With the disruption of COVID-19, efficiency in showrooms and distribution centers is more important than ever. The PHCP-PVF industry is having to adjust to changes while continuing to move product and reduce overall spending. DDI System, a distributor focused e-commerce and ERP software solution, gives an outlook on how technology in this realm is changing to fit supply chain needs. 

What economic factors are affecting the distribution and supply industry right now?

As distributors continue to adjust to the new reality of today, and with many businesses still on hold, the challenge of managing unusual and variable supply and demand is taking a toll on inventory management practices. In addition, balancing remote employees and virtual operations was unexpected and mostly unplanned-for, and continues to challenge the everyday operations of many distributors.

What new technologies do you see developing within the distribution software market? How are these technologies shaping the industry?

The shopping journey as we know it has significantly shifted, with a stronger need for an enhanced online consumer experience. Having an ERP connected webstore that delivers the same experience whether online or in-store and offers rich content, filtered navigation, advanced search capabilities and a superior, connected customer portal, will allow you to keep up with the changing needs of your online customer.

What are the greatest pain points you are hearing from customers at this time? How is DDI working to solve those? 

Due to social distancing guidelines, more and more customers are searching and shopping online. It takes strong product content, a concerted effort to set up and manage an online store and an investment in a provider that understands your customer to provide a great ecommerce platform. If any of these efforts fail, then you miss the sale. DDI System’s Inform E-commerce Pro platform is designed for distributors and delivers an out-of-the-box solution to get you up and running fast with dozens of options for future growth. Our team helps distributors acquire and load rich content and attain the necessary set up steps while providing a seamless connection to their ERP software. This connection delivers orders that meet customer-specific requirements, eliminates duplicate entry and achieves quick ROI.

What trends can you speak to that are specific to the PHCP-PVF and HVAC distribution market? 

With showrooms being closed and a significant reduction in counter traffic, distributors are looking to reach customers through an enhanced online shopping experience with multiple payment and delivery options. Curbside pickup, locker pickup and the ability to send SMS order status messaging are just a few of the latest trends we have seen in the PHCP-PVF and HVAC markets.

What are the most important ways the supply chain benefits from a distribution software?

Having an ERP software that is purpose-built for PHCP-PVF and HVAC distributors and includes industry-specific workflows is imperative to achieve operation excellence, especially in today’s changing market. Best practices in pricing, demand planning, multi-branch inventory and accounting, useful CRM and of course, connected ecommerce, allows distributors to maximize performance without the complication of third-party software.

When thinking of new offerings or features for clients, what are the key things on your mind? 

Easy adoption and affordability — our distributors do not have large IT departments, so we need to develop software that is user-friendly and understandable. Especially these days, distributors need to be able to use advanced tools at affordable prices to continue to drive profit.

Does DDI have any new technology developments coming this year? 

E-commerce Pro is DDI System’s third-generation e-commerce platform. Unlike our previous customer portals and web stores, E-commerce Pro is a marriage of market-leading technologies tied together in a decoupled platform that allows for customization, differentiation and speed. A decoupled web store gives distributors endless opportunities to personalize the online user experience while still maintaining a seamless connection to Inform ERP for real-time pricing, stock and order fulfillment rules. Later this year, we will be launching Inform Sales Cloud for a complete mobile ordering experience.

What do you think is most important for a successful e-commerce platform? Why should distributors be investing in this now? 

Easy “sign on” and visibility into company specific prices, quotes, orders and stock availability along with online credit card processing, bill pay and the integration of tax options all make for a well-executed e-commerce experience.

Investing in software helps eliminate redundant processes and provide easy analysis of ongoing project demand, lead time and inventory counts. Distributors have so much more control over inventory and accounting, in turn improving accuracy in all of those areas.