YARDLEY, Pa. - Fifteen years ago, when customers started asking Steve Wessinger, president of Richards Equipment, for his fax number, he realized that he needed to buy a fax machine.

Not wanting to be caught short again, Wessinger invested in Prophet 21 B2B Seller two years ago, before his customers started asking for his Web address.

Prophet 21 B2B Seller is designed to provide distributors with a hosted and integrated Web-based storefront solution that services their existing and prospective customers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"No one ever asked us for our URL two or three years ago," said Wessinger. "But that question often comes up in initial conversations today. We're glad we had a B2B Seller site in place before most of our customers requested it." Richards Equipment has been a leading industrial and contractor supply house in central Texas since 1937.

"A Web site isn't just a convenience anymore," said Chuck Boyle, Prophet 21 president and CEO. "Customers expect to be able to enter orders, and check price and availability and account information online. Offering an online storefront can be the difference between winning and losing business."

The B2B Seller site has helped Richards Equipment, a member of Affiliated Distributors, boost sales. "Since everything on the site is broken down by product categories and then subcategories, customers find things they have never purchased from us before," said Wessinger. "Sales have increased a minimum of 10 percent with customers using B2B Seller."

B2B Seller has also helped Richards Equipment collect detailed information about each customer and their sales. "We run monthly reports through the B2B Seller site," said Wessinger. "We look at what the customers view and buy and see the trends. Site traffic is growing every month."

For more information, visit www.p21.com.

Publication date: 11/15/2004