Web sites have quickly become the go-to resource for finding information—about a company, its products, its programs and what others think about them. Product suppliers are taking advantage of this fact by providing customers—trade and consumer—with immediate and always available answers. For trade customers specifically, the Web has become a business tool used for ordering, tracking orders, downloading product specs and getting the latest news on promotional programs. Yet with all of its advantages, such as cost-effective marketing, we find that in most cases the Web has not replaced traditional advertising.
JUST A CLICK AWAY
Corporate Vice President
Whe World Wide Web is bringing rapid and radical change into our lives. The Internet has become the ultimate place to do research of all kinds. We at Hunter Douglas have realized that most savvy consumers who want to know more about window coverings are flocking online for their due diligence.
We have created a robust site www.hunterdouglas.com that provides the consumer with an enormous amount of content that is organized in a user-friendly, intuitive fashion. Our Product Advisor recommends the product that best responds to a consumer’s specific needs. In our Photo Gallery consumers can choose a product, a room and a design style to make ideas come alive. Product specs, downloadable brochures and instructions are just a click away. They can even send our resident designer Sally an e-mail and she will write back providing one-on-one consultation. Our dealer locator will direct the consumer to a well-trained, well-merchandised dealer that is conveniently located to ensure we provide them with a thoroughly satisfying shopping experience.
In addition to our consumer site, Hunter Douglas also sponsors a separate trade-only, password-protected Web site providing our dealers with over 10,000 pages of content and tools to enhance their local businesses: www.dealers.hunterdouglas.com. You can sign up for training seminars, build a customized ad, check current promotions, download hundreds of photos, check prices on the live Reference Guide, read Views magazine and get technical information and review our comprehensive Product Component Guide to highlight just a small portion of the wealth of information that’s there for our dealers, when they want it.
Hunter Douglas also supports the contract and commercial business with a Web site that caters to the needs of architects, commercial designers, developers and owners of commercial properties: www.contract.hunterdouglas.com exposes the wide variety of innovative Hunter Douglas products and services targeted to this important market.
Last, but far from least, Hunter Douglas fabricators have embraced the power of the Internet by creating a very robust electronic ordering and tracking system that provides their dealers with greater accuracy, faster response time for all, while reducing costs for all involved on a 24/7/365 basis.
Hunter Douglas is committed to continuing to use the Internet to attract new consumers to our brand, to supply value-added services and educational tools for our customers, and to explore innovative new ways to make it simpler and more cost effective to do business with us.
IMMEDIATE AND INTERACTIVE
Creative Department Coordinator
ADO has recently launched a brand new Web site, www.ado-usa.com. The new Web site was designed to provide the user with an experience, not just a list of products and where they can be bought. You generate sales on the Web by giving the average user a reason to stay and interact with your site. Current studies suggest that we have about eight to 10 seconds to grab the users’ attention enough for them to stay at our site before they move on to another.
What sets the ADO site apart from others is it’s interactivity. Immediately the user finds that they have arrived at a site that is not static, it moves, plays music and generally invites the user to explore. There are a lot of valuable tools on the site, and it is one of the best support tools that we have for our new World of Styles concept. Not only can you view each of the four styles on the site, but also, you have the opportunity to view videos of the styles, read background information and view still images. Beyond that, you can get in-depth information about our Smart Fabrics line including ActiBreeze and BioProtect. You can find information on ADO’s history, products and services offered and even employment.
Customers can order directly from the site, as well. Once you become an ADO customer you will be given a user name and password that allows you to place orders and look through our 2006 catalog online via PDFs of each section of the book. We will be adding to this section of the site in the future to provide tools for are customer to make the process of ordering fabric from ADO as simple as possible.
The ADO Web site is part of our advertising and marketing budget. A Web site has to be in your budget in today’s market where information is so readily available online. One of the first things a potential customer will do is search for you on the Internet to see what they can learn before contacting a company to carry their line.
Still, the ADO Web site has not replaced more traditional methods of advertising. The ADO site is a support piece in our marketing campaign, as is magazine advertising. You have to use both of these methods to more fully connect with your customers. You can no longer deny the power of the Internet, but you cannot use it as a replacement for other, and sometimes more appropriate, advertising methods.
MANAGING BUSINESS ONLINE
Gulf Coast Window Covering
Gulf Coast Window Covering’s Web site, The Channel, is used to promote business in several ways. And, because it is always the most current source of information for our dealers, it enables them to run their businesses more efficiently and effectively.
Not only can dealers place, track and pay for their orders online at The Channel, but dealers also can manage the following business tasks:
• Quote an entire house of windows with different products in just a few clicks.
• Manage and store their customer database online.
• Quote their customers using margin, markup or cost factor.
• Customize their quotes by adding a logo.
• Manage and customize the information they want additional employees to view.
In addition, when dealers logon to The Channel, they are able to view the latest news and information concerning promotions, new products, product tips/updates, training and more. It is a great resource for posting information that needs to reach dealers quickly and is used either in place of or in addition to traditional mailings.
The Channel online dealer resource center is a part of the Gulf Coast advertising budget. Several incentive promotions are offered throughout the course of the year for dealers who place their orders online.
PORTAL TO IMFORMATION
At Norman Shutters® we leverage the Internet to communicate powerfully with existing and prospective customers in a way that streamlines and accelerates our business.
Our customer Web site features an indispensable ordering and tracking tool that our distributors and fabricators use to manage their accounts.
Our public Web site at www.normanshutters.com educates and informs trade and consumer inquirers about our product and service advantages. It is a portal for many of our initial contacts and a complete information resource for anyone who wants to learn more about our company, products and community activities.
We feel that customers have come to expect immediate access to credible marketing materials and the Internet helps us deliver our compelling messages. It is an effective way for us to communicate our passion for shutters and what has defined us in the window covering industry. In addition, shutters and window coverings design is an extremely visual medium. Through our photo gallery and literature we illustrate the timeless beauty that shutters bestow upon a home.
For example our new 28-page Sussex® Shutters Consumer Booklet is available for downloading on our public site. In addition to many illuminating images it explains some of our unique processes like Prescription Wood Conditioning™, engineered reinforced stiles, hand finishing and our exclusive use of quarter-sawn louvers. We feel that immediate access to our high-impact marketing materials and stunning images helps customers make informed decisions about their shutter purchases.
RESPONDING TO CUSTOMER NEEDS
Director of Marketing
Royal Window Coverings
A new look and exciting new Web-based services including online ordering are just around the corner at www.royal windowcoverings.com.
Now even easier to navigate, the Royal Window Coverings Web site upgrade contains business-to-business information on products and programs and is designed primarily to meet the needs of fabricators and retailers with an additional site built specifically for contractors.
Online ordering, set to launch this month, is the result of a successful information management system upgrade and high demand from a number of Web savvy Royal partners. This new service will be available in addition to traditional forms of ordering and will provide customers with the option to place and track orders online.
An interactive dealer locator to be launched in May is designed to drive the end-user to independent dealers of Royal products. Consumers will have access to the local dealer’s address and Web site.
Royal Window Coverings has operated a company Web site since May 5, 2004. The site has been in addition to traditional marketing tools and has proven to be an excellent source of news dissemination. It also serves as a great resource center by providing customers and prospective customers with online catalogs in every product category for easy access to styles, colors, warranties and item numbers.
Royal continues to track the advancements in Web-based technology and aims to provide customers with a number of new services in the future.
Evan Marsh Designs
Evan Marsh Designs relies heavily on its Web site to promote its products and services. Since our major product, DreamDraper®, is a visual one, the Web site provides a great opportunity to showcase the features and capabilities of this computer-based design system. From the very beginning we have used a variety of features to provide information and to stimulate visitor interest including animation, online demos, an online user forum and support, links to and from other sites, and Webinars. And, our products and Webinars cater to both PC and Mac users.
More recently we introduced DreamDraper® Quick Quote™, which has rapidly become the industry benchmark for estimating window treatments. Extensive use of online capabilities, including Web site demos and Webinars, contributed greatly to the successful introduction and commercialization of this amazing system.
The Web site is easily updated and has the advantage of being available every hour of every day, serving users of all types. Last year we added a commerce piece for online ordering that not only has increased sales but has greatly simplified our order entry and fulfillment process.
In recent years our Web site and other online advertising opportunities have become a key part of the DreamDraper marketing plan. Just as with print, some approaches are more effective than others, and one must carefully evaluate the value of each initiative. We still place significant print ads, but there’s no doubt that our Web site and other online applications will continue to play an increasingly important role.
Director of Marketing, Customer Support and IT
Elmar Window Fashions
Elmar Window Fashions believes there has been, and will continue to be, a shift in the number of customers that prefer to manage their accounts online and receive electronic communications. Computer literacy, availability of services and promotions, broadband access and ease of use all contribute to a growing trend for online services. With close to half of overall sales transmitted electronically, Elmar continues to enhance its offering.
Elmar recently launched a redesigned and more robust Web site, www.elmarwindowfashions.com, for both prospective and current customers. With many new features, customers are now able to view expanded content, manage their accounts electronically and stay current with the growing number of programs and services provided. The Web site also serves as a gateway to various online tools made available by Hunter Douglas.
The support pages offer an exclusive Knowledge Base, with hundreds of commonly asked questions and solutions driven from previous inquiries. This dynamic tool allows both employees and customers to view the same information on a highly diverse and technical product range. Customers can view installation instructions, parts diagrams and repair information. Available for ordering are parts, sales aids and merchandise, as well as discounted products.
The Resource Center section of the site is designed to allow customers to manage their accounts with Elmar 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Quoting, order processing, order status, sales reporting, payment online and submitting requests directly to Customer Support are all available online.
Elmar also has been communicating with customers electronically through e-mail marketing efforts to announce promotions, product specification changes and company announcements. Dealer segments are established to target-market specific customers, as well as to distribute newsletter-type content.
AWARENESS AT ALL LEVELS
Eclipse Shutters by Vinylbilt
The brand new Eclipse Shutters by Vinylbilt Web site, www.eclipseshutters.com, promotes business by building brand awareness and product knowledge at all levels from the consumer to within our own industry. Our consumer-oriented site is designed to provide features and benefits of our product as well as a visual experience where consumers can imagine how their homes will look and feel with Eclipse Shutters on their windows.
Although our site does not incorporate e-commerce or order entry today, it does offer unique features for our dealers/designers and our fabricators. Eclipse Shutter dealers can login to the site to access more detailed product information and selling tools. Fabricators also have their own login area featuring valuable resources to help maximize their Eclipse Shutter business.
Our new Web site is a very crucial part of our advertising plan. The Internet is an outlet that consumers, dealers/designers and fabricators all utilize daily. Having one medium through which we can reach all three of these target markets is extremely valuable. The creation of the Eclipse Shutters Web site has not replaced our traditional marketing efforts such as trade advertising. However, it does impact our planning and execution of other marketing programs including direct mail, collateral materials and some consumer-oriented marketing. The Eclipse Shutters by Vinylbilt site will continue to be a very integral part of our marketing and advertising plans for the future.
MULTIPLE SITES, UNIQUE PURPOSE
Internet Marketing Manager
We have three Web sites: www.comfortex.com, www.comfortexdealers.com and www.blindcrafter.com. Each site serves a unique purpose.
Comfortex.com is our corporately branded site and targets both consumers and dealers. It is used to promote the Comfortex brand and our window fashions features and benefits to potential customers. It is also used as a recruitment tool for potential dealers.
Comfortexdealers.com is our password-protected dealer site. It allows dealers access to all types of product information including price lists, fabrication instructions, new dealer programs, tech bulletins, marketing programs and our online shopping cart.
Blindcrafter.com is our consumer site to promote and build the Comfortex BlindCrafter brand. Not only does it educate consumers on the features and benefits of Comfortex Window Fashions, but it also promotes the service benefits of shopping with a Comfortex BlindCrafter dealer.
Comfortex.com and blindcrafter.com feature a customer club. Consumers are able to register, providing their personal information in exchange for product literature. During this registration process, customers tell us which products they are most interested in and we can then target them accordingly. We market to these potential customers twice a month through e-mail campaigns.
Our Web sites feature a host of interactive tools. For consumers, we have the Virtual Decorator and Photo Gallery. The Virtual Decorator allows a consumer to select a room setting and product and then paint the colors of the walls and trim and select the product color. This provides a great view of the product before they purchase. The Photo Gallery allows customers to alternate between whole room scenes and product detail images for a better understanding of Comfortex products.
For dealers, our site features online training programs that are product specific as well as a comprehensive shopping cart for fabricated and distributed orders. Dealers are also provided with a variety of product photos for download in either Web or print formats.
Our consumer based Web sites are part of our advertising budget. We have been able to use online advertising programs to attract higher quality, lower cost leads.