What will the future bring? Many reps are checking their crystal balls searching for the answers on how the Internet will impact them. Will the manufacturers' representative be "Amazoned" by the World Wide Web? Or can we use electronic commerce to dramatically increase our sales?
There is no simple blueprint for how reps can use electronic commerce. Or simple answers to what risks the Internet might portend for reps.
Is there a model that would help predict where electronic commerce might displace reps? Or where reps might benefit from electronic commerce? Using Rackman's customer types, it's possible to see why some companies are using reverse auctions and trying to eliminate reps. Product/Channel types show different opportunities where reps might take advantage of electronic commerce.
There are immediate applications for electronic commerce, especially between reps and their manufacturers. Reps can participate in EDI transactions between customers and manufacturers. Plus there is a real opportunity for cost savings using EDI to receive invoice copies and commission information. The World Wide Web offers some interesting customer service opportunities that will be demonstrated.