Dover company assists in helping online shoppers [York Daily Record, Pa.]
(York Daily Record (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 08--From a desk in Dover Township, Joe Hainey controls your shopping cart.
Online, that is.
It all depends on what clients of his business, Inspire Technologies, want.
Maybe they're looking to optimize searchability of certain products on engines like Google and Yahoo. Maybe they're targeting a specific group of shoppers through multiple Internet marketplaces.
It's complicated -- so complicated, in fact, that the average consumer is probably largely unaware that such a service exists.
To businesses, Inspire Technologies provides a lifeline, determining what you, the consumer, put in your cart versus what gets left behind.
"We serve as the elves that make the Internet retail process work," said Hainey, 52, of Dover Township.
His company, which employs four people, works with the online retail operations of about 20 companies selling a combined 500,000 products.
"UPS delivers the products from your store to the home," he said. "We deliver the products from the supplier to the store in an electronic format."
Today, online retailing involves much more than setting up a storefront to sell products through a company's dot-com.
It's pushing those items from that storefront onto other online retailers, including Amazon and Sears.
It's getting those products noticed on comparison shopping websites such as Google Shopping, Bing, Shopzilla and TheFind.
It's "item intelligence" -- coordinating sales, photos and product descriptions on all Internet marketplaces with a seller's inventory.
"If you sell something and you don't have it, you're going to get a disgruntled customer," Hainey said, "especially for the Christmas season."
Internet retail is a moving target, one Hainey has watched from its inception.
In 1995 -- the same year an American entrepreneur launched Amazon.com -- Hainey saw potential.
He left his job managing consultants at Exel Logistics, a Mechanicsburg supply chain company, to start Hainey Business Systems.
Initially, his company set up networks for business-to-business sales, health care transactions and websites for cellular towers, which allowed engineers with dead spots in radio coverage to view nearby cell towers for possible co-locations.
Average consumers and the businesses they patronized still weren't sold on the idea of online shopping.
Inspire Technologies -- which Hainey started in 2007 -- still sees some of that resistance today.
"There is a culture part of it," Hainey said. "How do they perceive their business Do they want to be selling on Internet It's a valid business model to rather have the face-to-face."
At some point, that valid business model became a problem for Larry Mitton, owner of Intrepid International in New Holland.
His company manufactures equestrian products for more than 1,100 tack shops throughout the United States and Canada at factories in Lancaster County, Taiwan and China.
That personal contact -- making small talk with tack shop owners -- takes up time, which translates to money.
Tack shops, he said, aren't like malls. The average consumer has to drive between 30 to 50 miles to find one.
"Take a look at the cost of gas and what people think their time is worth," Mitton said. "If that tack shop doesn't have what a person wants, they go online to buy it."
Mitton searched for years to find a way to maximize his online presence.
A year ago, he hired Inspire Technologies to manage his online inventory of more than 13,000 products.
This involved putting those items for sale on Ebay, Amazon and through each independent tack shop's website -- a task too daunting for the tack shops themselves, Mitton said.
So far, he's seen the positives, he said, adding that nothing is certain in the ever-changing world of buying and selling online.
"Honestly," he said. "I believe most people getting into this Internet business don't really understand all the facets of it."
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