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SELLING ON THE WEB -- Internet Enabled

September 2001

So why aren't more printers e-enabling their Websites? Well for one, Johnson believes that printers have always been a little shy of technology. "This fear of technology can be so debilitating. Printing is such a brick-and-mortar industry. It's so difficult to realize that we are no longer an ink/paper industry."

Johnson concedes that the e-commerce hype has not helped matters. Printers have had the ASPs forced down their throats so much that they've missed out on how it can help them develop better relationships. "All that many printers are looking at when it comes to e-business is the intermediaries. But many of the intermediaries are solely focused on selling. Printers forget that e-enabled Websites are tools to improve and manage relationships," she adds.

Still another roadblock is that many printers stop at the first stage of building an effective Website. Most printers only build a brochure-ware Website with limited e-commerce capabilities, according to Johnson. "Printers think that they're just spending money on a Website that isn't offering a return. And they're not designing their Websites to gather information about their customers," she says.

By encouraging clients to utilize its Website, Buchanan can gather information about their purchasing habits and needs. This enables the company to respond to customer needs before clients realize that they have those needs. "We are building profiles on our customers about what they like and what they don't like, and how they like to do business," Johnson reveals.

"We want to be an arm or a leg—an essential appendage of their business," she adds. While tying clients is invaluable to Buchanan, Johnson also sees the Internet as a way to increase Buchanan's profitability.

"The Internet is a powerful tool for increased profitability, and not just for doing business. Every printer needs to streamline its workflow. The Internet provides us with ways to streamline our paper procurement and management of ink and consumables," she says.

Ultimately, Johnson firmly believes that the role of a printer is broadening. "We are now in an industry of information dissemination. Print is merely one option.

"We have to provide the tools for deployment. We need to provide solutions for our customers' communication needs whether through traditional print or being able to manage their assets," she concludes.

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