Marchand on Marketing?Electronic Commerce Reluctance

And now guys like yours truly are telling you to jump on the Internet and link up with customers via e-mail, Web sites, FTP and more.

I have a confession to make. A very simple admission: I give advice and provide my firm’s services to people whose jobs I would not wish to have. I’m glad not to be responsible for a printing company right now. The number of decisions that have to be made, the number of fronts on which senior printing executives have to move forward simultaneously, boggles the imagination. Exhilarating times these may be, but I don’t envy your jobs.

E-commerce Essentials
Already preoccupied with digital technology in production, printers now need to think about the list of transactions they will soon be able to conduct via the Internet—from initial inquiries and requests for estimates, through estimates and job status inquiries, to change orders and invoices.

If this isn’t a definition of electronic commerce, I don’t know what is. And none of this even begins to address job files, archiving or information management services

Imagine the changes in how sales reps work with prospects and customers. The phone, the auto, messengers and express delivery services will be augmented and, in some instances, replaced by information moving across the Internet.

The rep will remain essential and “face time”—meetings between reps and customers—will continue to be important, but the faster production cycles will require the use of digital communications media.

Aside from CSRs, people in production and other departments will more frequently interact with customers. Many of these relationships have been in place for some years. The Internet makes them essential and speeds their development.

This comes as news to no one. Several printing companies are already well along the road to electronic commerce; others may be paused en route. The adoption of new technology is seldom inevitable and the route is never smooth, but the Internet seems likely to provide more than a few printing companies with a competitive advantage well before the millennium.

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