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Paint firms make online advances

Paint manufacturers are beginning to take steps to catch up with the explosion in online trading.

Standox is considering plans to allow bodyshops to re-order materials over the internet, with delivery and billing processed in the usual way by the local distributor.

The company already has colour formulations, data sheets and training presentations available online.

General manager Neil Marcus said: “It makes sense for us to extend this to supply logistics. This may include a future possibility of automatic re-ordering for bodyshops that use the advanced IT paintshop management systems.

“As soon as bodyshop paint stocks monitored by the management system fall below pre-set levels, an order would automatically be prepared and transmitted down the line.” R-M Automotive Refinish, part of the BASF group, recently Wap-enabled its website.

Managing director Paul Buckingham said: “Bodyshop staff will be able to access the website from the workshop floor via a mobile phone and retrieve colour information and technical data sheets.

“IT in the bodyshop is still in its infancy but R-M's internet technology is being advanced daily and there is no doubt we will be further increasing online support to distributors and end users over the coming months.” Automotive Management surveyed the leading paint companies' internet sites to assess the information and services offered to bodyshop customers.

R-M's website is found under the BASF umbrella (www.basf.com). It has good photographs and graphics, but these mean it is a little slow to load. Repairers have full access to technical data sheets on all products in a printable form as well as a useful colour formula calculator.

The Standox site – www.standox.co.uk – is slightly simpler but also offers colour formula calculators and data sheets. It provides step-by-step repair guides for a wide number of techniques and includes a 'profit shop' section that details management tips such as paint usage and margins guides.

DuPont and Akzo Nodel do not have UK-specific sites. Their parent sites – www.dupont.com/finishes/eu and www.akzonobel.com – give overviews about their core businesses with local address contact details. ICI Autocolor operates via its PPG parent www.ppg.com/iciautocolor, but does have technical tips for common paint defects. The colour formulation section requires a password for ICI users.

PPG's website – www.ppg.com – comes from its US parent and, apart from the useful datasheet retrieval, only offers information on products and services such as the MVP performance programme.

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