Posts Tagged ‘configurator’

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The (changing) CPQ Landscape

October 30, 2018

Theoretically every company that offers CPQ Applications is in competition with each-other right? Well not necessarily. It’s an emerging market and as such there are lots of niche players: channelcentral is one of them. Our niche is around being expert in Technology products, offering a fully managed service (including portfolio maintenance) and presenting our CPQ Applications and Data in eCommerce environments (less so ERP or CRM platforms) as multi-tenant (for Channel of Franchise deployments). Sales pitch over!

Other niche players may be doing specific vertical markets or graphical configuration experiences or be aligned to specific platforms. Some may be doing commission or reward schemes which have sufficient levels of complexity to warrant a CPQ experience. Still CPQ but very distant from what we currently do.

CPQ has been getting a lot of coverage recently with Forrester and Gartner particularly active. Another reason for the coverage has been the number of large (massive) dollar acquisitions. The larger players have either been acquired by, or have aligned with, large ERP/CRM companies:

  • Steelbrick, now part of Salesforce.
  • Callidus Cloud, now part of SAP.
  • Big Machines, now part of Oracle.
  • Chameleon, part of Pros but aligned with Microsoft (see note below).

Pros CPQ showcased in Microsoft Dynamics Vertical Market Website:
https://enterprise.microsoft.com/en-us/solution/industries/discrete-manufacturing/pros-smart-cpq-solution/

Each of those huge software organizations is striving to improve it’s CPQ capability to compete with the others and differentiate their own products/services. There was plenty of speculation with Apttus and Microsoft but that deal did not come to fruition. Adobe has just acquired Magento that doesn’t own a CPQ vendor, but instead relies on 3rd party extensions (as Salesforce (sort of) used to).

That’s not to say that if you are looking for a solution for, say, Salesforce, you’d only look at Steelbrick but I’m sure over time these applications will become increasingly embedded. Equally some of the CPQ Vendors who are part of large software ERP/CRM vendors may want to retain their platform independence.

Expect more change in this exciting space.

 

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CPQ: exploded

October 23, 2018

channelcentral offers CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solutions, most of which integrate into eCommerce Sites (Web Stores). CPQ software can be viewed as a tool to Configure, Price and Quote complex products, helping companies rapidly and cheaply produce accurate quotes on configurable products and services. There are many definitions online of what CPQ means, here’s one:

http://salesconfiguration.org/key-functionality/what-is-cpq/

When CPQ is deployed into eCommerce environments it allows additional functionality and that extends the ‘acronym’. When engaging with people who are not familiar with CPQ they often query the acronym. We’ve had customers say: “your solution has Buy Now, why does the acronym stop short of that?”. It’s a good point as most CPQ systems assist search by filtering portfolios, shape demand, incentivize users, link to CRM systems, show stock and Buy Now (Add to Host Cart).

Our version of CPQ…

  • Single Sign On
  • Product Location
  • BOM Import/Paste
  • Demand Shaping
  • Configuration
  • Solution Journeys
  • Competitive (selling against)
  • Pricing
  • Bundles
  • Incentive (rewards)
  • Quotation
  • Send to CRM
  • Buy Now

Not exactly snappy but don’t discount CPQ because you think it’s just slots, bays and quotes.

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Easy Connect is now in iQuote!

February 3, 2017

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Easy Connect BTO (ProLiant EC200a) products to iQuote, extending the portfolio of products on offer.

EasyConnectAn Easy Connect configurator has been specifically designed and developed into iQuote to assist users in navigating the complex product rules.   Users of iQuote are now able to configure Easy Connect products through a simple step by step wizard to ensure an accurate configuration every time.

Once you have selected your Easy Connect SKU, users are prompted to start the wizard:

Easyconnect2

After starting the wizard, users are asked a series of questions to select from such as:

  • Model
  • Storage and Accessories
  • Operating System
  • Additional Services
  • Hardware and Support

On response to all of the questions, users are given the option to ‘Update Basket’ as shown below:

Easy Connect 4

Easy Connect will then form part of your quotation and users can be assured of a fully validated configuration. We hope that you will enjoy using the new Easy Connect configurator and that it gives you the confidence to quote this great new addition to the iQuote product portfolio!

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See the All New iCreate Software for Westcoast!

January 30, 2017

iCreateWe are delighted to announce the latest release of our iCreate Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software for Westcoast Distribution. The Software is now bigger and better than ever. It has never been easier for Resellers to sell the entire HP PC range to their customers’ exact requirements.

Here are just a few of the reasons Resellers should be using iCreate from Westcoast Distribution:

  • Configure the HP Workstation range
  • Configure the NEW HP Premium range
  • Configure by graphics card
  • Export validated quotes to Excel for upload directly into HP’s bid system
  • Save and name popular configurations for future use
  • Full slot configuration and accessory selection
  • Maximise your margin opportunity

And best of all…it is simple and easy to navigate!

Use the Westcoast iCreate tool today for all your HP business. Visit Westcoast iCreate.

iCreate is developed exclusively for Westcoast Distribution by channelcentral.net. channelcentral specialise in quotation software to enable the IT Channel Worldwide.

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You want to show stock in your Configurator. That must be easy right?

October 24, 2016

shutterstock_17837185For ex-stock sales showing stock (inventory) in a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tool offers a better chance of a “right first time” quotation. In Sales, how often has a solution been created but has to be re-worked and re-worked at great expense because it can’t be shipped in time?

Customer expectations are high and in some geographies same or next day deliveries are considered normal. One of the reasons factory configuration (aka configure to order) business models that were popular at the start of the millennium in the IT Channel are not as common anymore.

Surfacing stock should be easy. With our experience we know it’s not as easy as you’d think.

CPQ: a separate system
It’s very rare for an ERP system to be able to offer CPQ capabilities that exactly match the business or technical complexity. So stock has to be “fed” to the CPQ system. Today that almost certainly means a web service as even hourly text files can be out of date. A business turning over stock every two weeks in volume or value terms is shipping a lot of products per hour and it only takes 1 part from 10 to be sold to invalidate a configuration.

Web services are real-time and with the best programming techniques stock figures can cascade in once a page has loaded, to improve performance and handle complex configurations that have hundreds or even thousands of parts.

Pulling stock through in tandem with price makes sense so this is often a single process.

Stock is Stock
Well surprisingly not. At any stage a Manufacturer or Distributor may have orders placed on their suppliers so there’s what is in stock, plus what is on order. Then add in expected due dates so the user can accurately forecast when a configuration can be shipped. Sometimes products in constraint have “back orders” or “forward due date orders”. So the due quantity isn’t the amount on order it’s the amount after back/forward orders.

Imagine losing a sales opportunity today for 50 units when you have 5000 units arriving in the warehouse tomorrow.

Bundles
The concept of bundles is usually associated with promotional discounts so buy these 5 products together and get a better price. In addition, bundles also exist where “large deal” price lists are in place where all products must be ordered from one supplier on a single invoice. It doesn’t stop there though: for large geographies stock exists in multiple warehouses so to build a configuration, all the items have to be in the same location otherwise the shipping is a) more expensive b) slower. Lastly, some countries have complex tax laws and to pay the “correct” tax, products have to ship from specific locations.

Virtual Stock & Electronic Licenses
If you are a Reseller that carries some stock but can buy from multiple sources, you have the advantage of being able to show “aggregate” stock numbers but be careful not to fall foul to the Bundle rules that may be in play. Also some products are ALWAYS in stock as they are basically licenses or services delivered via an email. So your user interface needs to make it clear that they are ALWAYS available not ALWAYS out of stock.

Visual Aids
New word for the dictionary: shippability. Show products in the basket that can ship now in green and those that can’t in red. OK that makes sense. Especially if the “electronically” delivered parts are also green. The user can instantly see the entire configuration is shippable. You will also want your CPQ tool to update shippabillity in a quote that was created 2 weeks ago. If a product can’t be stock refreshed warn the user.

Still think showing stock is easy? Well it’s not impossible. All of channelcentral’s CPQ tools cope well with ALL of the complexities laid out here. If you are having issues managing stock for your Channel contact us to hear about the different CPQ tools that we can offer.

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Why work with channelcentral?

February 24, 2016

New Video Release.

There is an increasing amount of ‘noise’ about CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)Software as industries start to appreciate the value of such powerful tools. When there is so much noise it can be difficult to decide which software provider will work best for your needs.

channelcentral has made the decision a little bit easier since we are 100% focussed on the IT Channel. So if you have complex products to sell that you want to sell more of and your business either Manufactures or Distributes IT products you should read on!

Understanding your business needs by specialising in one industry is great but there are lots of other reasons to both consider CPQ Software and channelcentral. We have created this short video to efficiently explain why you should work with us – there are many more services on offer than you may think…

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If you think that channelcentral has a service you may be looking for then get in touch by email at interested@channelcentral.net for an informal discussion.

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channelcentral publishes first Whitepaper

October 12, 2015

Increasing Revenue and Reducing Workload with a CPQ Tool.

^8EC7AB93940CBC2A7FF40DDB9647C910E1223A4327CA832AF3^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrLast week channelcentral published its first Whitepaper. The publication is called “Increasing Revenue and Reducing Workload with a CPQ Tool”. After 8 years of developing Configure, Price, Quote Software for the IT Channel, channelcentral felt it was time to impart our knowledge and share the true value of a CPQ Tool.

Configure, Price, Quote Software is not new, and our customers that already use our iQuote CPQ tool are well aware of the benefits it can bring. However, the term Configure, Price, Quote is new, and with a number of options in the market to choose from be it by supplier or functionality, it can be a little confusing.

So, what topics are covered in this Whitepaper?

•    What is CPQ Software and who can use it?
•    Why should my company consider CPQ Software?
•    How do I know if my company will benefit from CPQ Software?
•    How has CPQ Software helped other companies?
•    How can CPQ Software be implemented in my company?

Download the Whitepaper and see how your business could increase revenue by as much as 40% and reduce workload by 50%!

For further information on channelcentral and its CPQ Software visit www.channelcentral.net/cpq