The markets for glass and construction materials are changing in fundamental ways, competition is increasing. New competitors attempt to score points with prices that are basically ruinous -- surely the wrong way to keep up with everyone else. Innovative business ideas are required.
But where is the potential for innovations? With generally thoroughly good product quality it is becoming ever more important for the producers to define themselves through intelligent services in addition to product innovations.
Here, the focus is on observing the sales channels more precisely and optimizing them: New sales paths can shorten the path to the customer and create real added value for all participating partners.
Everybody has a browser - everywhere!
Thus a reliable and easy-to-operate tool for browser-based product configuration - without an installed ERP system, on the go, and flexibly - is a very interesting sales tool for retail and assembly companies, but also for end customers and a company's own sales force. Inquiries, offers, and orders are thus processed more quickly and easily, and also more securely.
But the manufacturers can also improve their processes this way: All too often, when it comes to automation and improvement of logistics, producers are too focused on production. However inte-grated information processing and process organization begin with the inquiry for an offer and end with improved shipping logistics. Here there is also a lot of optimization potential!
Configuration with A+W iQuote
Currently, at A+W customers, the Web configurator A+W iQuote is being tested, with which even highly-complex products can be configured directly in the Web browser and ordered, taking into full account the master data and restrictions of the producer. Sales processes are speeded up and simplified. There will also be a A+W iQuote version for the customers of construction materials (see figure above).
For the configuration using A+W iQuote users are led intuitively through the process, clear through to the completely-calculated offer including a graphically-appealing drawing. Thanks to the high degree of integration with the manufacturer's A+W ERP system, products, prices, discounts, and restrictions are always up-to-date. Of course it is possible to configure individually which parameters should be displayed - for price transparency is not desired for every product configuration.
The producer thus has with A+W iQuote a 24/7 order recording system, like the ones we know from the B2C world. He saves himself many telephone inquiries, misunderstandings, and inquiries about products that cannot be made, for they are caught by the system. Here, almost all inquiry and order options of the 'large' A+W ERP system are available:
He can request quotations and place orders
The operation is intuitive and easy, trainings and instruction are not required
Depending on the settings, there is a selected spectrum of insulated glass, tempered safety glass, and special glasses available.
All shapes and processings can be ordered
The customer sees the complete order history, can remove or add products to the shopping cart.
But be careful: Personal contact with the customer should not be neglected due to this new sales channel! Producers and resellers are well-advised to continue offering telephone support and per-sonal dealer support. Thus, A+W iQuote is an additional exciting option, which, however, should not compromise a personal supplier-customer relationship.
New target group
It is safe to assume that handworkers and dealers will also be happy to use an online configurator since it eliminates the "effort" associated with classic order recording -- if the online configurator like A+W iQuote offers easy and intuitive access to more complex variant configurations. Browser-based configuration also offers an easy tool for the producer's sales force employees.
The embedding in an existing homepage is possible, as is the adaptation to the 'look and feel' of a company's own CI. Therefore, A+W recommends integrating A+W iQuote as much as possible into the existing system environment.
Dr. Michael Küttner, A+W Software GmbH