SELLING ON THE WEB — Internet Enabled

Buchanan’s clients now have a variety of options at their fingertips. Currently, customers can build profiles at the Website, as well as see their orders in eight different languages, FTP a file, get advice on how to prepare a file for submission and manage their digital assets, Soon, clients will also be able to order, proof and track jobs via the Website.

By offering clients access to these tools, Buchanan hopes to foster a sense of loyalty in customers—while cutting costs in the process. “Fostering loyalty is the key to profitability. If people truly understood the cost of a customer, there’s no question they would all be doing Websites like this,” she says.

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.

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