12 April 2012

Just the fax

Andrew Davies Feb 2012

Managing editor Andrew Davies asks why the fax is still the most popular method of communication…


A really interesting debate has been going on this week about something seemingly trivial, just who uses the fax anymore? But delve under the surface and it highlights a long-running issue within the kitchen and bathroom industry - communication and efficiency.


Here at kbbreview Towers, we'd been having discussions about magazine subscriptions, namely the most effective way to communicate how important it is to keep yours up to date.


At kbb Birmingham I had several conversations with distributors who had told me that they still get a significant majority of their retailer orders via the fax. Likewise, I've had retailers telling me that many suppliers still prefer it that way.


So, on the cover of the April issue of kbbreview you probably saw a fax-back subscription form. Within the first three days we had thousands and they're still coming in - seemingly confirming the view that the fax is still the preferred method of communication.


But that's a bit too simplistic. We also had plenty of people (albeit a small minority) contacting us bemused at the idea that we'd even ask someone to fax something in the 21st century.


"Dear Andy," the typical email went. "I am unable to send you back my subscription form as we threw away our fax machine seven years ago...."


So given the alternatives available, is this industry indelibly attached to the fax? And if so, why?


Is it simply that it finds it difficult to get to grips with more complicated technology? That is plausible given some of the showrooms I've visited, but it can't be the only reason. Most people have a reasonable grasp of email, and even if you haven't got a PC in the showroom there's every chance you might have an iPhone or equivalent in your pocket.


While management software like EQ or KBB Connect can vastly improve the ordering and quoting efficiency of a showroom, it takes a little bit of getting used to, so is it simply a case of 'stick with what you know' and 'if it ain't broke don't fix it?'


But with so many retailers and suppliers struggling to find ways to cut costs and overheads, surely streamlining ordering and tracking is one of the first places to look. And, more importantly, how you communicate with your customers is absolutely crucial over the sales and design process, and I can't imagine many of them ask you to fax things to them.


But, on the flipside, the fax is very, very simple. You tick some boxes, you sign your name, you dial a number and off it goes. You get a tangible confirmation that it has been sent and you can forget about it. No attaching files, no remembering passwords and usernames no security issues or data protection. Is it simply less fuss to send a fax?


So what facts am I missing about the fax? Let me know..


Email: andrewdavies@taylistmedia.com

Fax: 020 8515 2006

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