E-commerce offers in B2C segments open up new opportunities, especially for companies that use new innovations due to the increasing expectations on the customer end, thus allowing businesses to continuously move forward. The demands for individual product design with fast delivery capability and the highest possible price and process transparency are predominant.
For larger manufacturing companies, these requirements can only be applied to a limited extent due to B2B-driven business processes. Here it is rather a matter of ensuring the necessary coordination in the definition of quality and quantity with appropriate pricing directly between buyer and seller.
For some years now, even larger manufacturing companies have been noticing how the focus of requirements has expanded from the B2C segment to the B2B segment. The question now arises how well their own processes and the existing system landscape can meet these requirements and what possibilities do companies have to meet them?
Supply chain management (SCM) also needs demand chain management (DCM)
For many companies, the use and optimization of supply chain management for setting up and managing integrated logistics processes across the entire value chain is now part of their standard repertoire. A greater potential for optimization is often seen in transport and logistics optimization.
In the context of its stronger focus on the customer, however, SCM has in the past paid insufficient attention to the demand perspective. New manufacturing processes and the ability to analyze information flows (Big Data) can enable better collaboration between suppliers, customers, and all supply chain members, higher efficiency (e.g. lower inventory levels) and faster responses to customer needs.
This is where DCM comes in to match supply and demand. In a three-step process, it is advisable to understand customer needs, develop usable, alternative and modular service offerings, and ultimately increase operational efficiency with customer involvement.
This is where systems can be meaningfully integrated that reliably support planning scenarios through simulation options and forecasts, but also make coordination processes more transparent and faster by having all data consolidated and centrally accessible.
Guided Selling and automated offer processes
Especially in the CPQ process for products with many variants, the preparation of quotations can take on complex dimensions, which can lead to long preparation times and incorrect quotations. As a result, deals are at risk.
This is where an intelligent Guided Selling Tool can support your sales staff by suggesting the options that best suit the customer’s needs via a set of rules, and which can finally be produced. The configuration of the product itself can be taken into account, but also, for example, machine utilization, the availability of raw materials and delivery options.
An automated quote-to-cash process also guides sales staff through cost accounting and quotation generation. This prevents mistakes that could lead to a failed deal. It also shortens the time between quotation and receipt of payment, as other departments in the company can gain early insight into the activities.
Seamless processing and data handling in the quote-to-cash process
In the quote-to-cash process, seamless processing and data handling is of decisive importance for modern and reliable order management. Especially in industries with declining margins, data quality is extremely important to enable reliable pricing decisions. In order to enable this data quality, the data must be available as a consistent data basis from specialized services and systems in one system and must be processed in a user-friendly manner. On the other hand, the individual systems can benefit from the higher data quality of the other services and systems.
Interface development is therefore of great importance in order to avoid system breaks, which would otherwise require error-prone manual data acquisition and processing.
Product or variant flexibility
In the face of increasing cost competition, the ability to respond flexibly to customer requirements can provide a strategic competitive advantage for companies. In addition to the technological superiority and the quality of the products, the flexibility of being able to offer customers products in variants tailored to their respective requirements or situation is one of the ways to differentiate oneself from competitors and compensate cost disadvantages.
Especially in the case of products with many variants, this is nowadays only possible with a product configurator that is able to represent the product properties reliably and in detail, is easy to use and works quickly.
The more detailed the individual properties and production costs of the end product can be recorded, the more accurately prices with different quantity calculations for different variants can ultimately be retrieved by a system.
The simplicity of a product configurator is reflected in its ability to enable employees to make configuration adjustments to the products after a short learning phase. This can be achieved by using a WYSIWYG editor, for example.
Multi-channel was yesterday, cross-channel is today
Multi-channel has long been considered an important guarantee for successful customer relations and offers customers the opportunity to submit their enquiries to a company through various channels. Besides the simple administration of customer data, this was an important function in a CRM system. Unfortunately, due to the focus on information in the respective areas, the data was isolated e.g. between sales, marketing and service and was only communicated to a limited extent between the back office or production.
However, the expectations of customers and interested parties have changed considerably in recent years. They not only use different end devices, but also different purchasing and communication channels – and not just one after the other (multi-channel), but simultaneously (cross-channel) for the same transaction. While one channel is used to obtain information about products and services, another channel is used to purchase goods. A third channel is used to pay and a fourth channel is used to purchase a similar product. The customer also wants to be able to track the availability of products and the delivery status of his order at all times. In enabling sales, customer service, production and logistics to provide comprehensive support for the customer at every stage of his customer journey, it is essential that they have access to current data on the purchase history at all times.
What is still possible on a small scale via agreements is a considerable effort for larger companies. Here, the cross-channel approach provides a solution and concentrates on capturing all customer interactions in one interface and making them available to all necessary company departments at any time.
Collaborative sales processes
Collaborative sales processes are not a new concept. sales representatives have always relied on others to provide sufficient advice to prospective customers and win an order. However, the buying process is becoming increasingly complex due to changing customer expectations. Customers expect a salesperson to have in-depth knowledge of the products and services.
Only through technical experts who can work together and quickly as a team and exchange information, can sales representatives also have the opportunity to demonstrate solid knowledge and the performance of the company.
If additional partners are involved in the process, collaborative sales processes create a sense of community and an early connection in the sales process that extends across the entire customer journey.
Security and transparency have priority
Data security and data transparency are becoming increasingly important for customers and interested parties. In addition, the legal requirements are increasing with country-specific specifications.
This requires a technical IT infrastructure that prevents hackers, for example, from gaining direct access to customer and user data. In addition, data center locations are recommended to comply with data localization laws.
However, the collection and maintenance of the various customer data must also be carried out in compliance with the law. To make this possible, your customers should have insight and control over their data at all times. The collection of data should be carried out by an upfront consent management system.
Many developments today already show the necessity but also the potential of a customer-focused company orientation in order management. The complexity but also the performance of software that addresses these new requirements is continuously increasing. With new technologies, further possibilities and challenges will arise in the coming years.
With Aicomp you invest in efficiency, agility, and innovation and achieve:
- Faster and more accurate quote generation
- Higher customer satisfaction through a tailor-made customer journey
- Reduction of effort in data maintenance and data processing
- Greater flexibility in offering and delivering your products
Talk to us! We would be pleased to support you with your digital agenda.