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Investigating E-Commerce for Screen Printers

(December 2006) posted on Tue Dec 05, 2006

Screen operations are increasingly taking advantage of secure and efficient product purchasing on the Web.


By Drew Mangione

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Buying products online is old hat for most Internet users. Amazon.com has been selling books for more than ten years, and eBay.com, the world-wide yard sale and auction house, has been around almost as long.

However, in the world of screen printing, selling online is a relatively new trend. Business-to-business commerce has been slower to embrace the technology than retail, but it is catching up fast. Pioneering brick-and-mortar industrial distributors such as Grainger (www.grainger.com) have successfully proven that, even in B2B, if you build an online store, they will come.

The rise of e-commerce in the screen industry

The growing trend toward online sales that retail consumers have experienced in recent years is beginning to show up among manufacturers and distributors serving specialty graphics producers. One example is Nazdar SourceOne, which launched its new e-commerce site, www.sourceoneonline.com, at the end of the first quarter of 2006. The site offers the company's complete line of products for screen and digital printing, along with downloadable MSDSs and technical-data sheets. Peter Walsh, vice president and general manager for Nazdar SourceOne, says that the response to the site has been overwhelmingly positive.

"What's happening in e-commerce is affecting all businesses," Walsh says. "Screen printing is adopting this technology like all of business."

Graphic Solutions Group (GSG) in Dallas, TX, has been selling products online for about five years at www.gsginet.com, but an overhaul of the site is in the works to offer more products and information, according to company President Mark Granberry. "It's another way to market your company, but it's also not a cheap endeavor to get all of the software systems," he says. "It's not just that you have to build it. You have to maintain it and keep it fresh."

Granberry notes that many screen-printing-supply distributors initially jumped out on the Internet with Websites that essentially amounted to cyberspace business cards, telling potential customers what phone number to call for a catalog. It took some time for these companies to start selling products online.

That delay allowed the Internet to open the door for newcomers. In just a few years, 25-year-old Ryan Moor has gone from selling a press here and there to running Ryonet Corp., a multi-million-dollar screen-printing-supply company based in Vancouver, WA. The company sells almost exclusively through its Website, www.silkscreeningsupplies.com.


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