From: Business To: Business
Subject: Long-heralded as the next big set of Internet opportunities, business-to-business e-commerce is here--and the crystal balls were right; it's big.
It was in late 1998 that Walt Geer, a partner in an Atlanta promotional-products company, faced up to reality. His little business--which sold logo merchandise such as pens and coffee mugs (a.k.a. "trash and trinkets") to companies for handouts to employees and customers-was chugging along OK, but it was just one of about 19,000 promotional-products companies in the country. Plainly put, the 32-year-old's company was lost in that mob. So he decided to take the plunge: He cut the cord on his traditional company, dumped his existing customers and--whoosh!--put his business on the Web as eCompanystore.com.
How did it work out? Well, there were a couple months when things looked grim: "We had no revenues coming in," recalls Geer, "but we had to focus our energies on the Internet, because we didn't have the resources to do it and run our traditional business. Of course, there were scary moments." But business eventually turned around for Geer. "In just a few months, the Internet let us move from being a small company to a national player," he says. "Before, we serviced lots of little accounts. Now we have AutoNation, the country's biggest car dealership, and we're going after more big accounts. The Internet is what let us do that."
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