A couple of years ago, Springfield Paper Company in Springfield, Mo., determined it was time for a technological overhaul.   

 “Our company is 108 years old,” explains Kevin Smith, Springfield Paper general manager.  “Traditionally, in the jan/san business it was about catalogs and notepads. Our computer system was very antiquated. So we brought in ERP software, we equipped our sales reps with laptops and netbooks, with WiFi, so they could access information and place orders from anywhere.”   

In addition to its e-commerce catalog, Springfield Paper also invested in building a mobile website and a mobile app, which the company launched on iTunes about six months ago. 

“It was just something that needed to be done,” Smith says. “Our industry is changing, and we needed to come into the 21st century and jump in front of our competitors.” 

Springfield hired a tech-savvy millennial, Ashley Merritt, to drive the initiative forward. Once the company’s website was redesigned — making it easier for visitors to view on a tablet — it was Merritt who urged the company to go mobile.

“It was conscious; people are always on their phone and we wanted to be able to capture those people who always have their phone on them,” Merritt says. “The big thing we wanted in our app was the ability to communicate with our customers.”

Besides being able to browse or purchase products through the app, customers can also send emails to the company, receive push notifications about an upcoming sale or event, share information over social media, or submit a picture of a carpet stain to a Springfield sales rep, who can then recommend a specific spot-removal product. 

Optimizing sales platforms for mobile use has become a great upselling tool for the company, Smith says. 

“We have recognized that people are ordering more and more on their devices,” Smith explains. “Seventy-percent of people who look up products on the phone end up ordering within 15 minutes. We’ve noticed that if we make it easier for them, the quicker they order from you. Our customers can start ordering in two-to-three clicks.” 

According to Smith, the investment in developing the mobile technology has been worth the initial cost. Mobile sales now make up for about 12 percent of sales. 

“We’ve already seen a return on investment,” Smith says. “We expect to do $4 million (in sales), this year. Our sales increase over the past year is about 20 percent.

“It’s just revamping the whole company.”

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