by Suzanne Brown
Do you remember a time not too long ago when computers were only in science-fiction movies? Can you recall the days when webs were merely homes for spiders and when windows were simply a standard architectural feature? If so, you must be like me, learning new definitions for an ancient vocabulary that future generations will study in a course titled, "After-Dinosaur Age History."
Today, we have new meanings for old words, due in large part to the New Economy which has evolved out of the information superhighway, or Internet. Here are some scoops about the Internet phenomenon: the Internet is doubling in usage every forty-five days... E-mail outnumbers regular mail by ten to one...The Internet has grown from a 380 billion dollar service to a 3 trillion dollar industry, according to Forrester & Associates....More than 80% of all companies believe they will participate in e-commerce in the future....It's 95% cheaper to provide information, services and products over the Internet. For these reasons and more, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal introduces a new column about Internet technology. We know you either probably have a Web site or are in the process of creating one customers will visit. We also know many of you are taking advantage of e-commerce and selling your products and services over the Internet. For our first column, we decided to leap onto the superhighway and share several business strategies currently in place within our industry.
To start, we interviewed a coffee and tea manufacturer, a grower, an importer, and a technology company. Each company interviewed has a different e-business strategy and method of execution. As it turned out, all three strategies involve business-to-business (B2B) applications. Café Britt, our grower, targets business-to-consumer (B2C) on their Web site, but has a wholesale B2B operation as well.
As the largest supplier of private brand coffee and tea products in Canada, Mother Parker's Tea & Coffee, Inc. is also a private-brand supplier to six of the top 10 supermarket chains in the U.S. They have grown into a multinational organization with annual sales of over $200 million with 300 employees spread out across two Toronto and two New York facilities. They also have a roasting facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Harry Hastilow is the director of information technology for Mother Parker's and is responsible for their online operations. "Our strategy is to give the Mother Parker's story an identity and establish who we are and what we do," said Hastilow. "We want to enhance our customer relationships and offer them the opportunity to order through the Internet," he continued. In addition to maintaining private label customers, Mother Parker's' markets to foodservice clients that include hotel, restaurants, and major distributors. Their order entry site is placed in their portal, or their cyber point of connection, at www.mother-parkers.com, is an easy way for customers to purchase the things they need.
While the process for ordering is easy for the customer, the technology behind such a system is quite complex. The support of a digital solutions company is a key part of a company's online success. Mother Parker's entrust their site's e-commerce technology to Ironside Technologies. A privately held company, Ironside Technologies is headquartered in Pleasanton, California with sales offices throughout North America, Canada, and Europe. The company's target market includes manufacturers and wholesale distributors. Ironside is a highly focused electronic commerce solution provider that designs, develops, and markets innovative sell-side B2B e-commerce software products.
Commenting on information technology (IT) products developed for Mother Parker's, Derek Smyth, c.o.o., Ironside Technologies said the objective was to provide a product that would increase customer service, increase revenue, decrease costs, and better serve their customers. As a result, if you click on Mother Parker's e-commerce page, there is an entire section on how to place, check, review, and pay for orders. Ironside has even developed a demonstration, placed on Mother Parker's site, that will walk non-techies through the process.
Ironside Technologies makes it easy for prospects seeking IT products to review an assortment of interactive demonstrations on their site at www.ironside.com. Being able to experience these IT products helps you determine whether they meet your company's strategy. For even more details on products, you can download product and industry literature for your files.
Smyth refers to these products as "implementation technology." While these products work well for manufacturers, importers have other concerns. Currently, there is not a system in place for moving bags and containers of green coffee through the Internet, but there is a need for promoting your company and providing customers with information about offerings.
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