last week launched the toolbar to make it easier for industrial professionals to access content on Users can download the toolbar, which provides entry into hundreds of product catalogs, more than 20 million CAD drawings, as well as industry news, for free (no registration is required).

The toolbar offers a variety of features, including a supplier data button (which provides a snapshot of the capabilities of the 675, 000 suppliers indexed by 67,000 product and service classifications available on, a customizable RSS reader (so readers can consolidate news from ThomasNet's Industrial Newsroom and Industrial Market Trends blog), a notes button (that enables users to record thoughts about any of the sites visited, including the online product catalogs featured on and a bookmarks button (where favorite sites can be saved and accessed at a later time from another computer, regardless of the toolbar being installed).

Users can customize the toolbar to add buttons that provide immediate access to's collection of CAD drawings and translate web sites from English to other desired languages. The toolbar also offers a search function, privacy protection, pop-up blocker and access to personalized pages through MyThomas.

Being top of mind with customers is the cornerstone of any customer retention strategy. You can't get more top of mind than a toolbar. It's basically a marketing tool coupled with functionality that customers will probably find more useful than obtrusive. In addition, providing quick entry to's offerings is a great idea. Customers will be more likely to utilize if it's a simple and quick process. The tool launched with a variety of features and it's probable that customer feedback will yield additional features and functionality. Other information providers should watch the evolution of this tool closely--it could be a valuable tool for them to add as well.