The Internet has completely transformed the way we purchase goods and services. Travel booking now happens on sites like Expedia, cars are ordered with Uber and restaurant tables are booked with OpenTable. Technology has made it easier than ever for consumers to process a vast array of choices and instantly make purchases.
So why isn’t there a similar service for our industry? Wouldn’t dealers love a single place to see all their product lines and submit orders to their suppliers? Don’t manufacturers and distributors want to be as easy as possible for dealers to do business with? They absolutely do, but it turns out that it’s just not as simple to create as you may think.
Why Most CI Manufacturers Don't Offer Web Ordering
Over 75% of manufacturers in our industry still cannot accept orders from dealers on their current websites.
Sounds crazy, but it’s not due to a lack of desire. It’s because wholesale industries are very, very difficult to automate.
Unlike consumer websites where products can be purchased from anybody for a consistent retail price, wholesale industries are highly controlled with many variables to consider. Manufacturers need to control who is authorized to sell their products, what territories they can sell them in, which rep or distributor to place orders through, and most importantly… which price each dealer pays.
Toss incentive programs into the mix and multiply it all by 10,000+ dealers and you’ve got business logic that is overwhelmingly complex.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Once you automate the logic you now need to build a scalable backend platform, design a mobile, user friendly front end, develop an iPhone app, layer on a payment processing solution and then connect it all to your ERP and logistics provider. Oh, and you’ll need to budget at least $1M to make it all happen.
To do it right, you would need to become a web development company, which is not what manufacturers and distributors do best. This is why our industry has been so slow to adapt, and it is evidenced by the trend of dealers choosing to buy an increasing amount of product from sites like Amazon – it’s just easier. If this all sounds rather bleak, don’t worry; there is a new solution that may just forever change the way business is done in our industry.
Imagine a platform that manufacturers and distributors can leverage, allowing them to start accepting web orders in less than a week, for free.
Portal's Big Investment
Five years ago a group of former dealers got together and set out to solve a problem that has plagued the industry for years. They wanted to make it easier to manage their product data and pricing so that creating proposals and managing purchasing wasn’t such a pain.
There are 10,000+ dealers that are all simultaneously hand entering product data from spreadsheets and supplier websites every day. This is a major duplication of effort across the industry. Why couldn’t the entire industry of product data be in one place that everyone shared? The team started off by loading vendor and supplier product data into a web database by hand, eventually building an engine to automate the collection of data for the industry.
Today, Portal contains every SKU in the industry, over 700,000 items, and a data feed engine that updates pricing and availability for over 200,000 skus daily.
One by one, Portal built in all the controls that dealers and manufacturers asked for: Territory restrictions, orders routing rules, multiple pricing tiers and even support for order delivery to reps and distributors.
Eventually a proposal creation tool was added, as well as integrations with D-tools and Quickbooks.
Manufacturers took notice after more than 5000 dealers signed up, and what began as a project to solve product data for dealers actually turned out to be the solution for the ultimate ecommerce dealer portal for the industry.
A New Vendor 'Portal Program'
To take it a step further, Portal recently launched a dedicated “Portal Program” specifically designed for manufacturers, reps and distributors; and it’s now live with more than 20 initial companies.
The following vendors are the first to use Portal as their approved dealer portal:
In less than a week, suppliers can be up and running with a state-of-the-art dealer portal, supported by a dedicated team of 15 full time web experts, including award winning dealer support.
Setup is simple: suppliers provide a product data feed along with their dealer list including price tiers and Portal takes care of the rest. Each dealer is pre-loaded so when the they sign up, they are automatically unlocked and ready to instantly place orders. There are no setup fees and it’s free to accept orders from your existing customer base. The service is also free for dealers. Portal generates revenue on optional value-added services.
“The Portal platform and their team are incredible. Our reps have fully embraced the program and we are already seeing more consistent orders flowing in over the web. Our dealers now have a sweet proposal tool as well. This program was a no-brainer for URC.”
National Sales Director
Portal helps the industry do business. It streamlines the ordering process for dealers, and saves them time keeping track of product information and pricing. It allows suppliers to provide dealers with an award winning e-commerce experience while improving order processing efficiency, at no cost to get started or maintain.
Learn more at www.portal.io.
For more information please contact:
VP Supplier Services
VP Strategic Partnerships