Review - May 2000
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Ten Observed Trends
in eCom for the 
Building Automation Industry

Ken Sinclair, Editor

If you had asked me one year ago if
I would be writing about my observations of eCom trends for our industry I would have said, eCom would not have a significant effect on our industry.  
But I would have been wrong. 

Our new Industry eCom Directory resulted from a review of several e-com sites. 

Below are ten observed trends followed by a few of my own thoughts on eCom for our industry.

  1. eCom is been first embraced by the bit suppliers of our industry.
    eCom appears to be of the most use to the companies that supply the incredible number of components necessary to automate buildings. These bit suppliers have the task of reaching the greatest number of system manufacturers and their respective installing contractors in a timely and cost effective manner. This is not an easy task. Clients want shorter supply times and lower prices and eCom allows suppliers to greatly multiply their existing efforts. In addition, they can meet the common goal of "just in time supply" to help maintain their clients' profit margins. 

  2. eCom is occurring even though companies are not prepared for its arrival 
    Just because you do not have an eCom system do not think eCommerce will not happen. Underground eCom systems are evolving. Emails orders, with attached purchase orders in PDF format start to rapidly raise havoc with traditional paper trail systems.  Email orders to several employees are difficult to manage and trace. I know of no one who would refuse orders of this type so do not believe that you can ignore the eCom phenomenon.    

  3. Automatic quotation generation is a large part of eCom for the industry
    The ability to generate quotations on line based on quantity, dealer discount, and delivery requirements can greatly amplify the salesperson's time. I feel that our clients are ready to accept eQuotes. The ability to get information 24 hours a day is becoming an expected feature of a company.

  4. Ability to order 24 hours a day becomes increasing important
    For busy installing contractors the ability to order equipment after normal work hours becomes an extremely added value feature. Online self help technical support and online email support are also of great value.  

  5. Secure B2B eCom increases manufacturing companies value
    Manufacturers of equipment who provide password protected eCom to their dealers greatly enhance their company value as dealers have access to order products, plus complete corporate technical services 24 hours a day.  The 24 hour service is extremely important when dealer and manufacturer operate in different time zones. (No pun intended.)

  6. The importance of Manufacturers location relative to rapid shipping routes increases
    As more and more products are ordered from the factory the stocking location relative to rapid shipping routes, airports, etc becomes more important. Property management firms are expecting warehouse spaces near airports to be at a premium as rapid conversion to eCom occurs.

  7. Control Solutions, Inc Distribution chain function changes
    Distributors will play less of a role in assembling orders for equipment but will still provide local product support and may still provide local product stocking. Some of the new companies who presently do not have a distribution chain will supply products from a central location without a local representative. Good virtual support at the central location will reduce local representative/distributors function but not eliminate it. I feel that as their required task is reduced an opportunity will exist for existing distributors and manufacturers representative to take on the support of more products. 

  8. Visa and MasterCard are used for eCredit
    Existing eCredit vehicles will be used to allow rapid approval of credit for eCom. This is of particular value to the bit suppliers who are dealing with more and more independent contractors. Online credit application forms are normally available on most sites to allow purchase orders and traditional purchases to occur.

  9. Online Catalogs are integral part of eCom site
    The advantages of an online catalog are enormous. The ability to post price changes, new products and have them all available instantly to your clients eliminates many of the problems of the past. Tight integration of the catalog with the eCommerce greatly simplifies purchase. The tight integration of engineering specifications and dimension information usually in downloadable PDF format great simplifies distribution of this critical information and allows printing on demand anywhere.

  10. eCom Catalogs and order entry system are also supplied on CD for off line use
    The ability to transfer the complete eCom system including catalogs and engineering data to CD for off line use by clients greatly enhances the total eCom investment. When web connection is provided stored orders can be sent and pricing updates provided. The ability to decouple from the net allows the virtual catalog to retain the portability that we have come to expect.

In addition to my 10 observations read the article "the 10 Driving Principles of the New Economy" on Business 2.0's website. I feel these principles provide even greater insight to the changes that are now upon us. 

The New Economy is being driven by a profound development: individuals and companies worldwide are being electronically linked, a process as significant as an organism developing a nervous system. So it's no surprise that the rules of the game are changing. Many of these principles have been stated before. But taken together they constitute a revolution in the rules of business. They are the basis upon which Business 2.0 is founded.

Check them out for yourself.

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