If you type the word ‘Spandex’ into Google, you’ll inevitably be greeted by images of curve-hugging leotards, sexy leggings and see-through tops. But all that has nothing to do with our organization, which happens to share a name with Spandex the fabric (also marketed as Lycra and elastane).
The products we sell are of a different kind altogether: foils, digital plotters, vinyl rolls, banners and printers – anything and everything a graphic designer or sign maker needs to create stickers for displays, decals for windows or lettering for cars. We operate in 14 countries – from Sweden all the way to Australia – and serve around 33,000 customers.
Until recently, we used a traditional sales model and our print catalogue was our bible. Our sales reps carried a copy of this catalogue with them whenever they were out there “pounding the pavement.”
Our customers – the bulk of whom are sign makers, printing companies, exhibition stand designers and advertising agencies – would place their orders by phone. As an online marketer, I couldn’t help but feel we were dropping the ball at that point in the customer journey.
We would create the most fabulous campaigns and send out enticing mail shots to customers, but once we got them interested, they had to pick up the phone if they wanted their product. At that point, we’d lose the link between customer contact and our marketing campaigns. That also meant we had no real idea of the return on our marketing investment. I was dying to get us into e-commerce.
From print to digital
As an organization founded way back in 1976, we can hardly say that “digital” is in our DNA. In fact, our long history makes it more difficult to push through any kind of radical change: you’re up against an ingrained company culture and need to make sure you don’t get crushed under a paper mountain.
But lo and behold, in 2012 we did launch our e-commerce project together with our partners Elision and Delaware, after extensive lobbying within the company. We laid down the groundwork by digitizing all product information and building a database. We then launched our online catalogue, which has been available for all markets since September 2015. We are currently in the middle of launching our e-commerce platform.
Major internal changes
We continue to release a print catalogue – we do two print runs every year when we add new products and update prices. But our online catalogue is a different story altogether. There is a real-time link with the ERP, ensuring that all product information is up-to-date and customers instantly see their discounts factored into the price.
The new set-up has allowed our call-centre agents to hone their skills as bona fide consultants – also known as “inside sales representatives.” Rather than simply crunching numbers, they actually assist their customers in choosing the perfect product for their purposes. And experience has shown that this works a treat – customer feedback couldn’t be more positive.
Our new website is more exciting and looks better than ever. We refuse to accept that our products lack sex appeal – they are sexy! Granted, you can’t really bond emotionally with a vinyl roll, but if you decide to use our products you’re in for a full-color experience. I can tell you that an Audi R8 Coupé looks quite spectacular wrapped in our carbon: you get people staring as you drive past, wolf-whistling, honking their horns… Now that’s the sex appeal of Spandex!