A B2B eCommerce solution lightens the load for a global manufacturer’s marketing team.
By Laurie Hileman
Josh Puryear was nervous.
The senior marketing specialist for STEMCO watched as a fully loaded 18-wheeler pulled away with his company’s entire inventory of sales and marketing literature. It was traveling from Texas to Michigan where it would be cataloged, warehoused, and used to populate a B2B eCommerce solution that would streamline distribution to the vehicle components manufacturer’s global sales force.
Would the unwieldy collection be too much to handle for the Michigan operation? Would the materials be ready for online ordering and fulfillment when the sales force needed them?
Puryear notes that he was astonished to learn that the entire load was inventoried and accounted for in just four days. “It (the cataloging, warehousing, and printing and distribution capability) was much less painful than I imagined,” he says with a small laugh. He soon discovered there were even more pleasant and profitable surprises ahead.
STEMCO, a division of EnPro Industries, Inc., is an international commercial trucking components manufacturing company with headquarters in Longview, Texas. The company makes everything from seals, bearings, and brakes to new TrailerTails® that save truckers nearly 10 percent on fuel costs.
For years, STEMCO used a local print vendor to produce all of its sales and marketing literature, delivering materials in bulk to the company’s Longview facility. From there, marketing staff added product catalogs and other collateral to routine outgoing shipments to their global sales force as these items were ordered.
The pallets of marketing materials took up valuable space on the manufacturing floor, plus managing huge box loads of printed items—and shipping them out to multiple worldwide locations as orders were received—had always been cumbersome and time consuming for staff.
Puryear says that at times old and obsolete literature would resurface (and find its way into circulation) if the most recent materials were not clearly marked. And while a certain amount of overstock was to be expected considering STEMCO’s steady growth and acquisitions, out-of-date material “happened more often than I would have liked,” recalls Puryear.
STEMCO’s marketing team started looking for a smarter system. They wanted a B2B eCommerce solution, “kind of like Amazon,” says Puryear, to streamline their ordering, printing, distribution, and storage of all sales and marketing materials.
Following a careful bidding process that included their existing print vendor and other suppliers, STEMCO selected The F.P. Horak Company in Saginaw, Michigan, a full-service print and marketing communications services provider, for their web-to-print and warehousing needs.
“They promised us analytics, lower prices, and a smarter [literature-managing] solution,” says Puryear. “They promised on all three fronts, and they really delivered.”
The F.P. Horak team created a B2B eCommerce solution where STEMCO sales team members across the globe can order product catalogs, marketing posters, sales fliers, print-on-demand items, static items, warehouse stock, and business cards with point-and-click ease.
And even though STEMCO uses a separate vendor to produce company wearables, an online ordering link blends seamlessly with the web-to-print function for simplified access.
A host of reporting features allows Puryear to track what individual salespeople order, record how much they order, and identify gaps where additional sales opportunities may exist. He relies on Fred Zingg, his F.P. Horak sales consultant, to closely monitor store inventory and make recommendations on how and when to restock web-to-print and warehoused items.
“Him keeping an eye on it frees me up to do other things,” says Puryear.
“The biggest deal [on this partnership] is that we saved even more money than we anticipated,” says Puryear.
As an example, he notes the significant cost savings STEMCO has realized as a result of batching print runs together and adjusting order quantities based on Zingg’s recommendations. And managing and moving around sales literature no longer monopolizes Puryear’s time.
Gone are the days of new salespeople trying to remember literature codes or accidentally ordering the wrong thing on their old system. The B2B eCommerce solution is always stocked and ready to go so orders can ship immediately.
And Puryear appreciates the value-addeds he receives as a result of the business partnership that go beyond traditional printing, too.
“Fred’s offered solutions like mailings, other creative pieces, and pop-up banners that we use for trade shows.” It’s this proactive approach [to meeting marketing communications needs] coupled with technology-based solutions that has attracted the attention of some of STEMCO’s sister companies as well.
“The whole B2B eCommerce solution is a win for STEMCO,” says Puryear.