DISTRIBUTORS IN TRANSITION -- E-enabled Dealers
While Imaging Supplies & Equipment salespeople are only using the system with a limited number of customers at this point, those who are using the new Website have been very happy with the system's new capabilities.
"They love it," reveals Bertoni. "It provides them with access 24 hour a day. For example, if their CPA is working late on invoices, he has the ability to get up on the Web and look at the data."
It's just these kinds of report capabilities for which customers are looking, claims Pitman President and CEO Joe Demharter.
In an attempt to meet this growing trend head on, Pitman acquired the defunct Printnation Website. Pitman then combined Printnation's assets with Pitman's product line, as well as Pitman's nationwide bricks-and-mortar infrastructure—which includes 20 warehouse locations across the United States. In May, Pitman relaunched the site as Printnation, powered by Pitman.
This marriage of technology and infrastructure now provides Printnation with the delivery, service and support network to drive its e-commerce offering, something that was missing in the original business model.
Although there are a few clients that purchase supplies online, most have not yet begun to purchase over the Web, according to Demharter. "We do have some customers who buy from us online. We have a very large printing company that buys $750,000 worth of products online. That's how they desire to do business. That is the exception rather than the rule, but we are beginning to see that change."
Part of the reason that online purchasing has not taken off is because e-commerce requires clients to make a cultural shift, which many are not quite ready to make.
This was one of the many barriers that ultimately hurt sites like the former Printnation, says Robert FitzPatrick, an industry consultant and editor of The Eagle, an independent journal covering the distribution business in the digital imaging industry.