Great value awaits for distributors with mobile sales apps
Here are some things to look for in your mobile apps along with some practical ways a wholesale distributor might use them.
How Can Distributors Use Mobile Sales Apps?
Address book. You need to start somewhere. Think about the amount of time one single sales person spends adding customer contacts to their smart phone. With a mobile sales app, accessing a complete–and accurate–address book is just a login and password away. Let your competitors have their sales reps tediously entering account address, phone and email information, spending dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours manually keying the stuff in. Your mobile app should automatically work with the device’s calendar, email and phone–and because it’s integrated with your ERP system, sales reps will never have to worry about keeping the data current.
Price catalog. Better yet, an illustrated price catalog. If your ERP system already contains an image associated with an item then your mobile app should be able to display that along with pricing – and even warehouse quantities available. Historically distributors published a catalog once, maybe twice per year. With your new ERP-driven price and product catalog your sales reps will be able to keep themselves and your customers up-to-the-minute current.
Order and history inquiry. Now we’re getting into the good stuff. If you are an outside sales rep or executive, how cool would it be to prepare for your next meeting by looking at all of the open activity and past history for a customer right before you meet with them? Knowledge is power, and the informed sales rep is a confident sales rep. A confident sales rep closes deals.
Place Orders. Or at least produce price quotes. The well equipped mobile salesperson can enter all of the details of a quote or an order and close the deal right on the spot. You may even wish to capture the signature of the customer or accept their payment. Why is this important? By getting the order now you can 1) accelerate delivery 2) establish yourself as a modern company that others want to do business with 3) ensure accuracy 4) beat the competition to the punch.
At xkzero, we believe that people perform best when they are confident, informed, and have a high level of trust in the tools they use. Maybe it’s time for your wholesale distribution business to start gearing up with mobile apps. If your ERP data tells the story of your customers and your inventory, shouldn’t you equip your team to have that information in their pockets?
Registration is open to returning exhibitors for Sage Summit 2015 from July 27-30, 2015 in New Orleans. Last year’s Summit blew away the attendance of any prior Sage North America conference. We have reason to believe this will be another record-setting year.
xkzero is already registered, and we can’t wait for July! At Sage Summit 2014, our booth was among the top 10 most visited. We weren’t at all surprised, because we know businesses are serious about taking advantage of the mobile technology we provide, to connect mobile apps to your ERP and accounting system.
General conference registration opens in March 2015. So, start polishing your party beads and we’ll see you in the Big Easy!
The greatest incentive to migrate to a mobile ERP stems from the powerful impact of creating new processes altogether. It is also a smart way to overhaul a specific business function, such as sales. It makes sense, then, that retailers are so obsessed with a new idea you might think of as “Omni-Commerce.” Marketing and selling to customers whenever—and wherever they are is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It’s an essential strategy.
Give your customer their own app and you they might give you a gold star!
To appreciate the business value of mobile technology, we need to pay attention to the way mobility has shaped consumers’ thinking. Keep in mind that carrying smart phones or even tablets everywhere has led us to expect instant gratification.
When a consumer experiences a sight, sound, or smell that triggers a need—real or perceived—mobile devices have the tools to satisfy that urge—right then, right there. To win the sale, a business needs to anticipate this compulsion, and be more immediately accessible than competitors.
Fortunately, this is possible with mobile commerce, which is well within reach for small and mid-market manufacturers. All mobile solutions are not alike, though. Users embrace a mobile ERP and specialized apps when they have a very high level of trust in the reliability of the data presented.
Furthermore, the system needs to be easy to learn and use for individuals with varying levels of technical proficiency. Ultimately, it must create a far better experience than ever before. This takes an app that is a good fit for your company’s needs, which might even found right in the app store, aka “off the shelf.”
WEB STORES FALL SHORT
To illustrate how omni-commerce might work, let’s say a consumer named Sally is driving down the boulevard and spots a billboard advertising a pair of heels that would look absolutely amazing with the dress she’s wearing to a big party the next day. She pulls off the road (of course), then uses her smartphone to do a Google search for these perfect pumps. In a flash, she finds the shoes on the retailer’s website! Sally is smiling, and so is the retailer. You, not so much. Why not? Your company doesn’t have page 1 ranking, so you didn’t get that sale.
Hold on, though. Sally hasn’t submitted payment yet. There may be another way to be the retailer of choice. Sally sees the overnight shipping cost, and can’t justify it. If your store has a good mobile app, you can enable her impulse purchase and get the sale! The app can help her find the closest location with the right color and size in stock. Even better, with a tap on a map, she automatically links to directions to pick them up now. Sally is one happy customer, and you both win!
WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS & THEIR CUSTOMERS CARRY SMARTPHONES, TOO.
Mobile ERP can provide similar opportunities for small and mid-sized distributors and manufacturers. Here’s an example: Suarez Brothers (a fictional name) is a wholesale distributor of beauty supply products serving approximately 600 retail and re-distribution customers scattered far and wide throughout Central and Southern California. The sales reps support their customers with a direct sales force of 8, each assigned a territory of customers who they visit on a regular basis, with the primary purpose of taking new orders.
Our company, xkzero, equipped Suarez with iSales 100, the native iPhone-iPad sales app for Sage 100 ERP a couple of years ago. iSales 100 allows sales reps to place orders on the spot, which are electronically fed directly into Sales Order Entry for next-day picking and delivery. While the mobile sales app led to increased productivity, after this process was in place, a consistent theme of business problems became apparent.
Suarez had been struggling to keep the shelves stocked with inventory demanded by customers. They simply did not have enough salespeople on the street to visit every single customer each week. Consequently, they were losing orders—and market share. (One might say they were a day late and a dollar short.) A logical solution could have been to hire another salesperson or two, forcing higher labor costs. It would have also worsened another problem—the increasing travel costs to visit customers located in remote, rural areas.
CHARTING AN OMNI-COMMERCE SOLUTION
Suarez’s goals were clear. First, hold the line to maintain customers. Then, increase customer loyalty and market share. Also, reduce costs. To achieve these goals, the owners turned to xkzero for help. We were able to solve their problems in a way that didn’t require the customer to buy any additional software.
Suarez merely took advantage of the flexibility inherent in iSales 100 and moved toward an omni-commerce approach, providing the customer with unprecedented freedom in the way they purchased goods. They could now buy product without the distributor’s assistance, and no longer had to wait for a customer sales rep to visit or even give them a call.
Here’s what Suarez did to meet their market share, loyalty, and cost goals:
Assigned a user ID and password to each store
Restricted customer information access to their own account only
Filtered the list of inventory items available to each particular customer
Changed settings to indicate that a customer cannot override calculated price (The app already follows pricing rules established in the ERP.)
Set preferences to require customer signature
Set defaults for each customer’s available warehouse(s)
Set a default to automatically place customer-initiated orders on hold
Orchestrated a campaign to orient targeted customers to the new ordering option
iSales 100 provided every necessary control to give Suarez’s customers access to the mobile app. Suarez was even able to implement everything on the back-end set up in Sage 100 ERP within a few short hours. Now, with iSales 100, customers have the independence to make purchases from Suarez directly from the store aisle, using their smartphone or tablet.
The results are restored customer loyalty and improved market share, with the added bonus of reduced travel and sales costs. These small steps make it easy for retail customers to reduce or eliminate out-of-stock situations, and keep inventory levels just right–for final consumers like Sally. Customer freedom to shop and purchase from anywhere, anytime—that is the essence of omni-commerce. That is the promise of iSales 100.
To learn more about how xkzero can help you develop a mobile ERP strategy to fit your business, please contact us at email@example.com or 847-416-2009.
Get started with Mobile ERP. No large investment required.
Let’s disrupt our industry by doing what no one else is doing! Mobile ERP is one way to enable a complete shift in the way you do business. Creating that brand new experience will take investment and creativity, starting with a serious business process re-engineering evaluation.
Upgrading the entire way your company operates will take time, and requires the full commitment of ownership, management and ERP users. Also, be prepared to make an investment relative to the expected value you hope to generate.
Meanwhile, there are some small things you can do to impact your culture immediately, and prepare the path for a greater mobile ERP transformation ahead.
Begin with some mobile basics. Is your goal is to equip users with access to customer inquiries, inventory inquiries, business intelligence (BI), key performance indicators (KPIs), graphs, reports, and alerts? If so, you may be well served by straight off-the-app-store solutions; download, add login and password, and use. Most major software publishers are regularly making simple and straightforward productivity enhancer apps available on a regular basis.
For example, when you hire a new salesperson, with a mobile customer app, they can be up and running and bringing in new revenue in no time. Simply issue them a smart phone, and once they download an app, they have instant access to all of the customers in their territory, complete with contact information, sales history, and so on.
By comparison, upon hire, one without a mobile sales app may need to accurately enter each and every one of those contacts and companies into their an address book that links between their phone and a computer-based contact app. This is not only time consuming, but allows for human error.
Getting started with mobile ERP, one app at a time, will put your company on track to building a more confident, better informed workforce. Your new employees will more quickly acclimate to their job responsibilities and become integral parts of the team in no time.
The ease of use and access to information afforded with a mobile ERP inevitably energizes employees, and spark positive changes in your culture. This can help set the stage for your grander vision of system-wide mobile integration.
Helping customers is how you’ve likely built your business. With mobile technology advancing so quickly, your customers may be wondering how they can use it to gain efficiencies or an advantage over their competitors. We would like to help you find opportunities that will help your clients grow–while helping you become an expert on mobile ERP technologies–through an informative 45 minute webinar.
This webinar is designed to help you be a leader in the field, win new deals versus your competitors, and help you enhance your existing client relationships.
Specifically, you will learn:
Benefits of mobile ERP – how companies can grow and profit
How to Identify and Qualify clients and prospects who can profit and grow using mobile sales technology with their Sage ERP
Target industries looking for mobile
Where the value really exists for distributors and manufacturers in mobile ERP
New trends in mobile ERP including apps that provide alternatives to expensive commerce sites
When we’re asked why mobile selling is finally here to stay in mid-market ERP for manufacturers and distributors, one of the key things we point to is the ease and low cost improving productivity with technology such as bar code scanning. No more expensive hardware or implementations. At xkzero we partnered with industry leader Infinite Peripherals to provide the easiest to implement bar code solution you will find for Sage ERP.
If your device is the iPad, simply purchase the Linea-Pro Tab device, slip it on to the end of your iPad and start scanning. Similarly easy to implement solutions are available for iPhone and iPod touch. Easy as a snap of the fingers, eh?