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Distribution Software and the Internet
It may not be Kansas, but theres no place like the Internet - at least when it comes to business opportunities. Either in addition to, or in lieu of, a physical storefront, using the Internet can boost sales dramatically; it can provide and maintain the competitive edge that makes the ultimate difference in a sellers bottom line.

More and more companies are taking advantage of the unique benefits an Internet based business site provides, but many have been reluctant to take the leap into a different way of doing business. For those who have not yet changed their traditional way of thinking, now may be precisely the right time.

Why? Consumers want convenience. They want 24-hour access, the ability to pay online, and the ease of shopping from home or work without ever leaving their desks or easy chairs. Customers desire that which is handy and easily obtainable. This is what Internet shopping can provide.

The convenience added by Internet distribution doesnt just benefit the consumer. It provides the seller with some very real benefits as well. For example, if the customer enters his or her own order into a fully integrated distribution software back-end, the seller saves money that would otherwise be spent on staff, telephones, paper supplies, and a lot of other costs of doing business. Customers can also check their order status online, further reducing personnel time and costs. Service representatives are able to devote their efforts to increasing sales and growing market share.

Electronic buying and selling means that the sales cycle is shortened considerably. Orr processing, inventory control, payment processing - all can be more quickly and easily tracked with good distribution software. Inventory levels can actually be reduced, in many cases, since a distributors need to keep stock on the shelves is reduced. Often, a distributor can take advantage of financial incentives offered by suppliers for electronic orders. Communication processes are not only faster, but written records are automatically retained in the system.

Participation in an Internet trading network can streamline interactions between manufacturers, distributors and customers even further. An Internet trading network allows a distributor to relay and electronic request to a number of trading partners at once. For example, if an item that a customer is trying to order is out of stock, broadcasting an instantaneous request to a network of trading partners can locate additional merchandise in a fraction of the time required to do so by telephone. In many cases, answers from the trading partners pop up on the computer screen within a few seconds, rapidly accelerating customer service. Trading networks equal integrated supply, which leads to customer satisfaction and increased sales.

Internal company communications can be further enhanced by means of an Intranet. Employees can share resources, news, reports and other essential information via an Intranet, cutting down on the need for forms, inter-office memos, and other paper-based communications. Because the portals are web-based, but accessed only by internal employees, they are secure. By the same token, they can be used for communications whether personnel are in offices down the hall or half way across the country, using laptops, web phones, or PDAs. Intranets can be used, not just for email communications, but for secure posting of a companys information and files.

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