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):
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; so, it’s time to take notice. 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.
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 make that a priority. 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.
Websites and Ecommerce
Selling products online continues to be a goal for many distributors. 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 to going online.
Purchasing and Inventory Control
Quite often we encounter customers who don’t use suggested purchasing in Eclipse. This tool can bring 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. 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 software is a newer focus among distributors we work with. We’re seeing our customers gain even greater control over their costs and inventory with third party tools. Find an Eclipse consultant that can help guide you. With or without Eclipse, a focus on consistent, technology driven purchasing behavior is a must.
Tony King is the owner of Zerion Group whose roles include sales, consulting and management of a team of 12 consultants who work directly with customers to help them achieve their business goals.