Network equipment distributor Anixter has launched a business-to-business Web site aimed at providing an easier way for resellers to purchase and track orders.
Dubbed eAnixter, the site is customised and password protected for individual users within each reseller, so that the range of goods and prices presented are relevant to the profile of the customer. Customers can check the availability of products, specify and calculate pricing based on the length of a particular cable required, check the status of their orders, request assistance or returns, save regular order information and use any number of other tools designed to empower and inform resellers about their dealings with the distributor.
The site is essentially a Web front-end to Anixter's mainframe, updated four times a day and linked to the data of all relevant freight carriers. Resellers are able to access much of the same information as Anixter's own staff.
Anixter national marketing director Murray Baker said the distributor has noted a significant change in working hours and pressures on resellers and wanted to provide a facility whereby a customer can access important, up-to-date information 24 hours a day.
He also noted that resellers were under increasing pressure not to invest too much in inventory, and are keeping less and less stock on their own premises.
Baker was not keen to comment on recent criticism of one of his competitors, Tech Pacific, over their on-line ordering system and the introduction of new fees for small orders, but said charging customers for using the site was out of the question. "We believe it is just another mechanism to access our services, not a revenue generator," he said. "We have no intention of charging our customers to use it."
While the technology behind the site was originally developed by Anixter's US operations, Anixter Australia are using the experience to aid the roll-out of the initiative through the entire Asia-Pacific region, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Phillipines.
Baker is confident that offering a site that goes beyond on-line ordering and can answer the wide majority of a customer's questions will give Anixter an edge on its competitors. "The market will decide [if it is a success], as it always does," he said.