Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski
Is adding a shopping cart right for you?
Like Projector People, Educational Resources depends heavily on an inside sales force, but it does a great deal of direct mail to supplement its electronic marketing. It uses its inside sales force to make regular outbound tele¬marketing calls and to field incoming inquiries. Educational Resources also employs a small outside sales force to look into larger sales opportunities, but ecommerce remains an important part of the company's approach.
"There are going to be users out there who know exactly what they want and who have done their research," he says. "The Web has greatly aided our customers' ability to get the information they need ahead of a call."
Bob Carlson, chief operating officer of United Visual in Itasca, Ill., says his company has had an online catalog and shopping cart since 1999, but it uses it now mainly to serve individual large customers. For that reason, United Visual has been transforming its site to emphasize AV integration and online procurement.
"A university will put out a bid and say, 'We want to buy Extron, AMX, and Epson projectors,'" Carlson says. "We basically do a customized page that's their entry point to our site where they can see the products they've contracted with us to buy. We end up filling the database with items that only they can see."
Carlson says the first time United Visual modified the site for a bid customer, it took a lot of planning and programming.
"But once you've built out one, creating a build-out for somebody else is easy," he says. "The only place where there's significant labor involved is adding the products and setting the right percentages as per your agreement."
Specialized Service Strategy
Vince Graham, founder and president of Leeds, N.Y.-based Security Design Services, sells commercial security cameras and related gear to customers who will do their own installation.
"What integrators don't like to hear is that most of this stuff isn't brain surgery. … We have a place on our website where you can answer a few questions and, within an hour, have a proposal in front of you for an entire system—cables, connectors, crimp tools, cameras, whatever it is," Graham says.
This isn't a strategy that will suit every customer, but it appeals to a target market needing small security systems and another target with larger needs, but with an inhouse maintenance staff who can do the labor. "I have a drawing on my desk right now for a $40,000 system," Graham says.
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