|Eclipse Users Group (UFO) Newsletter||March 2013|
Did you know? As a member of the Eclipse Users Group (UFO) you can have a direct impact on the Eclipse software that your organization uses every day! By accessing the IDEAS SITE from your Eclipse Users Group website login (on the top menu), you can post your great ideas on changes or enhancements to the Eclipse software and comment and vote on the ideas of other Eclipse users.
To bring more awareness to this great resource and powerful tool, we'll be adding featured ideas to the newsletter each month. We encourage you as an Eclipse user, and as a UFO member company, to review the ideas already there and to add any ideas your organization might have as well. And to make this tool more impactful for your organization, get those responsible for specific areas in your company involved by asking them to login and participate.
We hope you agree that this will be an invaluable piece of information for you and your organization each month!
Co-Chair, Marketing Committee
Eclipse Users Group/UFO Board
|March Training Classes Posted|
Check out the details on all of these March classes and presentations on our website.
Eclipse Users Group Training Classes
- Mar 6th & 7th - New Hire #1 & #2 Solar - Webinar
- Mar 14th - Customer Calling & Bid Follow Up Queue ETERM - Webinar
- Mar 19th - Set Your Sites on the Best-in-Market Web Solution - Schmitt Profit Tools Vendor Presentation - Webinar
- Mar 21st - Detail Scheduling Eterm & Solar - Webinar
- Mar 26th - Innovo Mobile Apps Demonstration - Innovo Vendor Partner Presentation - Webinar
- Mar 28th - Customer Calling & Bid Follow Up Queue SOLAR - Webinar
Remember you must be logged in to register.
|Enhancement Committee Update|
|by Chris Bohn, Enhancement Committee Chair, VP UFO Board|
2013 is shaping up to be an active year for the Enhancement Committee. We currently have release 8.7.5 in BETA. There are several Eclipse User Group enhancements in this release with the most exciting being the Product Life Cycle addition to the Core Eclipse product. This project started with a committee of Eclipse User Group members working with Eclipse to develop methods for tracking, promoting and selling / disposing of dead or near dead stock. You can expect to hear more about this major enhancement throughout the year. Additionally, there are User Group enhancements related to Excluding Product Demand by Customer, Vendor Return Policies, Superseded Product enhancements, and User-Defined Rules for Input Fields. All these great enhancements come from our members.
That is a great segue to remind all members that the Eclipse Ideas website is our primary means of posting and voting on ideas for inclusion in an upcoming Eclipse release. (Log into www.eclipseuser.com and click on IDEAS SITE in the menu!) My plea to you is to log in frequently, sign up for alerts for new additions to the ideas in the communities that interest you and vote! One of the great benefits to being a member of the user's group is that your company has access to all the benefits. We have Ideas Site Communities for Accounting, Advanced Technology, eCommerce, Inventory & Purchasing, Order Entry, Sales & Marketing Reporting, Showrooms, Solar, Systems & Utilities, and Warehouse Logistics. If your go-to person for each of these areas does not have an account to log into the Eclipse User's Group website, now is a great time to get them signed up and engaged in the Ideas Community of their choice. The more feedback we get, the better Eclipse becomes. If this sounds like a great idea (which it is!) your Eclipse User's Group Administrator can add additional login accounts. If you have any questions on how to set up more people, please go to the CONTACT menu on the User's Group website and any of the fine people listed will be more than happy to assist.
In mid-February, The Enhancement Committee, along with Epicor-Eclipse sponsored a remarkable event we called the Purchasing Deep Dive. The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate trends in purchasing, Inventory Management, and forecasting with the ultimate goal to add enhancements to Eclipse in an upcoming release, currently scheduled for 8.7.7 at the end of this year. We had fourteen Eclipse User Group members from twelve companies represented to provide ideas, feedback and pain points. To set the tone for the meeting and offer outside expertise, we had Dr. Barry Lawrence, Program Director of Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M, provide a full morning session of insight, trends, and ways of thinking about purchasing that set the team onto a path that will greatly enhance purchasing functions within Eclipse. By the end of the session, there were approximately 80 prioritized ideas for enhancements. You can expect great things from this session!
We are looking forward to a very active year and look forward even more to your ideas and votes!
Christopher Bohn, VP-Eclipse User's Group and Enhancement Committee Chair
|IDEAS - Featured Idea|
Inventory & Purchasing
Jeff Folino of Vellano Bros. would like to have two additional fields added to the purchase order header fields-Quoted By and Quote Number. Go to the Ideas site (Log into www.eclipseuser.com and click on IDEAS SITE in the top menu) to see the idea in more detail and to comment and/or vote!
We Don't Need No Stinking Marketing
By Rich Schmitt
For those UFO members who don't know, I write a monthly column for THE WHOLESALER, a magazine focused on plumbing, HVAC and PVF wholesalers called: Smart Management. I am also Executive Vice President of Schmitt ProfiTools, Inc. (SPI) a software and services company that provides webstores, content and more. Please go to www.go-spi.com/Eclipse to request more information.
Unlike this article's title I believe that marketing is a critical part of being a top-notch wholesaler. SPI is focused on helping wholesalers achieve their marketing objectives through Webstores, Mobile Webstores, Websites, Catalogs, Content and more.
For a quick look at tips regarding your online presence, please check out my brief interview from THE WHOLESALER on "Your Webstore, Your Way: In Today's Market You Need A Web Presence" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uaqv4ebK-Z4
Our channel has not, traditionally, been on the leading edge with regard to marketing activities over the years. I'm not sure exactly why, but here are some of the excuses I hear:
- "Marketing is for sissies": These are the cavemen-style wholesalers who think courting a customer is like courting a cave-girl in the mastodon period of wholesaling: "Find a customer you want, hit him over the head with a club and drag him back to the branch."
- "I have more business than I can handle already": As we all know, this is not the case for many in our industry these days.
- "Marketing is like bragging": Many wholesalers thought doing a good job was their marketing. To these wholesalers I would say, marketing is not bragging; it is simply telling your story.
- "Marketing is like lying or at least it's manipulative": To these wholesalers I would say, marketing is communicating what you are selling and how you can serve your target customers. It may be obvious to you but, I can assure you, it is NOT obvious to your existing and prospective customers.
- "My competitors suck at marketing. While we aren't great, we suck less than they do": The channel has been overall pretty lack-luster when it comes to marketing. It would be dumb to think that this is not changing and, I believe, it will change faster than we have ever experienced in the history of the industry. "Sucking-less" will not cut it going forward.
- "We do plenty of marketing already": "We give away hundreds of hats, thousands of hot dogs every year and we have our appreciation trip to Hawaii. If that isn't marketing, I don't know what is." Marketing is so much more than hats, hot dogs and Hawaii! (For my full article on this subject, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
You need to be marketing to your customers. What can you do about it and how can SPI help?
1. Websites/webstores and mobile - We are beyond the tipping point for websites, webstores and mobile. Our industry is deep into the transition toward online relationships. I try to say this whenever I am given the opportunity: "Websites, webstores and mobile are MARKETING activities." They are often implemented by your information technology team, but the project should be directed by your marketing team or whoever does marketing, even if marketing is not in their title. SPI is your one-stop shop for all three solutions and the product information to make them user friendly!
2. Differentiation - I think studies have shown that most buyers reduce most of their buying decisions down to two alternative providers. You may have numerous competitors but many customers will seriously consider only two wholesalers. Marketing activities should be designed to make your company one of the top two wholesalers in contractors' minds - and then do what it takes to be the first on the list. Don't settle for a second-rate webstore or the same webstore everyone else with Eclipse has. SPI can design and setup your webstore with your personalized look, feel and function. We can even provide the product content, images and descriptions you need for complete search results and the information your customers need to make a buying decision.
3. Spoon-feed your trade customers - Make sure you spell out in concrete terms why doing business with your company benefits your customers. Don't expect them to connect the dots. The best benefits are monetary because just about all customers are screaming or maybe just thinking, "Show me the money." Intangible gains have far less impact in changing buying patterns. SPI helps you by providing images and descriptions that are customer friendly, not just the short hand, upper case descriptions you use in your Eclipse system.
A couple of final thoughts
- Properly done, marketing does cost money but the idea is to make investments that provide reasonable returns. SPI's solution provides everything you need to compete with the big box stores at a fraction of the prices they are spending!
- If you find that something doesn't resonate with target customers, don't abandon marketing. Rather, try to understand why and adjust your approach.
- Whenever possible, test market any marketing programs with a handful of customers, get their feedback, adjust as needed, possibly test market again and then launch broadly. This is not a perfect process but if your test market customers are reasonably diverse, you improve your odds greatly.
To request information about our webstore and online solutions: Go to www.go-spi.com/Eclipse 314-872-9199
SAVE 5% WHEN YOU PURCHASE YOUR
WEB STOREFRONT SOFTWARE
Purchase Schmitt ProfiTools' Eclipse-Integrated Web Storefront software by 3/31/2013 and you'll receive a 5% discount on software setup and installation.
Mention this Eclipse Newsletter Coupon when you contact us at 314-872-9199 or email@example.com.
|Offer Expires: 3/31/2013|
|"The UFO Advice Column" User to User We All Improve|
|by "Uncle" Frank Ousterhout |
Dear Uncle Frank,
My IT guy keeps telling me to 'Use the UFO Bulletin Boards' and not bother him. Do I need special thumbtacks and what wall is that bulletin board on?
Fumble Fingers Fred
Egad! You are not already using the UFO Bulletin Boards? They contain a wealth of information and provide a platform to get answers YOU need. Many of your current issues were already creatively solved by others. Often an answer to a problem or challenge that you face can be quickly found on the UFO Bulletin Boards. If your solution is not already on a BB, then just ask a question on the BB and you will often get thoughtful responses from talented, experienced Eclipse users. There are 18 Forums with 8,000 Threads (topics) and over 33,000 posts on those Threads! What a storehouse of Eclipse User knowledge.
To use this valuable asset, use your personal login for the UFO website at www.EclipseUser.com . Member login is at the top right. If you don't already have a login, your company IT person or UFO contact can easily set you up with one.
After checking out the current Free Training opportunities, and free educational videos, enter the Bulletin Boards.
Topics are grouped in Forums. When you enter a Forum, you will see the topic (Title/Thread Starter) that has the most recent posting. The envelope icon changes as you go in and out of topics. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the Icon Legend information. Go to a Forum and find a topic of interest and then open it to see the various responses. You can return to the full Forum with your back button or click on the Forum name above the 'reply to Thread'.
Now, here is the neat part. These BB are fully searchable with many ways to search, basic or advanced, within the Forum or across all Forums. Really useful!
Feel free to respond to Threads, contact individuals on Threads, or print them out for ease of use using 'Thread Tools'.
Finally, you can 'subscribe' to a Thread or even a full BB Forum and you will be notified of new postings. You decide the frequency that you will get notified. Just click on 'Thread Tools' or 'Forum Tools'. Then the BB will send you all to the topic or Thread based on your desired method and frequency of contact. I like to get daily updates by email. Besides topics that I follow, I subscribe to the 'User Created Report' Forum. ANY posting to that Forum sends me a notification. Report Writer and Mass Load are two of my best geek friends so I am always interested in useful reports generated by others.
If you have a question for "Uncle Frank" please send it to Mary Barlow
. Put Uncle Frank in the Subject Line.
The Future of eCommerce
|by Second Phase|
Second Phase has been providing eCommerce web sites for Eclipse customers for the last 8 years and providing web based solutions for the past 15 years. This long history with web solutions gives us a unique perspective on making sense of important trends in eCommerce and what they mean for the distribution companies that we exclusively work with. Based on input from our own customers and research like the recently published "The State of Distributor eCommerce, 2013" article in Modern Distribution Management magazine, the following is our list of the trends that we feel matter most for distributors:
Increase eCommerce usage:
Over the last couple of years there have been major gains in web based sales transactions from existing and new customers. Distribution companies that were already seeing 10% or more of their sales coming from web based transactions saw their web revenue double in 2012[i]. This means that companies that have already taken eCommerce serious are beginning to see some major returns on their investment. One of the main reasons for this trend is the dramatic improvements in ease of use of the eCommerce process. This has meant that the emphasis of the website needs to switch from a template, non-standards based, search engine unfriendly solution to a solution that looks and feels like the most successful eCommerce companies (like Grainger, Amazon) and allows you to buy wherever you are with a mobile friendly option.
In today's market, customers need a quality buying experience that makes them feel like your company is a major player including features like dynamic drill downs so you can find products in 2 clicks, social media so they can easily tell others about your products, express checkout so they can quickly place the order, excellent shipment tracking, special pricing and payment terms, mobile focused user interface so they can buy anywhere, and much more. The days of putting up a generic eCommerce solution and expecting it to meet your customers' needs are over.
For new customers, none of this will happen if they don't find the website in the first place which makes a search engine friendly website and a search engine optimization (SEO) plan critical to increasing the number of web based transactions. The ability to show up in the top tier of a search result requires a long term plan and a web site that makes it possible.
2012 was the year that mobile device users started to really perform actual eCommerce transactions on a smart phone or tablet. In fact a variety of sources showed that mobile based eCommerce usage doubled in 2012, now representing between 20-30% of all eCommerce transactions. This can be traced to the proliferation of mobile optimized user interfaces that make it easier to find and purchase products on smaller screens.
Product data, account information, product reviews, product availability is expected to be accurate, more informative than your competition, and work seamlessly with existing account information. The trend to use 3rd party eCommerce solutions that are not tightly integrated with your ERP system is on the way out because the existing client expects real time product pricing and availability, seamless order processing (based on PO's, credit cards, paypal, etc...), use of existing ship vias, excellent order tracking, and account management all within their existing Eclipse account. For product data and images it is important to be able to bring in a variety of data sources outside of Eclipse, including pictures and data from your suppliers, data from 3rd party data services, trade group provided information, regulatory agencies and much more. The bottom line is that the customer should be able to find everything they need to make a buying decision in one location, easily order the products, and then be able to track their buying history.
Increasing the Size of Each Order
The final significant trend we see is the ability to increase the average order size per check out. Amazon led the way on this trend and it has finally come to the distribution industry. This includes features like:
- Suggested products (also called: others have bought, you will also need, we recommend),
- Promotional tools to handle coupons/free shipping/buy over $XX to get YY% off, product specific discounts and more,
- Purchase product groups and import purchasing files (punch-out, custom purchase order system interfaces, import order spreadsheet/CSV files, etc...) so it is easier to repeat orders of large groups of products,
- Intelligent banner ads that are specific to different product categories to help cross sell,
- Product reviews for unbiased product opinions,
- Live chat to quickly get answers,
- Client specific buyers guides to give client specific pricing, products, promos, and much more.
All of these features make it easier for a customer to get the information they need to maximize their order, basically duplicating the capabilities of a top sales person on the web.
The bottom-line is the time to upgrade your website to take advantage of these eCommerce trends is now. The return on investment for a state of art eCommerce solution integrated cleanly into the whole website (not hidden behind an "online shopping" link with a completely different design) and your Eclipse system is proven by current data showing dramatic growth curves in eCommerce transactions.
For a live demo on any of the described eCommerce features mentioned in this article or to find out about our entry level eCommerce system for existing Web Order Entry customers, please contact Second Phase at 303-582-9326 or firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.secondphase.net.
[i] Bein, Jonathan, "The State of Distributor eCommerce: 2013" Modern Distribution Management, Jan. 25, 2013
Users Group Members
Existing Web Order Entry users
33% off our current XML Web Commerce product costs for Entry Level Version (1)
New eCommerce users
Free standard option upgrade (up to $2000 value)
Contact us by April 30 to get on our list and secure your discounts at:
email@example.com or 303-582-9326
(1) Entry level version should be ready by end of May
|Offer Expires: 3/31/2013|
|Automating the Credit Hold/Release Process|
By John Heinzel; Business Analyst, Revere Electric Supply Co, Inc.
At our company we've struggled to educate our order writers on what they need to do when an order indicates Shipping Ticket on Hold. Our credit managers - those who can release an order from hold - do not want to receive unnecessary messages, emails, and phone calls from order writers, and we do not want our order writers unnecessarily bothering the credit managers about orders on hold. Thankfully Eclipse has all the tools needed to automate the process, as long as the order writers and credit managers understand how to use the tools.
First, order writers need to understand that an order is not on credit hold until it is available to ship. For Directs or Procurements, an order is not on hold until there is an attempt to print/fax/email the document to the vendor. Until then, Shipping Ticket on Hold
indicates a future possibility, not a current status. After all, the customer may send in a check or their credit limit may be raised at any time before the order is available to ship. Asking a credit manager to release an order from Credit Hold when the order is not actually on credit hold is a waste of time. Let the system work!
When an order generation goes on Credit Hold, the status will change to C - Call when Complete, the change log will indicate: Credit Hold - Set to 'Call When Complete',and the order will be in the Open Order Status Review Queue as a Credit item. If the order is not in the Open Order Status Review Queue as a Credit item, then the order is not on credit hold.
The Open Order Status Review Queue is the key for the credit managers. In Solar Eclipse, credit managers can have a widget for this queue so they will know when orders go on hold. From the queue they can Release from hold, or enter a Credit Override amount for Direct or Procurement orders. When a Credit Override is done, the order writer gets a tracker so they can get back in the order and send their Direct P/O or create their Procurement PO. Warning: The Clear Hold option removes an order from the queue without changing anything, so unless someone manually changes the order back to a shipping status, the order is effectively dead, yet still allocating inventory.
Credit card orders where a valid card is saved to the order will not go on Credit Hold if the Authorization Method for the saved card is set to Authorize Only Before Shipment. The system will authorize the card to hold those funds, and if the authorization is successful, then the order will ship. Later on (exactly when depends on how you have it scheduled) the Credit Card Authorization phantom will complete the authorization and apply the payment to the invoice.
For an order writer, if you know an order is likely to have many generations, you may wish to prevent each generation from going on hold. Contact the credit manager and request a Credit Override for the whole order. A Credit Override sets a credit limit for an individual order, regardless of the credit status of the customer, so that all generations of the order will ship up to the dollar amount set. Get out of the order before contacting the credit manager, as they cannot set a credit override if you are editing the order.
Disclaimer The information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by UFO and while we endeavor to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to this newsletter or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the newsletter for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data arising out of, or in connection with, the use of the information in this newsletter.