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IdeaRoom Technologies – IdeaRoom http://idearoom.aclients.com Your idea, just right. Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:10:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.10 Extend custom product sales to where your customers are – online http://idearoom.aclients.com/extend-custom-product-sales-online/ http://idearoom.aclients.com/extend-custom-product-sales-online/#respond Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:53:24 +0000 http://www.idearoomtech.com/?p=194 Continued]]> The days of the information-only company web site are ending.  For any product today there must be a higher level of online engagement with the consumer.  This engagement is critical for capturing and maintaining consumer’s interest,  building and supporting your brand, sustaining or growing margins, and remaining viable.

It is increasingly important for you to improve your ability to engage your customer online.  According to  Marketing Charts Research, 50% of consumers spend 75% or more of their total shopping time conducting online research. In fact, 15% of shoppers spend 90% or more of their shopping time online doing research.  This trend is accelerating.  According to Gartner Group, by the year 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without human intervention.

Not only do customers spend an increasing portion of their purchasing time online, they are also much further along in the purchase process before they contact a company.  In a Forbes article entitled “The Disappearing Sales Process”, Scott Gillum describes how customers are almost 60% through the sales process BEFORE contacting a Sales Rep regardless of price point of the product being purchased.

This is not to suggest that your sales force does not provide value.  It does.  What it does mean is that critical to allow your prospective customer to learn as much as possible about your products online, or you may never have an opportunity to interact with them.

For customizable products, this means that the more a customer can learn about your product on your website, the more likely it is that they will contact you.  With interactive 3D visualization and configuration capabilities, a customer can find their ideal product by exploring various product options and accessories to create the exact product they wish to purchase.  When they do contact you, they will be confident that they will receive the product they order.

Your customer is educating themselves on future purchases online.   Make sure you have the ability to educate your customers on the possibilities you can deliver before they ever speak with you.

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Improve Sales Efficiency by providing Choice http://idearoom.aclients.com/improve-sales-efficiency-by-providing-choice/ http://idearoom.aclients.com/improve-sales-efficiency-by-providing-choice/#respond Sun, 15 Jun 2014 04:49:37 +0000 http://www.idearoomtech.com/?p=191 Continued]]> If you aren’t giving your prospective customers the ability to design and see their custom product online, you may be missing out on an opportunity to improve your profitability through better sales efficiencies. Consumers today want products tailored to their personal needs and preferences. However, communicating all your product choices online can be challenging. Many companies choose to simply display images of all their options and accessories. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help customers see what a specific set of choices will look like or cost. The more choices you offer, the more difficult it becomes to serve your online customer well. This gap between what customers want and what they see online means the customer must call or email the company directly to complete their research process. Customers must be highly motivated to take this final step. And they must be highly motivated during regular business hours. The rest of your potential customers will inevitably abandon researching your product online in favor exploring others. You’ve lost them. When you close this gap by empowering your customers to configure the exact product they want, easily make tradeoff decisions between features and price, and see the product exactly as it’s configured in real-time, you keep nearly every customer engaged with your product on your website. You improve your online conversion rates, and you reduce your cost of sales. Let’s dig into this scenario a bit deeper. Here’s the typical online purchase experience for custom products:

  1. A prospect visits your website.
  2. The prospect explores products and the configuration choices available, such as colors, sizes, and accessories. These choices are typically shown independent of one another.
  3. The prospect submits a “Contact Us” form or calls company directly.
  4. Your sales team engages with the prospect, educating him or her further on your products and configuration options. Eventually, your sales team provides the prospect with a quote. Often times, this quote leads to follow-up conversations about feature and budget tradeoffs and a revised quote. And rarely does the prospect see the fully-configured product until the very end of this process, if ever.
  5. The prospect decides whether to purchase the product.
  6. The prospect (now customer) purchases the product.

Note the inefficiencies and expense involved in this process: First, you can expect a significant drop-off between step #2 and step #3. A customer who is not ready for a one-on-one conversation will continue their web search to find a product that they are confident will meet their needs. Second, your sales team must engage with the prospect regardless of how well-qualified they are. They will spend significant time explaining the capabilities and configuration options. And they will spend time revising quotes and iterating with the customer. Third, your sales and support teams must instill confidence in the customer that they are getting exactly what they want. This may require creating detailed renderings of the final product or reviewing, in detail, final specifications. This is a time-consuming and expensive process.

ENABLING SELF SERVICE DESIGN

Now consider a second model that enables the customer to make their own guided design choices, on their own time, before they contact you. (In fact, some customers may purchase the product without ever contacting you, completely eliminating the inefficiencies outlined above.)

Note: A live example can be found at Studio Shed, a manufacturer of configurable backyard sheds (visit https://www.studio-shed.com/configure/).

  1. A prospect visits website (same as above).
  2. The prospect interacts with an interactive 3D configuration tool. The tool allows him or her to evaluate different options and accessories, see the price, and see the product they have configured.
  3. The prospect saves the configuration they are interested in purchasing to the Contact Us form or calls the company directly.
  4. Your sales team engages with the prospect by reviewing the product they have configured and answering any questions they may have. This process is significantly shorter and more productive than before.
  5. The prospect decides whether to purchase the product.
  6. The prospect (now customer) purchases the product.

The changes are subtle but important. Prospects have more confidence in the offerings because they see the exact products they have configured. They know the prices, and they have made all the major tradeoff decisions before contacting your team. When prospects reach out to the sales team, they ask more insightful questions, and they are more ready to buy. Prospects who have access to an online configuration tool for custom products are more likely to do the following:

  1. Spend more time educating themselves on your products
  2. Be better informed when they contact you
  3. Be more confident in your company and your product

Ultimately, this optimal online experience for custom products will translate to more sales and greater profitability. Fewer potential customers will abandon your site for another. And your sales team can focus their efforts on the most valuable customers (those most likely to purchase), ensuring the greatest return for their efforts.

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Make it personal: product customization is going mainstream http://idearoom.aclients.com/make-it-personal-product-customization-is-going-mainstream/ http://idearoom.aclients.com/make-it-personal-product-customization-is-going-mainstream/#respond Tue, 03 Jun 2014 04:44:42 +0000 http://www.idearoomtech.com/?p=187 Continued]]> Consumers continue to spend more time researching their purchases before ever contacting the manufacturer or seller of the products they intend to buy. Increasingly, this approach includes customized and personalized products, which previously required direct conversation between the seller and the prospective customer.

Elizabeth Spaulding and Christopher Perry from Bain & Company delivered a great article on this very topic: Making it personal: Rules for success in product customization.

One key takeaway from this article: “Those customers that had customized a product online engaged more with the company.”

This article also outlines several important implications of the customization trend:

  1. Customers are willing to pay more for a custom product. According to Spaulding & Perry, 20% more than for standard equivalents.

  2. The products configurations consumers buy can provide an early indicator of changing product trends. For example, Brooks Brothers uses information about what its customers buy to plan future products. Information gleaned from actual purchase behavior is much more valuable than what can be gathered through surveys and focus groups.

  3. Customers that purchased customized products were more loyal, which meant they bought more and made more referrals than those that didn’t customize.

For those offering customized product or considering it, this article provides some important recommendations about how to increase your likelihood of success. Their study found that successful companies followed five key rules:

  1. Decide on your objectives for providing customization, such as branding, improving product margin, differentiation, or even creating a new core business around customized products.

  2. Decide how much customization you should to offer. More is not necessarily better.

  3. Keep it simple. Providing too many options confuses your customer and can lead to negative experience for your customer

  4. Let people share. Allowing your customer to post their personalized product on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter means building greater loyalty and brand awareness for you.

  5. Enhance the customer experience. Your customer needs to enjoy the design process

As consumers engage with products and companies that allow for customization, the expectation is set that this is now possible and should be available for all products. Companies looking to stay ahead of their competitors should be evaluating how they can offer customizable products to their customers.

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Deliver product configuration to your channel partners http://idearoom.aclients.com/deliver-product-configuration-to-your-channel-partners/ http://idearoom.aclients.com/deliver-product-configuration-to-your-channel-partners/#respond Wed, 21 May 2014 21:26:23 +0000 http://www.idearoomtech.com/?p=182 Continued]]> A strong distribution channel can be a powerful competitive advantage that creates visibility of your products to a much broader audience than you could afford to reach on your own.  When it works, it’s great.

However, if you manufacture configurable products, it can be difficult to communicate to the end customer the possibilities you can provide through a distributor, especially when your distributor is selling online. How do you deliver a compelling customer buying experience through an online channel?

Online 3D Visualization and Configuration software like that provided by IdeaRoom Technologies can be utilized anywhere your products are available on the web. This allows you to deliver a consistent, engaging, and interactive product configuration experience on every website your product is sold. This provides significant benefits to you, your channel partner, and the buyer of your products.

Key benefits to you and your distribution partners

  • Ubiquitous. Configuration capabilities can be launched from anywhere. Your customers get same engaging experience anywhere they find your products for sale.

  • Branding. Your channel partners can brand IdeaRoom to fit their online experience.

  • Differentiated. Your channel partners will have a much easier time selling your product than your competitors.

  • Up-To-Date. You have one central location to update as new options become available.

  • Sales Productivity. Your distributors’ sales reps can use your Configurator to sell to their customers.

With a Configurator, you deliver consistent information about your configuration options and accessories everywhere your product is sold. When you change options or expand your offerings, those offerings are available everywhere your product is listed.

This also means you are no longer tied to an annual catalog cycle! You can update your product offerings or product configuration options anytime, and those changes are available immediately wherever your Configurator resides.  

Your distribution partners benefit as well. By giving their customers the ability to visualize, select, and interact with your product configuration options on your partner’s website, you help them build greater customer loyalty. By enabling customers to visualize different options and accessories, they will be more likely to purchase – driving yours and your partner’s profitability. In addition, your distributor no longer needs to update your product page every time you add new products or options, making their operations more efficient.

Lastly, customers can purchase your product from the company they trust (their distributor), while easily configuring and selecting the exact product they wish to buy. When new options and accessories are introduced, there is no delay in their availability.  

Providing a compelling, visual interactive product configuration capability to your distribution partners can drive significant competitive advantage. You win by helping your channel win!

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Create a New Sales Conversation http://idearoom.aclients.com/create-a-new-sales-conversation/ http://idearoom.aclients.com/create-a-new-sales-conversation/#respond Mon, 05 May 2014 18:34:27 +0000 http://www.idearoomtech.com/?p=1 Continued]]> Mass customization is here to stay. Consumers are increasingly demanding a product that can be configured for their individual tastes and desires. You can even customize your ketchup bottle! (http://www.myheinz.com/gallery.aspx). This has created both opportunity and challenges for manufacturers.

As a manufacturer of customizable products, you are in a great position to appeal to today’s consumers. But how do you show the breadth and depth of your offering without confusing them? How do you empower them to create their perfect product without overwhelming them with too many choices? How do you best support their desire to educate themselves? How do you keep sales cost under control?

Customers begin nearly every major purchase decision online. They do their own up-front research–exploring alternatives, learning about different vendors, reading reviews, and choosing the product that best meets their requirements.

Manufacturers of configurable products have unique challenges in serving their online customers well. Although the customer has a sense of the basic configuration, how do they get a complete picture of the product? What color looks best? How do the accessories change the appearance? What will the final product look like? What is the final cost? How can they be sure that they’re ordering the right one?

Fundamentally, you need to empower your customers to educate themselves about your offerings, easily explore configuration options, and select the configuration that best matches their needs. Integrating 3D visualization and configuration software into your website can help your customer achieve these goals, in a fun and engaging way.

A prospective customer engaging with 3D visualization and configuration capabilities can choose colors, finishes, options, and accessories. They can compare how two different configurations look. They can see the product from all sides, in a realistic 3D representation. And they can see how their choices impact the final price.

They do this “purchase-decision pre-work” on their own time, in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace. And as they do this, they become more invested in your product, your company, and your brand. Your product becomes their product–tailored to their precise needs and wants.

When the customer does engage with you, they are closer to making a purchase decision. They are more qualified and committed. They are confident in their purchase because they’ve seen exactly what they’re purchasing. They see the colors and accessories. They see an estimated price. They see the product from all sides and perspectives. Customers lacking this confidence will move on to the next website, likely a competitor.

IdeaRoom not only creates a more engaged and confident customer but also improves your sales productivity. Your salespeople start with better-qualified leads. Your customers already know what they want and that it fits within their budget. You spend less time describing basic choices, providing quotes, and iterating on options. Time with customers is better spent, as you focus on the finer points that differentiate your product from others. Conversion rates will naturally increase.

These benefits continue throughout the rest of the organization. When the sales order is completed, the detailed information about the configuration–including images of the completed assembly–can be provided immediately to manufacturing to ensure the proper configuration is built.  

Ultimately, IdeaRoom Technology is helping manufacturers create more intimate relationships with their customers by engaging them directly in configuring their ideal product and then giving them the confidence that they will receive exactly what they designed.

 

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