Industry Outlook: The Best Value For Less

marchuk AutomationDirect has always tried to provide the ‘best value' to our customers, and this economy has forced us to evaluate ways to do even better. On nearly every front, we have taken some measures to help our customers economically.

For example, last year, we embarked on an accelerated product launch program—and introduced more than 1500 new products over the past 12 months. This includes moving into new product areas such as standard duty A.C. induction motors, pneumatics and process control sensors. Small- to medium-size customers particularly benefit as our prices are the same regardless of quantity purchased. That means smaller users won't suffer a price penalty if they don't qualify for the type of corporate or large-user discounts sometimes offered in more traditional suppliers' pricing structures. We do other things to support our customers, too—regardless of the economy.

Helping you do more for less

  • Carrying costs & cash flow: OEMs, users or systems integrators don't need to tie up their funds to inventory our products—or order them in advance. Our 98% order fill rate and same-day shipping is like an "off-site inventory," readily available when the need arises.
  • Shipping costs & taxes: We offer free shipping to customers for purchases over $300; since we are a direct business with one national location, customers in states other than Georgia do not pay state and local sales tax. These two factors can reduce a customer's final order cost by 5-20%.
  • Development, service & maintenance costs: Technology products, such as PLCs and HMI products, typically require a programming software package. Often, a user, integrator or OEM has to purchase several packages for its staff of developers, programmers and maintenance and service personnel. This can make it difficult for some companies to financially justify an automation project, or for OEMs/Integrators to have required tools for their entire staff. Many suppliers charge thousands of dollars for each programming package, and add annual maintenance fees on top of that. AutomationDirect's most recent PLC and HMI products are configured with free programming software. This saves thousands of dollars for most customers.

    After the sale, some suppliers expect customers to purchase expensive annual technical support contracts in order to use their products. We've not succumbed to bottom-line pressure. We continue to provide free unlimited telephone technical support—which has been top-rated in independent surveys for the last eight years.
  • Training costs: We recently launched two new Websites, called Learn and AutomationTalk. These free sites allow customers to view presentations on initial training, product capability presentations, special features or even simple product basics. Next quarter, we'll roll out a new series of very inexpensive Web-based training modules. These learning tools can reduce the need for expensive off-site or customized training.

Sustainable considerations
Sustainability is not a new concept around AutomationDirect, where we encourage reduced use of resources like paper and packaging. Years ago, we began working with customers to convert to electronic invoices and accounting statements. Today, we maintain our extensive Product Desk Reference on CD and online—and print fewer catalogs—and let customers choose their preference when receiving updates. All manuals are available free online, so customers can refer to or print just what they need. MT

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