Volume 27/Number 21; March 3/10, 2014
By Ken Ryan
Software suppliers continue to introduce feature-enriched products and enhancements designed to help retailers operate faster, smarter and more efficiently—all in the name of being more profitable.
A number of players showcased their latest wares at Surfaces, where they demonstrated new features in areas such as customer relationship management (CRM), cloud processing technology, inventory and stock checking, and warehouse operations. Following is a rundown of some of the newest offerings.
CDMS introduced several products, among them a reporting tool that allows retailers to track sales and profitability by ZIP code. Also new is an invoice format option for dealers to include the amount owed (including finance charges) if paid past the due date. Additionally, CDMS launched a sales-tracking software tool that includes a special code so retailers can determine which advertising method is creating the most sales.
SCO Cloud allows customers to run their businesses on mobile devices thanks to a cloud (remote Internet storage). “There are many advantages to operating with a cloud,” said Cathy Welsh, operations manager. “You pay a flat amount each month, which covers your hardware maintenance and support for your server in the cloud. You have fewer electrical, cooling and space requirements at your office because you are not housing and maintaining a server.”
Comp-U-Floor’s suite of products includes a business enterprise software system with estimating tools and built-in functionality for the Measure Square engine. The software includes all inventory, purchasing, installation management, business-to-business and financial modules.
Edgar Aya, president of Comp-U-Floor, said the company’s newest wireless warehousing and mobile technology system is in great demand because of built-in efficiencies and cost-cutting processes. “Wireless warehousing automates the labor-intensive tasks of receiving, stocking, cutting and shipping, rendering them more efficient—and with fewer errors—to save time and money.”
Aya said cloud-processing technology continues to redefine the software landscape for retailers and installers. “Our new flooring web portal allows users to place and monitor their flooring jobs online from anywhere and at any time, and makes information available from mobile devices.”
Recently debuted by Dancik is the “game changing” Selection Sheet Manager (SSM), an application designed for showroom sales and optimized for tablets. SSM is integrated with the Dancik ERP system and intended to empower RSAs to close more sales, upsell and locate available inventory.
“SSM automates the sales process; it minimizes human error, and the consumer is afforded the luxury of walking the showroom and selecting merchandise on the spot,” said Greg Grady, director of business development. “Consumers may build a selection, then purchase any part while leaving the remainder for future completion. Sales teams can manage appointments, customer contacts, future engagements and project management functions via the integrated calendar and pop-up reminders.” At the same time, management can monitor the close rates of RSAs and identify highest margin items, best sellers and dead inventory.
Gartman’s DMS tool provides web access for dealers to find information quickly and easily on a distributor’s website. For example, dealers can check stock and pricing, place orders, produce price lists, view past history and view open receivables.
The company plans an initial rollout of Gartman CRM within a few weeks. The first phase will provide reps with account and contact information, price checks and information related to open orders, invoices, quotes and displays.
Gartman also introduced a mobile computer POD system that allows delivery drivers to download their route orders to a mobile device. At the dealer’s store, the driver scans each item being delivered; the dealer rep signs the device and uploads the printed receipt to the distributor’s server.
In 2013, Kashmoo began to focus exclusively on building custom systems for its new customers while continuing to service its existing base. “During 2014 we plan to continue focusing on building custom systems,” said Tim Magnuson, CEO.
As explained by Magnuson, Kashmoo is cloud-based and now has the ability to deliver onsite on the customer’s servers. “We are the only vendor who is fully integrated with QuickBooks with a real-time, two-way connection.”
Kashmoo’s FlooringSoft API (programming interface) can tie into third-party software systems and websites. It recently completed a custom scheduling and business processing system for a large client in Ohio that runs 130 crews on 30 major commercial projects each month. “They went live with the new system in only 75 days,” Magnuson said.
The company’s new iPad/iPhone measure estimating app streamlines the workflow process in four steps, according to president Steven Wang. First, it allows users to draw with a finger or laser disto meter (a speed/accuracy tool) and drag and drop products such as carpet with instant seam layout. The app also estimates the sales amount on the fly and generates a quote that can be emailed to customers. A printed report from the app includes diagram, cut sheet or seam plan.
New offerings from QFloors include Instant Stock Check, a floor covering B2B technology that allows a sales rep, standing with a customer on the showroom floor, to select a particular product from an invoice and instantly connect with the supplier to check availability and pricing.
The use of CRM software is nothing new, but it is starting to take off in the flooring industry, company president Chad Ogden said. QFloors’ CRM tools include numerous functions, among them advertising and promotion tracking, task managers, closing statistics and sales goals. “This information is invaluable to a business owners’ success and profitability,” he said.
According to Ogden, QFloors’ inventory tracking system cuts down on costly mistakes that often occur, such as selling a product that has already been sold or is no longer available.
SiteDraw is an iOS (Apple operating system) product designed for a flooring estimator to take into the field, measure a site and create an as-built drawing. “Being on iOS, the user interface has some amazing new enhancements,” said Bob Noe, president. Using the Disto A6 laser range finder, users can walk the perimeter of a room, measure each wall and specify the direction of the measured line; the rooms are drawn to scale on the user’s mobile device. SiteDraw will be available for Android users in a few weeks.
Enterprise Financial Module allows accountants, CPAs and controllers quick access to financial reports; it also enables them to compare financial reporting periods and configure reports to banks and lenders. Accessible on a local network or cloud, the financial tool also lets users review accounts payable and invoices.
Enterprise Scheduler can be used for what Noe calls “predictive schedule,” such as freight deliveries and installations. It can also evaluate crew capacity so subcontractors can determine the right amount of installers necessary for a particular job.
In-Home Solutions serves as a link between RFMS’ mobile floor estimating application, Measure Mobile, and the RFMS server in a retailer’s store.
With In-Home Solutions, an RSA can create a new project by entering customer information or accessing the RFMS customer list. Once the layout and the quantity have been determined, the RSA can assign products and labor charges to a project directly from his or her RFMS product catalog. “There is a built-in checklist to eliminate any chance of forgetting to add any labor or miscellaneous products needed for the project,” said Maria Cauchon, media services director.
RollMaster’s Associated Products feature, part of the company’s Catalog and Inventory Maintenance system, allows commonly used product groupings to be linked together to assist with quotes and order building.
“B2B products will download into your system ‘pre-associated,’” said Dev O’Reilly, president and CEO. “There is also a ‘mass association’ tool that will allow, for example, carpet padding and carpet labor to be associated across all carpet SKUs. Overall, Associated Products should greatly speed up order entry while at the same time increasing accuracy.”
RollMaster has also established what O’Relly calls an “FCB2B sand box” where interested distribution companies can test and evaluate integration.