A little more than 10 years ago when Draperies & Window Coverings launched its Web site, the Internet was new, unexplored territory for this industry. Each month, after an issue of the printed magazine was mailed, it was uploaded to a server and made available to other intrepid voyagers in cyber space. Back then, many may have heard of this thing called the Information Superhighway, but few really knew where it would take us.
Oh, how things have changed!
When it comes to the Web, 10 years is ancient history—even
the terms we used back then sound hackneyed today (being “Googled”
still was years away). To be sure, visitors to DWConline.com still
can find current issues of the magazine there and search back (by
date, subject or author) all the way to that premiere January 1996
online issue. And they do—some 100,000 visitors each month
access more than 21,000 pages of content at our site—more
than 1 million total hits! The Web today is such an integral part
of our lives that it’s hard to remember when it wasn’t
It’s common knowledge now that consumers search the Web before
buying just about anything. Not only are they looking for product
knowledge, but they also are comparing products and services, searching
for ideas and wanting to know more about a company—its history
and customer service. Chances are, companies with well-designed,
informational Web sites will be the first ones called when a shopper
is ready to buy.
Just what has the Web meant for doing business in window treatments?
That’s what we asked some of the top suppliers and manufacturers
in this industry (see page 56). We find, first, that there are more
sites out there than ever before and that suppliers have added lots
of consumer-oriented features to their sites. Music, videos, photos,
room styles, product colors and features, interactive Q & A
opportunities and local dealer locators all help consumers decide
which product fits their specific needs and where to get it.
Secondly, we find business being conducted via the Web like never
before. Password-protected sites for dealers to order and track
orders, software for creating price quotations including margins,
sales reporting, account management, downloadable marketing materials,
even online payment. Many of the Web-based conveniences that help
consumers decide which product to buy may be helping dealers decide
which supplier to do business with.
There’s little doubt, anyway, that the Web has made business
today faster, smarter, easier. It makes you wonder what it’s
going to be like in another 10 years!