|Monday, May 31, 1999||< Prev||Next >|
Like many publishers, Visio Corp. has seen its core product become relentlessly more complex and feature-rich. Early versions of Visio's drawing and diagramming program shipped with a few libraries of graphical "shapes"; now, the Visio libraries include upwards of 15,000 images — everything from crime scene objects and office furniture to generic flow charts, time lines, and maps.
Since few users need all these libraries, Visio has tried to create task- specific versions of the product. "But retailers don't want us to put 15 different SKUs into the channel," says marketing director Mike Molendijk. "So almost everything still ends up in one big product."
Now Molendijk says the company has found a solution: For the past two months, a skunkworks team has been testing a Web-based "Chinese menu" sales model called eVisio. Customers at the eVisio site can assemble their own customized drawing applications by buying the core Visio engine and then adding sets of libraries. The core engine with just two libraries sells for $225, and there are additional price points and pre-configured solutions that range up to a $640 "eVisio Everything" package that is the software equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
In total, says Molendijk, the eVisio site offers more than 250 unique product configurations. "The only limiting factor was what our ERP program could handle," he quips. All customers get the same CD-ROM disk (shipped overnight by UPS), plus a downloadable unlocking key that installs only the modules that the customer has paid for.
What do customers think about this "made-to-order" approach? Component-based sales models haven't been especially successful in the past, but Molendijk says eVisio's first two months look pretty promising. "We're still taking baby steps, but we've had 16,000 unique visitors to the site and sales are growing steadily."
Michael Molendijk, eVisio marketing director, Visio Corp., 2211 Elliott Ave., Seattle, Wash. 98121; 206/956-6629. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.