Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Goodbye, Brick and Mortar. Small Businesses Are Going Virtual! (PowerHomeBiz)

Article from http://www.powerhomebiz.com/News/052009/virtual-store.htm

May 20, 2009 ( PowerHomeBiz ) - San Jose, CA - Usually, if a company shuts its doors forever it’s a bad thing. When ShapiraMedia CEO Isaac Shapira closed his trendy headquarters (complete with all the “dot-com trimmings”), it was actually a sign of prosperity and productivity to come. Isaac is joining thousands of other small businesses in making the transformational leap from traditional “brick and mortar” office and retail space - a move that is paying off huge. He is able to do that by using a business collaboration and communication suite that empowers him to present, meet, and collaborate with customers, partners, and co-workers anywhere in the world. His office is now at home, and anywhere else he roams to with his laptop.

Isaac evaluated a number of solutions that were tested by the Web Conferencing Council (http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com/), and ended up selecting the same product that won the council’s best of class award (VIA3 from http://www.viack.com/) – mostly due to the affordability and richness of features. Brainstorming sessions, sales calls, PowerPoint webinars, file sharing, Audio and Video meetings, and instant communications are all at his fingertips now, making his small company act and look like a much larger entity. The best part is the cost savings; instead of paying $3,750.00 a month for office space, furniture rentals, food and supplies, etc… he now pays around $200 a month. For this 200$, Isaac has enough product licenses to give 10 employees full functionality of the web conferencing suite. His up front cost was zero, because his employees were already using laptops with built-in web cameras and microphones.

And here’s more good news; his customers love it.

First, they love the convenience of meeting and collaborating online. ”We used to make sure that all customer experiences with ShapiraMedia were off the charts productive, creative, and enjoyable for customers,” said Isaac. ”They were drinking espressos, seated in colorful beanbags, with hip music like ‘Kings of Leon’ resonating in the background. The one downside to the meetings, however, was the need for travel back and forth to facilitate in-person face-to-face interaction. That meant an unproductive element to their day, which we can now avoid by conducting these meetings online.”

Secondly, because of the tremendous savings Isaac incurred in his overhead, he is now able to pass those savings along to the customers. This results in ultra-competitive bids that are winning them a steady stream of new business. Neil Woodruff, Viack CEO, said this is a common story with VIA3 users. “The quick productivity and cost saving infusion that happened at ShapiraMedia is something our user base enjoys consistently, and immediately. Because of VIA3’s ease of use, affordability, and near-zero investment costs, businesses are able to turn on a dime from brick and mortar to online powerhouses”.

There are a number of other collaboration features above and beyond straight meetings that help ShapiraMedia. Creative projects are stored, shared, and collaborated on through the included Workspaces. All employees are a click away from each other using Instant Messaging with presence awareness. They brainstorm over images in the included Whiteboard feature. They utilize the included voting and polling feature during company meetings. They are also able to share desktop control with each other for an even higher level of collaboration.

The only thing missing?

“VIA3 doesn’t handle espressos”, laughs Isaac. “As for the colorful beanbags - those are still being used. You can see them in the background during online meetings with ShapiraMedia. Some things will never change.”