Retooling for a global e-market.

Author:Belden, Bruce
Position:Brief Article

Provide quality products, when and where they are needed, and at an affordable price--this traditional imperative is still the primary challenge faced by manufacturers today Achieving these objectives, however, has been complicated by two key business developments of recent time: the Internet and globalization.

The 'Net is changing our business in a number of ways. Take distribution for example. While we continue to work with our traditional distribution network, we cannot ignore emerging e-commerce initiatives such as Covisint, the purchasing and information exchange being formed by the automakers. As customers such as car manufacturers and their parts suppliers move a significant portion of their purchasing activities to the 'Net, it is our duty to respond. Cutting tool providers must have comprehensive and coherent plans for meeting this challenge or be left out.

E-commerce, however, will not obliterate traditional cutting tool distribution networks. Countless small and mid-size shops across North America look to the personal, application-specific expertise that only skilled distributors and manufacturers' representatives can provide. You will not find this knowledge in any database.

But here, too, the 'Net can play a positive role. Carboloy, like other cutting tool providers, regularly produces tons of catalogs, updated every few months, as well as product bulletins and brochures which are produced even more frequently. Nobody in our business is complaining about this-- users need full and accurate product and application information to make optimum use of the cutting tool innovations that come from our R&D labs.

The problem, though, is that there is always a delay between the time that product and application information is finalized and the time it is typeset, printed, shipped, and distributed. In some instances, information has already been supplanted by newer discoveries by the time it gets to the enduser's hands.

We have been using new communication technology to address this problem. Customized and timely product information addressed to specific needs, transmitted and printed electronically, is helping us keep costs down while allowing our field representatives to serve their customers better.

The 'Net will enhance other aspects of our inter- and intra-business communication as well. An FAQ (frequently...

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