Staying at the forefront of innovation is a colossal challenge, made even more daunting by the intricacies of integrating a wide range of back office systems and online platforms. Yet, in today’s fast-paced digital ecosystem and rapidly evolving e-commerce sphere, keeping pace with technological progress is not a choice, but an imperative.
To thrive in this competitive landscape, securing access to cutting-edge ERP and CRM systems, robust cybersecurity protocols, state-of-the-art e-commerce platforms, as well as efficient invoicing and reporting tools, is paramount.
However, realistically speaking, how many dealers possess the capacity, inclination, or resources to commit to this level of technological infrastructure? This is precisely where technology software providers play a pivotal role. Entrusting the experts who specialise in tailored solutions and are immersed in technology day in and day out, is nothing short of indispensable. They bring expertise that ensures dealers are not only up-to-date but ahead of the curve.
Calidore Computer Systems – Kevin Cowell, Partner
Gap analysis – an underused facility
In the realm of efficient back office systems, the data a dealer compiles about their clients stands as a cornerstone of their business. It encompasses vital details such as purchase history, frequency, volume, pricing, and ultimately, profitability. This wealth of information is readily accessible through various channels, be it a CRM system, standard order entries, or the creation of tailored pricing profiles and contracts.
However, the continuous augmentation of this data is where it brings even greater rewards. Beyond knowing what clients buy, lies the ability to discern what it is they’re not buying. This distinction is critical as it enables sales and purchasing teams to bridge purchasing gaps to enhance overall sales performance.
Calidore’s cutting-edge POWER-Gx suite offers this gap analysis capability, seamlessly connecting targeted promotional offerings to clients who have yet to engage with specific product categories. This functionality enables dealers to swiftly assemble marketing lists for email campaigns or call lists for telemarketing initiatives.
Furthermore, a comprehensive standard report enables dealers to identify profitable categories and ascertain the buying patterns of any client. By employing year-over-year and/or month-to-month reporting, dealers can uncover fluctuations in product sales and identify seasonal trends.
Delving deeper into customer review analysis, granular assessments of key clients can be conducted, considering metrics such as order size, line count, and average transaction value. Additional features encompass variables like the top 50 sellers per customer, ranked by sales value, quantity, and profit margins. These reports also offer a customer-facing version – with cost and profit details removed – tailored for presentations and contract reviews.
Through the careful collation and analysis of this data, dealers can orchestrate strategic promotional events, often in tandem with key supplier initiatives, to target specific buyers. This not only amplifies revenue but also solidifies customer relationships.
Alternatively, dealers can opt to run specialised promotions for the identified gap categories through their webstore to broaden market reach.
For more information on Calidore Computer Systems, visit: calidore.co.uk
ECI Software Solutions – Kyle Churchill, E-commerce Marketing Director
The expectations for B2B e-commerce
The requirements for e-commerce in the B2B world are increasing exponentially. They also come with unique challenges that technical solutions engineers at many dealers need to address to ensure the company’s robust growth and business success.
This is in part because B2B transactions often involve complex processes, customised pricing, multiple stakeholders and various regulatory and compliance requirements. Finding and adapting an e-commerce platform capable of handling this level of complexity to meet specific business goals can be a formidable task.
This is especially true when businesses already have established ERP and/or CRM systems in place. Integrating a new B2B e-commerce platform with existing systems can be an arduous endeavour. Factor in the need to maintain customer trust by ensuring the privacy and security of their data as it passes through the e-commerce process – from storage and transmission to multiple access – and the progression may experience delays.
Nonetheless, this transition is imperative, and the sooner it is embraced, the better. Even an adopted e-commerce platform, if slow, poorly designed and difficult to navigate can deter prospective buyers. It may also dissuade others from engaging with the site in the first place.
This underscores the critical importance for technical engineers to explore proven software like ECI Software Solutions’ flagship EvolutionX platform. It was purpose-built to reduce operational costs, boost productivity and profitability, and simplify business processes.
Moreover, the exciting news of its integration with ECI’s Horizon ERP platform (read Maximising efficiency for more details) will further empower small and mid-sized businesses to seamlessly manage information flows and real-time data from a single source, including accounts, users, addresses, cost centres, order history and live pricing.
Effectively tackling these challenges demands a strategic approach, a commitment to technology investment, collaboration with experienced partners and ongoing monitoring of the evolving landscape of B2B e-commerce.
For more information on ECI Software Solutions, visit: ecisolutions.com
Nectere – Steve Harrop, Head of Commercial
CRM is a real asset, but do we get the most out of our tech?
CRM systems hold immense potential for dealer partners to elevate client engagement and cultivate lasting relationships while meeting core customers’ needs. Yet, dealers face distinct challenges in the implementation and maintenance of CRM strategies.
Budget constraints coupled with limited financial and HR resources often hinder the pursuit of a centralised, cost-effective solution. Investing in CRM software and requisite training can strain budgets and put teams to the test. This is precisely why Nectere offers a complimentary CRM package as part of a whole support programme.
What about customer data? It must be accurate and up to date. Inaccurate or incomplete data quality can result in missed opportunities and inefficient marketing campaigns.
Correcting this can be a time-hungry exercise, emphasising the importance of regular data maintenance. Even with high-quality data, it remains the case that everyone has a different focus. So, it’s down to dealers to maximise the CRM benefits they want.
There is often a fear factor, especially among smaller or more traditional partners regarding the seamless integration of CRM software with existing systems. Nectere has the IT expertise for smooth integration to prevent a disjointed customer experience.
Technology is on a super-fast development curve, which frankly scares all but the most ‘tech-savvy’ individuals. Encouraging partners to embrace new practices hinges on comprehensive support and training.
This means recognising that we need to ‘human speak’ and train as much as possible because with success comes the need to upscale. As trends and data become changeable or more complex, the necessity for central support increases.
There’s a real need for a strategy when implementing systems, not only CRM. Without clarity and reasoning, data in a CRM solution risks resembling an old-style telephone list. So, while you can keep contact numbers on your mobile, it’s the data and tools that drive effective marketing.
Data security is paramount. The continuing rise of cyberattacks necessitates robust measures to safeguard sensitive information. Data breaches can damage a company’s trust and reputation and lead to loss of business.
To overcome these CRM engagement issues, Nectere believes that small businesses should explore cost-effective and inclusive CRM platforms, adopt user training, ensure data accuracy and let someone else secure the integrity and safety of the data.
With careful planning and commitment, dealer partners can harness the power of CRM to enhance customer engagement, foster loyalty and drive growth.
Ultimately, however, it rests in the hands of the users and especially the quality of the data they input and maintain.
For more information, visit: nectere.org
Prima Software – Ian Buckley, Managing Director & Rob Harper, Marketing Director
Maximising growth potential
In the pursuit of business growth, acquiring new clients is undeniably important. However, are dealers fully tapping into the latent potential within their existing customer base? Leveraging existing relationships to boost sales is a more streamlined and financially rewarding strategy compared to venturing into uncharted territories to win new accounts solely based on pricing.
While the groundwork has already been laid through the establishment of these relationships, and delivery vans are already en route to their destinations, the true key lies in maximising the order value and basket size with each delivery.
For Prima Software, an ERP system plays a pivotal role. It should provide crystal-clear, data-driven insights and highlight valuable opportunities, helping pinpoint gaps in customers’ spending profiles. Furthermore, it must stimulate the sales team to enlighten clients about comprehensive service offerings.
Ultimately, transforming into a sole provider of business products offers tangible advantages to customers. It simplifies their experience, resulting in a single transaction, one delivery and a solitary invoice. In addition to optimising these client relationships, an ERP system should play a central part in customer retention. It should have the capability to promptly identify and alert dealers to any declines in customer spending, enabling proactive steps to be taken in addressing potential issues.
Furthermore, a system should offer flexible reporting options tailored to a customer’s specific requirements. This could include monthly spending reports by department or even reports on CO2 emissions, aiding buyers in achieving their sustainability goals.
An intuitive online ordering platform is absolutely indispensable for effectively servicing customers effectively. It should provide a personalised ordering experience and empower them with self-service tools, including the ability to download invoices, review and confirm quotes, manage user accounts and access customised offers and promotions.
An effective ERP system should present comprehensive data from a wide range of suppliers. This information empowers dealers to diversify their product offerings and enhance fulfilment while maintaining optimal profitability.
For more information, visit: primasoftware.co.uk
Heart Systems – Samantha Cox, Customer Relations & Marketing
Data processing is the backbone of our industry
The office supplies industry, once characterised by a group of products such as pens, notebooks, and paper products, has undergone a significant transformation. As more traditional products now have technology-based alternatives, the demand for what once were considered core items has greatly reduced.
In response, the industry has adjusted and diversified to become a comprehensive business supplies offering. This evolution has necessitated an expanded product offering and a more intricate supply chain, requiring vast amounts of data processing from back office systems and e-commerce providers.
As consumer preferences continue to evolve, the adaptability needed to meet these dynamic demands has positioned the business supplies industry as leaders in collating masses of product data, collaborating with multiple suppliers to create e-commerce webstores with fully integrated back office systems.
This has had the effect of automating every facet of the process, from sales orders, pricing and purchasing to stock feeds, distribution, invoicing and accounting all the way through to reporting and analysis.
Data processing plays a critical role in the world of e-commerce. In the highly competitive and rapidly evolving online purchasing landscape, businesses rely on data to gain insights, make informed decisions, and deliver a seamless shopping experience for customers.
Heart Systems firmly believes that data processing forms the backbone of e-commerce, driving everything from personalised shopping experiences to providing data that can be analysed to create targeted promotions and tailored marketing campaigns.
E-commerce platforms have made it easier than ever for small businesses to establish an online presence. With minimal infrastructure investment, even the most modest of enterprises can set up an online store, reaching potential customers far beyond their physical location. This increased accessibility levels the playing field, enabling SMBs to compete with larger, more established competitors.
Heart Systems is continually developing additional ways to link data to a process so clients can have seamless integration across all the platforms they need to run their business.
For more information on Heart Systems, visit: heartsystems.co.uk
Office Power – Michael Baker-Mosley, Marketing Director
The integrating factor
Recent findings from a straw poll conducted among leading dealers in the North of England at the Office Power Dealer Growth Summit (read A catalyst for change for the event report) have shed light on a prevalent issue: over half grapple with technology integrations.
The primary issue lies in integrating data and systems into a cohesive tech stack that propels growth, rather than acting as a hindrance.
Although that figure may seem surprisingly high, dealers face challenges across the board. Whether dealing with bespoke or native integrations, the complexity of managing multiple systems presents a significant hurdle.
While the financial ramifications of non-functioning technology are concerning, the broader impact on a business is even more troubling. Factors such as poor staff adoption, unreliable data and a lack of agility in implementing changes were all cited as considerable issues.
These complications extend beyond makeshift integrations to encompass frustrations with native integrations in CRM, marketing and back office tools.
In contrast, Office Power partner dealers enjoy the benefits of a comprehensive e-commerce ERP solution that incorporates CRM and marketing tools within a single platform. Originally built by and for dealers, this technology offers tools and insights specifically designed to give users the control they need.
With features covering a spectrum of functionalities from operations management, customer support, enterprise capabilities and commercial aspects to marketing, sales enablement, CRM, customer communications and trading and technology support, there’s no need for complex integrations or multiple data points between disparate systems. Everything operates in real-time, delivering a unified and comprehensive view of the customer.
To register for the London Growth Summit taking place on 30 October, visit: https://meet.officepower.net/london-growth-summit