Zerion does much of its business via the telephone. Our consultants talk on the phone a lot regarding new business inquiries, existing customer questions, follow-ups with past customers, and more. At Zerion, we’re sort of attached to our phones! With all those minutes logged, we’ve noticed a trend. (Three of them, actually.) Every week, our phone conversations include these primary topics (in order of importance):
- Pricing matrix
- Web sites and ecommerce
- Purchasing and inventory control
Why should these phone exchanges be of any relevance to you? Because this is the stuff your competitors and peers are buzzing about. The stuff the Eclipse community is focused on. And, it’s time to follow suit. Let’s dive a little deeper into each of them and find out why you should be thinking about putting these items on your “to do” list for 2013.
Properly priced product is a more important success factor than most of our clients realize, because a lack of emphasis in this area can run your business ragged. This has been a hot topic for at least five years; but, it’s come into more prominence in the last year. We continue to be amazed by the number of distributors who don’t take advantage of Eclipse’s price matrix. Often times, salespeople are fixing the Gross Profit each time they enter an order. In effect, this creates multiple pricing czars in the organization. Unfortunately, not everybody can be an expert at product pricing. When you set up a pricing matrix, customers get consistent pricing, the sales staff gets to focus on what they do best, and you can manage your margins effectively and predictably.
The Eclipse pricing matrix is very robust and works well for our customers. In fact, we ranked this as #1 on our list because of how quickly it can pay for itself. If you don’t have a matrix set up, then 2013 is the year to get it going. If you already have one that’s functioning properly, then it’s time to consider third party software to take your efforts to the next level. The right software package can help you find even more margin. Profit2 is the best choice we’ve come across so far; but, there are several vendors out there for you to review.
Web sites and Ecommerce
Selling product online continues to be a goal for many distributors, especially with the introduction of AmazonSupply last year. Ecommerce is an important consideration, both to keep up with the times and to remain competitive. It can be seen as a new source of revenue, as well as a necessity to customer service. You certainly don’t want your customers migrating elsewhere just because of added convenience.
Many of our clients think a web store can be added to their offering with the flip of a few switches. That may be the case from a technical perspective; however, there’s much more involved in going online. In the coming weeks, we’ll be going into more depth on the “how to” of this topic.
Purchasing and Inventory Control
Quite often we encounter customers who don’t use suggested purchasing in Eclipse. This is a tool that can bring you much value by minimizing your holding costs and waste, as well as ensuring you have the right product on hand at the right time. Many times, buyers think they’re smarter than the Eclipse system. They believe the Suggested PO queue can’t come up with the correct buy; so, they consistently change buys. This undoubtedly results in unnecessary fluctuations in inventory that could be avoided if Eclipse was simply allowed to do its thing. If the buys don’t seem correct, you should instead look at the data and the maintenance so that the queue can work as designed.
Remember, Eclipse’s abilities in this area can be limited. For example, if you’re dealing with exports or imports, then Eclipse methodologies may not work for you; and, you may need to seek out additional software resources. This type of demand planning outside of Eclipse is a newer focus among distributors we work with; but, we’re seeing our customers gain even greater control over their costs and inventory with third party tools. With or without Eclipse, a focus on consistent, technology driven purchasing behavior is a must in 2013.
Are any of these projects on the horizon for you this year? Or, have you already tackled one or more of them and have some advice to share? Let us know your thoughts and how Zerion can help you be more efficient and profitable in 2013. We’d love to have a phone call from YOU!