The pricing and quotation process can be time-consuming and inconsistent. The remedy lies in technology with automated software and websites. Quite simply, the time savings are significant. “When the integration of a product database is tied to your quotation and order systems, then you’re eliminating the need for duplicate data entry, not to mention removing excess errors due to rekeying,” says Rob Watson, vice president of digital experience for ASI. “If your order system is a good one, then you can convert your quote into an order with a single click – increasing efficiency and service to your customers.”
Standard price lists should be, well, standard for screen printers and decorators; yet “many printing companies both large and small don’t develop or use a standardized pricing model/strategy,” says JP Hunt, vice president of sales and marketing for software company InkSoft. “This results in inconsistent pricing, profitability issues and the inability to accurately forecast financial performance.” InkSoft helps users solve these issues by allowing printing businesses to enter their product pricing, print pricing and other pricing variables such as quantity discounts. It allows users browsing the company’s website to generate a “quick quote” to see pricing. “This self-service saves time,” Hunt says, “and provides a convenient way for a shopper to request information.”
Watson says the vast majority (nearly 90%) of promotional items is found by distributors and decorators through the Web and search engines like ESP. Still, the actual e-commerce experience in the industry is small but growing since “the promotional products industry is one relied on heavily by face-to-face interaction and phone conversations,” Watson says. Many customers simply want to talk with someone when sourcing their apparel. But the benefits of automation don’t have to be just forward facing.
“Since there are shoppers that aren’t going to go to a website to self-service, InkSoft has built-in quoting controls that allow a user to quickly generate a quote by using the pricing information already stored and entered,” Hunt says. After the quote is generated, it can be sent by e-mail for the customer to approve, comment and even pay online. Either way, the result is the same: quick service and an easier path to payment.