The e-commerce arena has proved favorable for package printing suppliers, but their routes to success may surprise you.
by Susan Friedman, Editor
Postcards back from the trenches of e-commerce imply that the same e-business plan won't ensure online profits for every package printing supplier, but several overriding concepts should hold true for any Web-based sales initiative. Here, several suppliers share the common threads their varied e-ventures have shown.
Adhesives Research, a splicing tapes manufacturer; Avery Dennison's Fasson Roll North America Div., a label materials manufacturer; Copac, an offset and rotary letterpress package printer; and Wilson Manufacturing, a rotary die manufacturer
Finding #1: Start early, start simple, and add interactive features in stages.
Based on the experiences of the companies featured here, it's safe to say that a solid online sales initiative doesn't materialize overnight. The development of soundly functional interactive features is typically spread out over months, or even several years, and holds a better chance for success if it proceeds according to customer feedback.
Avery Dennison's Fasson Roll North America Division first appeared on the Web in 1997, offering straightforward brochure-ware and product data, as well as its Fasson Outlet Store, which offers master roll offcuts at a discount. In 1999, it rolled out real-time data services such as order tracking, purchase order history, and price quotes, as well as Mix-n-Match service, in which a customer enters a facestock-adhesive-liner combination to determine if Fasson can produce it.
Package printer Copac began its Web venture in 1998 by posting marketing materials on its site, and then added embedded customer access portions in 1999. Purchase order status, order searches, and shipping status are now accessible online, and customers can log replacement orders. Currently the site's most popular feature is its finished goods inventory posting.
For Adhesives Research, repeated requests from pulp and paper industry customers were the driving impetus behind the set-up of online ordering for its high-performance splicing products. The site consolidates purchase orders to simplify record-keeping, shows customers complete part numbers rosters, and provides shipping notification. A key achievement of the site, relates marketing communications director Melinda Hopp, is that part numbers have been standardized to appear just as they do in customer records.