How Single-Source Software Solutions Can Up Your Marketing Game, Part Two
Last week, Print+Promo spoke to DemandBridge Chairman and CEO David Rich about the benefits of single-source software solutions. It was an enlightening conversation that covered everything from “Big Marketing” strategies to platform investment pros and cons. Are you closer to making a decision, but still unsure if this is right for you and your business? In part two of our discussion, Rich details specific components of DemandBridge’s offerings, including what to expect during the onboarding process and how having the right partner can help.
Can you briefly describe the three parts of DemandBridge’s software platform (DB Commerce, DB Distributor and DB Sourcing)? Do you typically recommend that distributors use the integrated platform, or is there a benefit to purchasing these components as standalone offerings?
David Rich: The DemandBridge platform has four major components that help distributors and brands streamline their marketing content and collateral for online and offline distribution and execution:
- DB Commerce, formerly DB Enterprise and Q-Net, provides a world-class customer experience with the option to utilize real-time editing and a full suite of digital content options to truly offer your clients the most complete marketing platform available. Users arrive at a brand-specific site where their permissions dictate what they see and how it is presented. Regulatory measures may be employed for business rules during customization, asset management, approvals, title compliance, budget, etc. Integrations simplify steps from single sign-on to data imports, or order processing from partner networks. DB Commerce now also includes a two-way integration to CRM Solutions.
- DB Distributor, includes the former TopForm, Kramer-Smilko and e-Quantum “back-ends,” provides the software for inventory and fulfillment management, logistics, accounting and the workflow management of e-commerce ordering and storefronts.
- DB Sourcing and DB Alliance provides the ability to manage a sourcing exchange. Whether your preference is for a private supplier network or a true public sourcing exchange, DemandBridge has the solution for you. DB Sourcing is an industry-specific, fully integrated tool that puts sourcing and project management at the users' fingertips, empowering them to organize, quote and manage jobs more effectively. The DB Alliance sourcing exchange aggregates the collective purchasing power of distributors and brings suppliers to one marketplace benefiting distributors and suppliers alike.
- DB Reporting provides the data warehousing, dashboards and analytics tools necessary to report anyway, anywhere and in one view. Imagine your DB Commerce, DB Sourcing and DB Distributor data living together in one consolidated view. This is now possible with our move to the Azure cloud and the deployment of Power BI (and soon other related Microsoft tools). This will make it easy to design your own custom reports that showcase visualizations for things like total spend, order count, items ordered and shipment summary. Whether it is delivering the information your customers need in a customized format, brand and layout, or internal management and data analytics.
These tools are fully integrated and provide solutions for time-consuming marketing efforts through an easy-to-navigate, custom interface. The platform also helps to build relationships and provide valuable services for customers, allowing distributors to be true partners in their marketing and sales efforts. Though they can be bought and used separately, the power is in the end-to-end capability. With our SaaS model, distributors can get all the data, applications and APIs needed in one place—or select only the ones appropriate for their business.
Can you describe the training or onboarding process for distributors that are new to your software?
DR: Distributors who onboard to our systems have the ability to select what level of training and onboarding they require based on their internal resources and users of the platform. Everyone learns at varying speeds and at different levels and the DemandBridge team can customize training and onboarding accordingly. This includes customized demonstrations, live and virtual training sessions, phone support, tip guides, training videos and much more.
How do you convince distributors that the cost and transition associated with switching to a single-source software solution will be worth it in the end?
DR: Cost is always a concern, no matter the size or scope of a company using technology, just as cost is a concern amongst end-users. That’s why distributors emphasize the total value of what they offer clients, not the price. We emphasize value also. We want to make sure distributors get value for what they’re paying and things like the e-commerce tools help you earn new business (thus, improve the top line), while the ERP/sourcing tools automate the back-office functions (thus improve the bottom line). And, with the move to the Microsoft (Azure) Cloud you get an elastic IT/computing infrastructure to reduce the total cost of IT ownership. We’ve been very encouraged by the results we have seen within the distributors who embrace our platforms and face new realities of an end-user’s marketing team. More “touch points”—digital, print, email, mobile, social, CRM, etc.—means more opportunities for marketers to connect with customers. Keeping interactions consistent across multiple channels, creating a seamless experience for customers and quickly determining how to optimize spend necessitates an “always-on” engine. By supplying that engine, DemandBridge can help distributors drive more business.
Can you describe the role an ERP solution plays in integrating the supply chain between suppliers, distributors and end-buyers? What is the ultimate goal for this type of solution?
DR: This industry is about connectivity and partnerships. Together, distributors and manufacturers seek to operate more efficiently, empower clients in new ways and win more business.
ERP innovation leads to exactly that kind of acceleration. The right technology can help distributors approach new prospects with confidence, to fine-tune back-end operations, and to connect more effectively with clients and trade partners. We want our clients to pull in customers and put away aspirin bottles.
No one would argue that having deeper connections with progressive supply-chain partners is smart and mutually beneficial. Too often, the industry views these alliances as standard rather than strategic.
One tool in our platform, DB Sourcing, addresses that issue. The tool is predicated on the belief that we are strongest together.
Let’s approach the industry from all sides: customers and brands count on distributors to help them achieve the best possible pricing for their print, promo and marketing services needs. Distributors rely on technology partners to provide valuable solutions to assist in offering these services and to win and maintain accounts. And suppliers crave access and opportunity.
With DB Sourcing, distributors can leverage their combined spend along with their peers in the industry to lower costs and increase margins. Customers receive market-competitive pricing as jobs are sourced to industry-vetted suppliers. And suppliers receive quote requests and job specifications from their various distributor partners in a consistent format, through one common portal. New distributor/supplier connections are facilitated, and existing relationships are strengthened. Everyone benefits from increased efficiency in quoting and order entry processes, less offline communication and a consistent way of doing business.
What advice do you have for distributors looking to invest in new software for their business?
DR: No matter what size, distributors are constantly looking to increase productivity, efficiency and performance. Certainly, the implementation of new technology can accomplish that; however, how one chooses to introduce those technologies can make or break their success. Our advice? The correct technology partner to meet your end-to-end needs. And with careful conversion preparation, data integration, training/workflow implementation and disciplined execution ... evolve your business to provide an omni-channel experience. The key being an automation path that is seamlessly integrated and painlessly adopted.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.