November 1, 2009

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Doug Anderson




Web Services to Streamline Your Business

By Hilary Ingoldsby Whitesides

November 1, 2009

In today’s day and age, the Internet is usually the first place people look for products and information. And businesses are no different. Not only do businesses use the Web to enhance their accessibility, but they also use it to locate marketing and merchandise services. In the past, though, businesses usually had to look several places for each individual service, costing time and other resources. Now though, businesses can satisfy their product, marketing and customer retention needs through local companies bundling several services in one place. From building brand recognition, to strengthening customer retention, to connecting with other businesses, the modern company can build an online presence now with one-stop shopping. From Web to Print Want a customized T-shirt to promote your small business? Salt Lake-based ZenPrint has streamlined the Web-to-print experience for large and small companies. And JD Gardner, co-founder and CEO, says the company is just getting started. As a business executive, JD Gardner noticed the need for a Web-to-print service years ago after running into complications organizing his company’s numerous Web and marketing needs. After finding these tasks to be too time-intensive on his key management team, Gardner realized a need for a print-on-demand Web solution and was determined to create it. With business partner Nate Jensen, Gardner developed software to streamline the Web-to-print process, thus, allowing businesses to create their own customizable print-on-demand Website and print-on-demand products (like marketing T-shirts, etc.) with ease. What started as a Web-to-print business has quickly expanded into an all-inclusive Web presence company with several products. The company’s ZenFront program allows customers to create a Web-to-print storefront and an online catalog. The catalog allows businesses to produce customized items to sell to customers, instead of having to purchase items in bulk. ZenFront also helps companies combine the use of social media outlets with the company’s Website, which allows the company to track the success of its marketing plans. The company’s ZenDirect program focuses on client's marketing needs and increasing customer retention. It allows them to create target-specific marketing campaigns, and easily manage and contact customers. And, with a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require past design experience, ZenStudio allows clients to design custom products, such as T-shirts, hats and other marketing materials. Gardner estimates that about 50 percent of ZenPrint’s customers are Utah-based companies, including nutritional product powerhouse Monavie, which used ZenPrint to create a storefront for customers, and a user-friendly site for employees that is custom fit for the company. “Companies love the software and how customizable it is,” says Gardner. “We are excited to let the business world know what we can do and be an asset to as many companies as we can.” Sweet Online Success Hotcakes is another Utah-based company making the online experience as easy as pie for numerous businesses in the Beehive State and abroad. The company, which was launched in July 2009, connects manufacturers directly to resellers, making the next connection—to consumers—easier and more profitable. Hotcakes’ e-commerce technology links manufacturers, resellers and customers together by providing businesses with Web-based selling tools. Through Hotcakes’ platform, customers can peruse a manufacturer’s Website to find product information, a product catalogue and find local resellers. From the site, customers are routed to the reseller’s site where they can purchase the products directly online or find the reseller’s physical address. Hotcakes does all of the legwork for manufacturers by creating the product catalogues and information sites, while also allowing manufacturers to retain full brand control. Extra add-ons for manufacturers include items such as a reseller locator option, which allows customers to search for resellers by geographic area. “This new creation allows many small businesses—who often have minimal to no online presence—to compete with large corporations at a fraction of the cost,” says Hotcakes founder Skip Klintworth. “Statistics show that 68 percent of general customers and 93 percent of business-to-business buyers now research their purchase online before making it. The Hotcakes platform provides resellers with an immediate Web presence so they can reach potential customers where they are shopping first—online.” Through Hotcakes, resellers automatically stay connected with manufacturers and receive updated product information instantly. Hotcakes also offers resellers extra options to build customer retention, such as the print-a-ticket option, which allows customers to select an item and print a sales ticket (a map to the reseller’s store, the price and an image of the product, and any applicable coupons). Finally, resellers can select a watch-this-item feature, which guarantees return visitors because customers can stay on top of new information, product specials and promotions. The site is managed by Hotcakes, making it so the reseller doesn’t have to add product information or photos. “Ultimately, Hotcakes is designed to assist manufacturers in creating a strong and profitable online presence, while allowing a pleasant shopping experience for their customers,” says Klintworth.
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