Ah, the Internet. Hated, loved, ridiculed, exalted. It's been all that and more over the past few years.

Remember distintermediation? Online merchants were supposed to replace electrical distributors. Didn't happen. Lots of companies went out of business, but they weren't electrical distributors. They were the ones with dot-com at the end of their names.

We heard a lot about the Web in the publishing world, too. Electrical Wholesaling's parent company's former CEO had a vision of how the Internet would be the dominant mode of communication in the business community. Didn't happen either. Today, he doesn't have a job in publishing. Ahead of his time, I guess.

The Web has matured, though, and it's being used as a tool to supplement — not replace — distributor's core business functions. That's the subject of the article, “The Web: A Reality Check,” (page 22).

When people think about what electrical distributors could or should be doing on the Web, they often mistakenly think first of online purchasing. This seldom is what your customers want. As you will learn in this article, online sales probably account for less than 10 percent of total electrical industry sales. However, there are many Web tools you can integrate into your business, such as Web conferencing, opt-in e-mail newsletters, Web surveys and much more.

Check out the new and improved ewweb.com

At EW, the editors see the Web as a valuable supplemental communications tool offering 24/7 access to our editorial material.

Our Web site, first launched in 1997, is now better than ever, thanks to a complete retooling. We think you'll like the new www.ewweb.com.

The thousands of visitors who enjoyed the best editorial archives in the electrical wholesaling industry on the old Web site will find the new archives every bit as robust. Veteran users will be glad to know the site's word-search is still working for those times when you want information on a specific company or person.

For new users wanting to get a general feel for the electrical wholesaling industry, information is easy to find using the topic buttons on the top toolbar and left-column navigation links.

Under “EW Top Hits,” we provide links to some of our most popular features, like the Top 200, Market Planning Guide, Source Book and Electrical Market 101 reports.

If you're looking for information on sales or marketing, direct links will take you to a number of resources. Independent manufacturers' reps will also be happy to find a “microsite” within the site devoted specifically to articles and information for their interests.

Just a few years ago, the media was loaded with stories about how the Web was going to replace print magazines as the primary source of information in the business press. That obviously hasn't happened yet.

Print magazines will be around for many years. The smart publishers are harnessing the energies of the Web to extend their brands and provide information that doesn't always fit in the pages of the monthly magazine. Our philosophy has always been to make the content — particularly a robust archives — the foundation of the site. Focusing on quick Web nuggets or long-winded opinion pieces — like what you can find on at least one other electrical industry Web site — is another strategy.

The editors of Electrical Wholesaling are banking on the service we provide by offering hundreds of articles in our archives, that, we hope, will somehow help you run your business more profitably today and in the future. Judging from the feedback we get from readers who visit the site, and the tens of thousands of hits we get each month at the Web site, we think we are on the right track.