Helping customers make decisions about their orders is a crucial strategy at Rotochopper Inc., a manufacturer of massive machines that shred wood and other landscape material.
Rotochopper, which is owned by Granite Partners, a holding company that invests in fast-growing businesses, is the first company in the Granite group to deploy the recently released NetSuite CPQ (configure-price-quote) software application. The CPQ system, which Oracle NetSuite introduced in October, is designed to let a manufacturer’s customers configure a custom machine, view the configuration price, and either purchase it online or request a new price quote from a sales rep.
Purchasing highly complex products
And by instantly pulling product and pricing information from Rotochopper’s back-end ERP software – a crucial step for completing purchases – the CPQ system provides a far more accurate and faster method to configure highly complex products, compared to Granite’s prior method, says Rick Bauerly, Granite’s founder and CEO.
Granite Partners owns 10 companies that manufacture or distribute complex products and systems — ranging from biological products for life sciences laboratories to heavy equipment designed to thrash wood and other materials. Multifaceted digital commerce and business management technology are crucial to their long-term growth.
“We’re acquiring growing and profitable companies,” Bauerly says. “We generally enhance their growth and their profitability through greater investments in people and process and systems, and we tend to grow in the 20%-plus range each year as a portfolio.”
Critical to carrying out that growth strategy is helping Granite’s portfolio companies — each of which does about $100 million or more a year in sales — provide a fast and accurate purchasing process for customers buying complex products and systems.
AI-powered configure-price-quote technology
That’s why Granite is rolling out digital technology that connects back-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems with customer-facing interfaces. This set-up will foster sales by providing customer-facing information on available products and pricing.
At Rotochopper, the CPQ system uses AI technology to better match customers’ product configurations with the most appropriate SKUs; AI also helps the system to factor in profit margins as it automatically generate quotes for sales reps to offer buyers. In addition, the CPQ system saves the product configuration for possible future use — saving what could take days to configure a Rotochopper machine manually using spreadsheets, Bauerly says.
“It’s really about speed and accuracy and cycle time reduction,” he says, noting the competitive pressure to reduce the time it takes to get customers the complex products they need. “It turns out the only way to get cycle time reduction is when you have greater accuracy.”
Rotochopper makes truck-sized equipment that turns tree waste and related materials into mulch, is available in thousands of custom configurations, and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit.
A faster way to generate custom orders
It can take days to put together a custom order for a Rotochopper machine through manual processes, using spreadsheets to organize a required bill of materials.
“The number of items in the bill of materials is in the thousands or tens of thousands for one of these pieces of equipment,” Bauerly says. “The number of work orders is in the hundreds.”
As a result, he adds, the many manual processes involved in traditional ordering methods typically result in inaccurate data and a slow ordering process.
But offering a CPQ system on a manufacturer’s website like Rotochopper.com slashes the overall ordering time, Bauerly says. And that puts Rotochopper in a position to win customers, even with premium pricing, he asserts.
“This creates a marketplace environment where the one who can deliver faster and also provide a premium product and service can charge a premium,” he says.
(This content in this article is from the Digital Commerce 360 special report, A Blueprint for B2B Technology.)
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