Is e-commerce at a halt?

Last year, packaging professionals were hit so hard with e-commerce hype that many probably felt that if they didn’t rush out and invest in the latest Internet solutions, their businesses might crumble.

Pw 16807 Halt

But, what has happened now? Has the hype thinned this year? Are online packaging solutions still on the rise? A few answers emerged at the Packaging Solutions Conference, held during Pack Expo Las Vegas 2001. For the e-commerce sessions, a room that would have been filled with attendees last year held less than 20 this year. Conference speaker David Pung, director of information systems at Corrugated Supplies Corp. (Bedford Park, IL), says that it’s partly because all of last year’s hype was never more than that: hype. “People tried to make it look easy [for suppliers to build e-commerce enabled sites],” he says. “In reality, it is a complex process to expose order information to the Web and customers.” So complex, he adds, that only a few sites actually made it possible for visitors to request a quote. According to Pung, one database must communicate to all systems in a methodical process that must extend to the plant floor. “[Packaging suppliers] are finding shortcomings and building new software or rebuilding software to accommodate the Web,” he says. Speaker Keith Nosbusch, president, Rockwell Automation Control Systems (Milwaukee, WI) agrees with Pung. “It takes a lot more than a pretty Web site,” he says. “All inconsistencies are exposed. Companies have to network, connect, and rectify. It is inconsistencies that have slowed down the process.” Despite the setbacks of 2001, both speakers have a positive forecast for e-commerce. As Nosbusch put it, “It’s a just a matter of doing the dirty work.” —E.F.

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