What do distributors want from their business management software systems?
Intuit® Eclipse™ had some answers and invited feedback from its customers at its 2006 user conference at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in ChampionsGate, FL, Oct. 18-21. The theme of the event was, “Working Together, Succeeding Together.”
Distributors want more information at their fingertips and more tools to manage their data, according to Michael Honig, director, sales and business development, at Intuit Eclipse.
They want to automate transactions such as rebates and special pricing authorizations, said Jody Perry, director, product management.
A timelined system that details inventory hits will help the distributor make better business decisions, said Josh Bultz, custom solutions team manager. It makes a difference if the company sells 10 of product X at one time to one customer vs. 10 of product Y on 10 different occasions to different customers.
If a customer calls the accounts receivable department asking how much he owes, a distributor with the proper software can access exactly what is owed as of that day instead of searching through hard copies of statements.
“Our customers can click on inventories from 1999,” Bultz said. “They can drill down into the order and get the full details. They can go back to the first day they were on Eclipse.”
Nearly 600 of the more than 40,000 users of Eclipse software in North America, representing more than 230 companies, attended the user conference. They could choose from 26 different training classes, including: “Daily Queues: Best Business Practices,” “RF Warehousing: Best Business Practices,” “EDI: Best Business Practices,” and “Purchasing & Inventory Control Parameters.”
The current president of the User Friendly Organization (UFO) is Larry McMullin of Harry Cooper Supply, Springfield, MO. Today electrical and PHCP distributors comprise about 80% of its customers.
The Eclipse user group meets regularly with Intuit Eclipse to share problems, recommendations and comments, McMullin said. “Improving operating efficiency and profitability is why we are here,” he added.
The company’s customers include about 220 PHCP distributors, 180 electrical distributors, 40 industrial distributors and 30 to 50 HVAC distributors.
Its customers range from small mom-and-pop operations with seven users to large multi-branch distributors with up to 6,000 concurrent users.
“Distributors compete on price and service differently,” Perry said. “We want to offer ways to add value.”
Additional tools that Eclipse can provide include finding if an out-of-stock product is procurable from another source; setting up tolerance for price variation from specific vendors; and creating job queues and task automation.
All of the products and features offered by Intuit Eclipse are a result of information provided by its clients over the years, said David Merenbach, general manager. He reminded attendees that Intuit Eclipse was selected as America’s most admired software company in 2006 by Fortune magazine.
Intuit Eclipse has about 35 customers in the Wit buying group and nearly all are now using Wit-net for automated sharing of information up the channel, according to Jeff Balentine, advanced technologies manager.
When customers reported problems with one of its products, Intuit Eclipse responded by creating teams of staffers to address their concerns, according to Keith Watson, director, product development.
“In our support office we created a transition team, so when a customer gets upgraded or goes live on the software, all calls were routed to a team of four to five people who could address all of the issues,” said Robin Newman, product manager of the Intuit Eclipse Release 8 e-term product.