Product Catalogue versus online Shop

The business has always operated as a consultancy and for the most part still does, consequently our documentation has traditionally been produced to order.

It is faster to describe the possible documentation that can be provided than it is to produce such documentation. With respect to providing standard documentation which can be downloaded, additional effort is required to design the documents: its presentation, licensing and disclaimers. This extra effort is required, because in providing documents, we are no longer providing engineering services and no longer have responsibility for the suitability of the design for a specific project. Manufacturers do not appear to understand this issue: whilst a design is suitable in its own right, it is not necessarily suitable for their customers needs. For example calculations for a building to be used in a terrain category 3 wind loading area are not suitable for a terrain category 2 site. The manufacturer makes the decision about wind terrain category 2 or 3, and is therefore responsible for the suitability of the design, not the engineer who produced the calculations. It doesn’t matter whether the salesperson is relying on printed reports or pushing numbers through software: the salesperson has become the designer or at the very minimum the technical advisor. The salesperson therefore requires a minimum of technical training irrespective of whether they are using reports or computer software. When the documents are available to everyone, then do not know if the end-users have such training: the documents no longer just limited to suppliers of manufactured buildings but also available to private individuals.  Providing documents for prescriptive solutions to be used by DIY enthusiasts requires additional information to be provided in the reports, and guidance in selecting suitable reports. Providing such guidance represents something of a grey area as far as responsibility goes. Also at this point in time do not have a product configurator to assist self-service in selecting the appropriate report.

Production of documents for download also requires choosing a starting point for the reports, answering the question which parameters or variations have the highest demand? Producing for stock requires reliable forecasting, whilst producing to order does not.

So with a product catalogue can produce to order, which basically means business as usual. The format of the documents can then progressively improve until suitable to be made available for immediate download.


  1. [21/10/2015] : Original