Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Brick-and-Mortar to Click-and-Order

Apple’s recent unveiling of the iPad signifies just another way the digital revolution is transforming business-to-consumer interaction. Demand for a notebook-sized cross between a PDA and laptop is further proof of our desire to access information from anywhere, at anytime. iPads, iPhones, iPods and their peers all make this possible. In response, many businesses are expanding from brick-and-mortar to click-and-order operations.

Take Central Vacuum Experts in Chapel Hill. Google recently named it a “Favorite Place” and sent the company a window sticker with a unique bar code on the lower right corner of the sticker, known as a “QR code.” This instantly connects customers who have smart phones to a mobile version of Google Maps’ Place Page for the business. A “Place Page”is a webpage Google uses to organize all the relevant information about a residential or commercial place: photos, videos, a street view preview, nearby transit, reviews and related websites, for example. You might learn that Central Vacuum Experts’ parent company is Vacuum Cleaner Hospital, and that its tagline is “Essentials for Clean Living.” Or, you might link to information about its third donation of a Riccar canister to Builders of Hope, its upcoming attendance at the American Consumer Show Feb. 19-21, or the indoor air quality benefits of using the company’s products. Google makes this instantaneously possible.

Triangle TRACKS, a social network connecting Triangle parents to “tools, resources and activities for Carolina kids,” operates entirely online to inform parents of Internet-based and brick-and-mortar resources for kids across the region. From bimonthly content updates to contests and newsletters, parents and business owners access Triangle TRACKS’ information online so they can visit the many resources here for kids—from camps and preschools to youth sports leagues and birthday party venues. Right now, for example, Triangle TRACKS is hosting an online contest to award 30 sets of 4 tickets to Broadway Series South’s presentation of “Nickelodeon Storytime Live!” at the Durham Performing Arts Center Feb. 6, as well as one pair of tickets to Carolina Ballet’s presentation of “Cinderella” Feb. 20. Learn more here.

Turning Point Gallery’s recent transition from a Chapel Hill-based brick-and-mortar operation to a virtual online gallery offers proof that no industry remains untouched by digital progress. Owners Jerri and Garry Meldrum are using the gallery’s online presence to attract residential and commercial clients, which makes more in-home and direct commercial office visits possible. Still based in Chapel Hill, the gallery continues to operate with a community leadership perspective.

“All of our chosen artists, no matter how close or how far away they live, are personable and have established a local connection with the community,” said Garry Meldrum. Examples include acrylic painter Simon Bull, who created art for and made numerous visits to Duke University’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center; landscape artist Howard Behrens, who painted nine original works for Duke Gardens; and abstract equestrian and landscape artist Maeve Harris, who relies significantly on the region for equestrian art inspiration. Turning Point Gallery has become one of the nation's foremost Horse Art galleries and Jerri Meldrum is active in local horse rescue.

Some Things Never Change

No matter how advanced the digital world becomes, it takes brick-and-mortar to accommodate click-and-order operations. Triangle-based Bikas Building of North Carolina LLC is now the “Clinic Builder of North Carolina” and has just signed new contracts with Women’s Health Alliance p/k/a Atrium ObGyn and Planet Beach. Bikas Building of North Carolina LLC will construct state-of-the-art clinics for both contracts, as it has for all of its health care, medical and veterinarian clients.

On the subject of veterinarians, The Perseus Foundation works with professionals in the veterinarian industry to educate the public and scientific community about the biologic similarity of cancer in pets and people, and to communicate the ways in which comparative oncology is accelerating the treatment and prevention of cancer. Chapel Hill-based Business Value Creation LLC, a company focused on unlocking the value of hidden assets for entities and individual brands using advanced information flow techniques, is beginning an active awareness campaign in the Triangle on behalf of The Perseus Foundation. Look for updates on that in future posts.

Aside from the Internet, talk radio remains a popular venue for verifying credible resources. National Public Radio’s Car Talk recommends Crossroads European in Durham for Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagon work with 4- and 5-star reviews. Of course, there is an online connection. You can view the reviews here.

Photo credits: Google and Triangle TRACKS

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