Selling Big with Technology
What's the Value?
The value of enterprise software is three-fold. The first, and most obvious, benefit is automation. The whole point of enterprise software is to allow to sell more to a larger number of clients. "To be able to grow a distributorship, you really have to automate the processes in your companies," said Godfrey. Beyond that though, and what separates enterprise software from more basic e-commerce solutions, is the ability to control and customize the customer experience.
Through stores personalized to each customer, you're able to expose clients to products they might not have known you can provide, without turning them loose on the entirety of the print and promotional industries. You can hand-pick the suppliers and items your client will work with, letting you limit their choices to items you know are of good quality, are provided by a reputable source, or simply will best serve their needs. This controlled product curation keeps you a valuable part of the sales equation, since your opinion and expertise still guide their buying experience. It also allows you to deepen your relationship with customers, since they'll have to ask you about adding to products to their store.
How to Evaluate Enterprise Software
Integrating enterprise software into your company is no small matter. Not only will it be a core part of your company's workflow, but it will also directly interact with your customers and supplier partners. Therefore, it's important to be able to determine whether a particular software product is a good fit for your company. Dale Denham, MAS+, CIO for promotional distributorship Geiger, Lewiston, Maine, shared his thoughts on how to come to a good decision.
"Evaluating e-commerce platforms today is a very, very tough business when you are looking outside of this industry at 'standard' e-commerce systems," he said. "Most distributors should not look beyond the industry service providers, because the cost is at least $100,000 to set up a reasonable website with product data, and keeping the product data up-to-date is very expensive. Geiger has our own platform, but also uses industry sites as well.