Thomas Regional Republishes Manufacturer's Catalogs on Web

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Thomas Regional Directory Co., which publishes buying guides in print, CD-ROM and on the Internet for 19 key U.S. industrial markets, is starting to pique the interest of business-to-business clients with its RapidCat branded service.

The company said it decided to develop the service -- which scans, indexes and posts clients' printed business-to-business catalogs directly to the Web -- after nearly two-thirds of its customers indicated through surveys that detailed online catalogs could greatly improve how purchasers' approach the buying process.

Barbara Van Brunt, marketing communications manager of electronic publishing for the company said that Thomas Regional is giving small- to medium-sized businesses new options.

"This a way for them to jump start into the 21st century. The key thing is that we are indexing this for them, allowing users to navigate around their catalog."

Brunt said industrial buyers and specifiers want to be able to conduct more detailed research online, to compare products and access pricing information.

The company also points to additional research revealing that nearly 85 percent of industrial purchasers have Internet access but most find themselves flipping through paper or CD-ROM directories to find what they are looking for.

One of the first manufacturers to take advantage RapidCat was AA Electric, Lakeland, FL which distributes electrical supplies. The company's entire 920-page catalog was transformed into an online reference using the technology.

R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. recently announced it was offering the same kind of solution for its clients by entering into an association with Multimedia Live, a Web design and development firm, to offer a full suite of services for the catalog industry.

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