1. Glenn give us your elevator pitch for ViewGuard.
Luckily we have never required any outside funding so I have never created a polished elevator pitch. In short, I am working to build Intelligen into the next Belkin or Targus offering a full suite of accessories for smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and TVs. The ViewGuard® brand was started to destroy the 3M monopoly on the optical filters space and we have done a great job improving the quality of products customers can buy and have driven down the prices to make the ViewGuard® Anti-Glare Privacy Filter more affordable to consumers.
2. You are in a unique position in that you work with a lot of large institutions like government agencies, non-profits, academia, etc. What has been your experience working in those industries?
It is great working with these types of institutions. To a certain degree, government entities are their own separate segment with convoluted procurement and billing procedures. We always appreciate the government relationship so we offer them the best prices and service in order to continue to build the relationship. In the end, working with government entities is usually worth it as you know you are going to get paid… eventually. Academic and non-profit institutions are a little more straightforward. Purchase Orders as a payment type are pretty normal and we use Ultracart to manage that process. One real benefit we have found is to use the Ultracart Customer Profile to automatically fax a PDF of the invoice once the order has shipped using Trustfax's email-to-fax feature. This saves us tons of time.
3. If someone wanted to start selling to those large institutions, what instructions would you give them?
I am not an expert in this area. It is often easiest to market to the institutions so they are willing to help you through the procurement red tape. If they want your product then they will help get you into any databases that you need to be in for payment. Trying to push product on them is a lot harder.
4. Glenn you offer customers a wide range of options from purchase orders, pre-orders, quotes, etc. Why do you provide so many options?
We have a pretty fast moving product portfolio so preorders are pretty important to us because everyone knows when the next Apple iPhone is coming out and they want to order a corresponding ViewGuard® product. Preorders help our customers get their product as soon as they have their new device. It also helps us manage that relationship by taking the order and only sending it for processing when the item becomes available. Nobody likes to be charged before shipment and I hate it when it happens at Intelligen due to inventory miscounts or other situations.
As for quotes and purchase orders, the two features within Ultracart go hand-in-hand. The quote feature allows individuals or big companies to get a final price they might need to either make a purchasing decision or process a Purchase Order internally for them to place an order.
5. Speaking of going to a lot trouble, you ship to a lot of places internationally and you do it well. Can you help us understand some of the thought processes you employ when deciding how to move into new international areas?
From the beginning we always had a number of international orders but we weren't really set up to manage those cost effectively for our customers. In 2012, we went through an entire process redesign to take advantage of the ViewGuard® brand in order to sell internationally. We put together a process to automate required customs forms, better pack international shipments using custom boxes, and partnered with companies such as XPO Mail to offer lower cost door-to-door international shipping with tracking. This has helped us sell a lot more product to customers outside the USA because we can offer competitive shipping costs.
6. As one of the most active member's of our Peer-to-Peer Forum you are constantly pushing innovation and engagement through all levels of our organization and getting some great ideas pushed through in the meantime. Why spend the time in the forum when you have so many other places to spend your time?
First, I really like helping other merchants. Second, a fruitful discussion among merchants is extremely valuable to us as an online seller. I put effort into the peer-to-peer forms in order to continue to create value for others and us. Personally, I think the peer-to-peer forums are a great way to generate ideas and find solutions. It is also a great source about learning what other merchants are doing and using their example as a case study for ViewGuard.com.
7. Is there anything that you would like to share with your fellow UltraCart colleagues on how to take advantage of UC?
UltraCart can be as complex as you want it to be and there are often little tricks you can implement on the configuration side to do just about anything. It usually requires you to think outside the box. Using Trustfax as an email-to-fax solution has been a great timesaver for us. We also use cloned themes to manage additional automated email workflows that aren't standard in Ultracart including Payment Declined Notices, Purchase Order Required Emails, Payment Overdue Notices, and Confirmation Requests for Preorders.
8. Finally any parting words for the good of your fellow merchants?
I would love to host and/or arrange the first ever Ultracart Merchant Meetup--either in-person or virtually. Outside the peer-to-peer forums there isn't a lot of direct connection between merchants and I believe we as merchants (and UltraCart) could benefit from each other.