Setting up a Web site from scratch with a team of Internet-illiterate staff is a big ask at the best of times. When the site is designed to serve more than 3000 users, the task becomes infinitely more difficult.
Some time ago, Tech Pacific considered setting up an electronic data interchange (EDI) network. After mulling the idea over, it instead decided to develop a Web site with the same, or similar, capabilities as EDI.
What resulted is Tech Link (www.techpac.com.au), a closed site with specific information for Tech Pac's resellers that was developed by a team of novices.
Tech Pac's marketing communications manager Fiona Stewart played a large role in developing the site. She had no previous experience with designing for the Internet, but her goal was clear: to create a new communication tool for Tech Pac's customers. The company could not afford to cut corners with design or functionality. And Stewart believes that's what it's achieved.
"It's a true business site. It is a much more effective way for users to communicate with us and us with them," Stewart said.
Stewart added that the feel of the site is functional, streamlined and easy to use. It's a combination of static pages and those created "on the fly", or individualised for each customer.
Tech Pacific has approximately 14,000 products listed on the site and each has a complete range of information.
And this is the main feature of the site. When each customer has a different price structure, a number of systems must be integrated to produce accurate results.
The difficulty here was combining Tech Pac's Unix-based database with HTML, then applying pricing matrices for each customer and presenting the results in a reader-friendly form.
And a little bit more
The site additionally displays actual stock levels and the status of orders, both current and back orders.
Stewart says the site also shows "true estimated time of delivery" for all orders. And all of this information is updated every 20 minutes.
There are 2750 registered users of the site, which means Tech Pac customer service representatives and account managers can spend more time solving problems and ferreting out new business. And when you consider the site received 123,000 hits in one week, that's a hell of a lot of phone calls that don't have to be taken.
No wonder the site has now grown into Tech Pac's most important communication tool.