The Internet is changing the metals business. Are you changing with it?
Imagine for a moment the world without the Internet. For many of us, this is not an unfamiliar feeling. Ten years ago, life without a high-speed connection was a reality. Checking your banking information meant having to physically go to the bank. Changing your flight itinerary meant a headache at the airport. What once was a troublesome fact of life today seems almost alien. Replace your Facebook with your phonebook, YouTube with a megaphone, and you begin to see how much the world has transformed. If the Web has led to such a profound improvement in our daily lives, then why is the metal service center industry still stuck in the Stone Age?
Many service centers have left the structure of their businesses unchanged, while other industries have embraced the technological revolution. Rather than simply using the Internet as a form of virtual advertising, forward-thinking competitors are actually marketing products online. Along with such online marketing comes an active involvement with social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Use of these social media outlets will lead to a more technologically savvy owner with a better understanding of what is really going on in the metals industry. This trend is advancing quickly, and if you and your business don’t embrace the change, you will be left behind.
Few people truly understand how social media relates to the service center industry. Imagine a large dry erase board in your company’s break room. You may not use it every day, but when you need to communicate an important message to all your employees, it works pretty well. Now imagine the break room is the World Wide Web and the dry erase board is your social media. With a click of the button, you can deliver an important message to every one of your customers. It’s hard to find a successful company that isn’t actively involved in social media today.
Today’s technology has advanced far enough so that the Internet can be used not just as a billboard, but as a tool to improve relations with customers. Utilizing an advanced Web portal focusing on self-service allows customers to view information like open orders, accounts receivable aging and mill test reports, with access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What once required a phone call, an e-mail or a fax can now be handled in seconds.
Web applications can improve your business today by sidestepping the human element and allowing customers to move straight to the information they need. Giving customers the independence to research orders on their own time will lead to a direct savings in your service center’s support costs. With the increased use of mobile technology, web-based databases are becoming the standard.
Use of the Internet is growing at breakneck speed. Keep track of the number of times you must enter a password to access information online and you will quickly see how integrated our lives and the Internet have become. There is no longer any excuse for remaining behind the times. Your customers demand more from your business, and this is the change they are seeking. Embracing social media and web-based solutions is the easiest way to improve your customer relationships and your business structure.
[Embracing social media and web-based solutions is the easiest way to improve your customer relationships and your business structure.
] Editor’s note: This article was contributed by the experts at Enmark Systems.
Enmark Systems Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., offers the Eniteo full ERP system designed specifically for metals service centers. For more information, visit www.enmark.com