As a manufacturer you’re in the unique position of having contact with your clients on a nearly-daily basis through your ordering system. Dealers quote your brands to consumers, and once they have made the sale, they enter the order information into your system. Your business intelligence is limited to the point in time of the actual order.
Most manufacturers want to change the dynamic of their order process but can’t see past the barriers. Some of those barriers are:
- Cost to change processes
- Software development cost
- Human resources training
- Sourcing the right vendor who has an intimate knowledge of your business
When you consider the opportunity costs that are associated with simplifying the quote-to-order process for your dealers, you may even realize a significant ROI.
Standing out in a Crowded Market
Every manufacturer is looking to differentiate themself from the pack. Maybe it’s a special finish that only you offer, or discounts on certain product, but these are differentiators that appeal to the consumer. Often, discounts aren’t passed to the consumer; after all, you don’t control the last six feet of the sale. You need to appeal to your client; the dealer.
Dealers today are looking for certain things from their manufacturers such as:
- Pricing that is easy to understand and quote
- An ordering system that is intuitive and easy to use
- The ability to quote products faster, easier, and more accurately
Many of today’s manufacturers have ordering processes that make it easy on themselves but not on the dealer (many with different processes between their own brand families).
By simplifying your quote-to-order system, you will show your dealers that you care about their needs. Would you trade that opportunity just because you think it will save a few bucks in the short term?
Better Business Intelligence
Big data is the new goldmine of the 21st century, allowing people to do things like predict presidential elections and understand consumer trends as they’re unfolding. Why can’t data help manufacturers in the kitchen and bath industry?
Most ordering systems for manufacturers originate with the purchase order, and therefore you get data for exactly that; what people are ordering. But what if a simplified quote-to-order process allowed you to collect data from the quote forward? You could see that quotes of a specific wood species have a low conversion-to-order rate and know that there is a pricing issue – or quickly push a promotion to dealers to dislodge a backlog of jobs that may get quoted to another vendor. Imagine building a forecasting engine so good that it guides you in your commodity purchases, a sort of crystal ball for the ops side of the house.
With superior business intelligence you would be able to increase your business performance and ultimately boost the bottom line. That’s a fair trade for a simplified ordering system.
The Age of Efficiency
We’re at a crossroads as a society where technology has increased the efficiency of the average worker to a point that less people are doing the same – and sometimes greater – amount of work. “Yeah, but not in our industry,” you may say, but why not?
Walk through the order processing department of a typical manufacturer and there might be 10 employees slogging through the stacks of dealer orders that keep coming in. In fact, you may aspire to have only ten working on order processing, making calls back to the dealer and correcting errors. If your ACPOP (Average Cost Per Order Processed) is over $25, you are a candidate for more dollars to flow to the bottom line. And, we might add, happier dealer customers.
Understand the True Cost
You may think the fiscal costs of simplifying your dealer ordering system outweigh the benefits to your business, but when you consider the opportunity costs that you may forgo with that decision, you may end up singing a different tune.