Posts Tagged ‘Distributor’

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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 Today that almost certainly means a web service as even hourly text files can be out of date.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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What is a Configurator?

September 4, 2015

Configurators can be used in many different industries in a B2B or B2C context. They are probably most commonly known in the car industry for buyers to customize their purchase with tinted windows, sports seats, low profile tyres etc. Essentially, a configurator is a piece of software that acts as a design tool to build a desired solution. Configurators are being used throughout the sales cycle whether that be the Manufacturer, Reseller or End User. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Organizations become more efficient as the sales cycle becomes shorter due to fewer touch points, reducing the strain on resources.
  • Reduces order errors. Built in validation rules means the configurator gets solutions right, every time.
  • Faster Product Life-Cycles with a rapid route to market.
  • Invaluable reporting – Learn everything about how a customer shops and measure trends.
  • Increase Revenue – Upsell potential is greater as the software can provide prompts during the configuration and a larger number of sales will be made as sales teams will have more time.
  • Provide a more personal service to your customers by treating them as individuals who want a bespoke solution.

Increasingly, configurators are being used in the IT Channel. They are the perfect solution to upgrade system components, swap out an Operating System, select optional upgrades and add in additional warranty for example. A configurator doesn’t need to just end there however. Imagine a software package that also gives you Real-Time pricing/stock and not only allows you to produce a quotation but also make a purchase to place an order. This is now possible and is known as Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software.

Here at channelcentral, we have built our business developing Configure, Price, Quote Software for the IT Channel. We are experts in our field and can provide ‘off the shelf’ CPQ Software which can be customized or we can develop you your very own solution. Better still, our CPQ software can be fully integrated into your ecommerce or CRM systems.

Consider how a Configurator could help your business grow … it could be more valuable than you think.

For further information on Configurators visit: http://www.channelcentral.net/system-configurators.asp

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What is your Quote-to-Order Strategy?

December 9, 2014

Do you even have one? So many of our customers are stuck in the same old processes they have used for years, but now is the time to change.

Why is a Quote-to-Order Strategy important?

Being experienced in the channel, channelcentral gets many requests for help to improve efficiencies in Distribution for configuring complex products but very few of our customers actually know the answer to the question we are asking today. It’s because they don’t have a strategy. By putting one in place however, you will instantly see the positive impact it can have on your business:

  • Consistent approach so staff and customers have set expectations.
  • Improved accuracy – quote it Right, First Time!
  • Improved Security – Less risk of losing data as quotes are stored in the cloud.
  • Improved product information.
  • Instant growth in the number of quotations.
  • Reduced overheads.
  • Faster quote turnaround time.
  • Ability to quote anywhere either through your browser or a Smartphone App.
  • Increase in revenue!

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?! The great news is, it really is quite simple.
By considering a Configure/ Price/ Quote (CPQ) service as part of your Quote-to-Order Strategy you could be reaping the rewards sooner than you think. Why not contact channelcentral today to discuss your strategy and how we can help with a cost effective solution?

Visit www.channelcentral.net

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HP iQuote Distributor Benefits

December 3, 2014

A reminder for HP Authorized Distributors of some of the benefits of deploying HP iQuote.

  • Free up skilled resource to work on larger opportunities.
  • Fewer basic sales errors leading to returns (cost) and dissatisfaction.
  • Quicker Turn Around Time for Quotations.
  • Ease of business improvements allowing customers to self-quote.
  • Run more effective sales campaigns through SPIF and Banner Advertising functions.
  • Improve “Pitch Rate” to drive more Options Attach.
  • Show inventory to Sales/Customers to focus on moving inventory faster.
  • Stop paying staff/agencies to maintain Sales Cheat Sheets and Sales Tools.
  • Consistent tool across multiple HP Business Units/Products.

If you are interested in HP iQuote please visit http://www.hpiquote.net.

Developed by www.channelcentral.net

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HP ServeIT Solutions in HP iQuote EMEA

August 7, 2014

Save Time and Money.

Regular users of HP iQuote will already be aware of the Promotions tab on the menu bar. Under promotions you can receive Flex Attach or Promo offers (Top Value) but now, users can also view ServeIT Bundles:

iQ Promotions Image

The ServeIT Solutions have been hand-picked by HP. Users can click on any of the ServeIT Solutions and HP iQuote will automatically load a pre-validated configuration, some of which will already have Flex-Attach discounts:

ServeIT Image

The user can then send the quote straight to customers or edit the quote to meet specific requirements. This new feature will save HP iQuote users both time and money. As the feature evolves, we’ll be allowing ‘Host Specific’ bundles to be included, and we will let Hosts know as soon as it becomes available.

If you have any feedback on this new promotion feature please contact marketing@channelcentral.net
For access to HP iQuote please speak to your distributor.

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From HP Virtual Assistant to iQuote

August 10, 2010

We look back on the evolution of HP Virtual Assistant in 1998 to iQuote in 2010! Those of you that worked in the UK IT Channel will look back with a certain nostalgia.

iQuote is a direct descendent of the HP (Compaq) VA, although it is much, much more powerful. The VAs allowed Sales people and Customers to easily interpret the rules of a system and copy/paste parts. Importantly it was full of benefit/sales messaging. The VA was a Lotus Notes database that was published to Computacenter’s public web site – it was consistently the most utilised section of the Intranet and possibly the Website.

Tim Moyle, MD of channelcentral.net, wrote the Virtual Assistants back in December 1998 and brought the team together to deliver iQuote into channel:

“We had something similar to the Virtual Assistant when I was at Corporate Computers that was originally devised by Dave Rado. The Virtual Assistants were an updated version and were introduced to address the sheer volume of pre-sales calls that Product Marketing was experiencing. At the time my then boss, Trevor Pugsley, liked the concept but not the name. It stuck though.”

iQuote is such a major leap and progression from Virtual Assistant that it’s almost hard to compare the two systems. iQuote’s sophistication matches the technological advances in today’s Internet.

As iQuote is developed and maintained outside of the channel it is much more portable to businesses and the team here has built upon the basic process of generating a quote against complex products and taken it to new levels. That said I always thought that if we could replicate the success of the VAs with iQuote I would be happy – we’ve already exceeded that success!”

If you remember the Compaq (HP) Virtual Assistants please let us know: interested@channelcentral.net.