementation of e-commerce and its services.
Martin: Our software system needed to be updated anyway, so meeting the needs of our customers was our basic influence. We offer a fully integrated front- and back-end Windows-based system called INCONTROL. The program is a customizable, secure, electronic ordering system that ties together an online product catalog, support information, online proofing, report generation and electronic messaging.
Smith: We established electronic ordering primarily for business cards in September 2001. Business cards tend to be the most scrutinized piece of printing out there, and quite frankly, the salespeople didn't enjoy selling them. Electronic ordering is great for these repeat orders and it allows customers to print out a color proof. It was necessary to offer this service in order to get the salespeople committed to marketing these products again.