E-commerce is on the rise for manufacturing

E-commerce is emerging rapidly for factory automation and process control products. Internet usage has risen astronomically over the past four years, and it is estimated that the number of Internet users will reach one billion by the year 2005. Looking at current Internet trends, it makes sense that more services are focusing on online consumers.

04/01/1999


E-commerce is emerging rapidly for factory automation and process control products. Internet usage has risen astronomically over the past four years, and it is estimated that the number of Internet users will reach one billion by the year 2005. Looking at current Internet trends, it makes sense that more services are focusing on online consumers.

Until recently, it was difficult to sell goods or services over the Internet, but the boom in web development tools, such as Java, server-side scripting, and secure servers has facilitated the introduction of e-commerce onto the World Wide Web. Nowadays just about anything can be bought via the Internet, including books, CDs, software, clothing, vitamins, airline tickets, and now, automation and control products.

So far, only a few manufacturing companies have set up online stores, but new site announcements keep coming in regularly as more companies sell their products online.

Most recently, PLC Direct changed its name to Automationdirect.com and launched an online superstore for automation products at www.automationdirect.com on March 31. This futuristic site is organized by product type, and keeps a running purchase total on the screen. It also displays in real-time whether a product model is currently in stock and what items shoppers have added to an on-line shopping cart for next-day shipping by as late as 4 p.m. (EST).

Another electronic store to emerge is Honeywell Industrial Automation and Control's Industrial Store, located at www.industrialstore.honeywell.com . Upon entering this virtual store, shoppers can select products based on what needs to be done and collect them into a singular shopping "pallet" which keeps track of everything selected. When shoppers finish selecting, they proceed to the checkout page, where billing information is collected. This information can be given online or sent via fax. Registration with the company's server is required before proceeding to the payment area.

Total Control Online's store at www.total-control-online.com does not require registration. It presents a slightly simpler, but just as effective interface and presentation of products for sale. It also tracks all product selections in one place, and lets shoppers buy everything at once.

MicroTouch has also opened its online store at www.touchstore.com . Here many different styles and prices of touch screen monitors are offered for purchase online. Since this company is more limited in its product offerings, it can concentrate more on individual product modes and details. Registration with the site is required to complete the purchase.

Rounding out the list of automation stores is Transmation, Inc.'s new online catalog at www.transcat.com . Transmation's goal for this site is to not only provide customers with an electronic means of purchasing products, but also offer a number of informational links including technical references, Y2K issues, and discussion groups. Transmation customers with valid accounts can even access their service and certification records from the same site.

Next month: More companies make their e-commerce presence felt, and what is being done to ensure security when making purchases online.


Author Information
Laura Zurawski, web editor lzurawski@cahners.com




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