The Imagination Factory

The Impact of the Web

May 4th, 2008 by Ted Bailey

It Really IS a Small World…

No, we’re not selling Disney soundtracks now. But, an interesting thing happened to us recently that we wanted to share with you. It illustrates very well how the Web CAN and IS changing how we ALL do business.

On a Tuesday nite recently, we received an email that, at first glance appeared to be junk email. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the email’s author was requesting pricing on custom T-shirts… NOT attempting to sell us shirts. The emailer wanted “something with a print and some words on it”, but provided sparce additional detail. Unfortunately, her ‘reply to’ email address (the one that you originally put in your preferences of your email program) was inaccurate, so it took a little effort that nite to determine the correct one and reply. She was happy that we did as no one else she had contacted had replied.

Doing Business on the Internet, Points 1 & 2:

  • Make sure that your email address are correct, so people can reply.
  • If the email comes back undeliverable, spend a little time trying to locate the customer.
    • In this case, it was a simple matter of reading the email header and/or using a search engine to locate the clients’ service provider.

It seems she had gone to the web search engines to find people that design/produce T-shirts and our name came up. We’ve never directly put any keywords specifically about T-shirts in our web pages but we do describe some that we’ve done for clients. Obviously, various search engines had indexed this information without our direct involvement. She indicated that instead of an initial single order of several hundred, she would order an initial hundred or so in a variety of sizes and colours – and would likely re-order in the same quantities every two weeks.

Doing Business on the Internet, Point 3:

  • It pays to keep your site current.

At any rate, we asked if she had a specific print or picture in mind. She wrote back indicating that she did not, but that anything related to ‘junkanoo parade’ would be just fine with her. So we were left with the question then, “what in the devil is junkanoo?”. Not wanting to appear too non-cosmopolitan and/or ignorant of worldly things, but being male (and, of course, real men, never ask directions, eat quiche, or put the seat down – or so I’m told) I chose to do some web research into this ‘junkanoo’ thing.

Doing Business on the Internet, Point 4:

  • There’s a plethora of information on the web, if you search for and use it.

Armed now with information about the what, why, when and where of ‘junkanoo’, we were able to pull together a design concept and emailed it to her for review. It was immediately approved. Our research, did however, spark other questions, such as:

  • how to arrange for funds transfer,
  • how to ship the product to her,
  • would we need an export license,
  • and a host of other items we generally don’t have to get involved in very often.

Several more clarifying emails passed between us and by Friday, she placed her order and wired us a deposit via Western Union and we finalized the production artwork.

Doing Business on the Internet, Points 5 & 6:

  • Use local sources of information as well like, your bank, shippers, governmental agencies.
  • Double and triple check your work and information – typos are easy and typical in emails.

On Tuesday (one week after the original email request, two days after her order), we boxed up her shirts and headed out for Federal Express. Originally, we were instructed to ship to a maritime shipper, but in order to get the product there BEFORE a holiday, it was determined to ship it direct via FedEx who did service her international location (as does UPS). She had wired the balance of US funds that afternoon. However, this now meant filling out the international airbills (which we had to flag down a FedEx truck driver to obtain) and customs forms. Returning to our offices, we watched her boxes leave Grand Rapids for the hub in Memphis then on to the ultimate destination (appropriately waylaid by customs) all from the FedEx package tracking website.

An email Friday morning (three days later) from our new client indicated that the shirts arrived that night (which I already knew from the FedEx site), that everyone was happy with them (yea!) and she had already sold almost half of her inventory (wow!). The next order is promised NOT to be so rushed…we’ll see. However, now that we understand the process, the next order should be a ‘walk on the beach’.

The point(s) of this little story? Did you hear me just say a ‘walk on the beach’? This client is from a tiny little group of islands about 600 miles Southeast of Miami, about 300 miles east of Cuba – called the Turks & Caicos Islands. The value & benefits of a web presence? It should be obvious, but just in case we haven’t been clear:

  1. The prospect found us despite distance and geography.
  2. We were able to respond timely
  3. We could locate information pertinent to providing a quality solution
  4. The approval process was electronically shortened
  5. Both parties could track the shipping process easily
  6. It requires that both parties trust each other.

The web is having major impact on how (and where) we ALL do business. What is Junkanoo? Do a little “research”.

The Imagination Factory • 15 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 220 • Grand Rapids, MI 49503 • phone: 616.356.CLIK (2545) • fax: 616.356.2546 • email: Contact Us Online

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