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You have heard for many years, “the customer is always right.” Customer satisfaction can be a key reason why a company succeeds in any business. DDI System has realized this and has created a platform to help distributors.
When it comes to disruptions, distributors face many in the workplace today.
“In today’s marketplace, it’s not enough to just satisfy an order—your customer relationships are being tested by a wave of innovation and digital disruption. Effectively managing the customer experience results in decreased price sensitivity, stronger repurchase rates, and increased customer referrals,” said Adam Waller, CEO of DDI System.
Waller has plenty of experience in the distribution world. After working for Wal-Rich, a family-operated distributor founded by his grandfather, he took his vast knowledge of supply house operations to a more technology-based opportunity. It took the Wal-Rich’s computer system to make information technology a passion for Waller. Still, the family-owned operation that Waller got his start at taught him valuable lessons. Which led to an interesting user-centric platform.
“As is today, we focused on listening to our distributor customers and understanding what they needed most - we focused on inventory visibility, intelligent purchasing, integrated accounting, and paper-free operations. The needs at Wal-Rich and these distributors, still our customers 25 years later, built the foundation for today’s robust Inform ERP.”
We sat down with Waller to talk more about DDI System’s Inform platform, how the company is advancing its latest customer-driven product and much more.
The Wholesaler (TW): Focusing more on the platform, which daily operations does Inform support?
Adam Waller (AW): Inform provides wholesale distributors with what we refer to as ‘daily operations’, including file-free or paperless workflow, order fulfillment, warehouse logistics, bookkeeping and financial reporting, demand management, and purchasing. Our special extras include built-in Customer Relation Management (CRM), eCommerce, analytics, barcoding, and integrations for automated EDI workflows.
TW: How does Inform deliver more than any other Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) system?
AW: Inform’s ERP Software takes customer connectivity opportunities to the next level by threading in features throughout the software that impact the customer journey. These features serve a new breed of extraordinarily empowered customers. Inform’s interface is a cut above the other systems people use and see, with intuitive, speedy navigation, copy and paste, and engaging layout. We tap into data that unveil hidden opportunities and drive sales growth. We think that our software helps distributors open the door to new business and optimizes customer retention.
TW: How can users improve their return on investments while using DDI System's Inform?
AW: Take advantage of the features and functions, especially CRM that your staff is not accustomed to using. It’s built-in, and it is truly effective. Learn how to maximize inventory turns and reduce overstock with Informs remarkable forecasting system.
TW: How does eCommerce, analytics, and CRM uncover and drive revenue with customers?
AW: Those are three different elements that wholesalers must leverage to get the most out of their customers. With Inform, we deploy CRM that is powered by the data wholesalers collect from sales, quoting, and even from activity history, a record of human touch points. A single CRM screen presents sales analysis, sales history for instant reordering, open order inquiry, pricing inquiry, activity history and customer tasks. The information revitalizes your ability to engage your customer, provide extraordinary service, and demonstrates added value of buying product through your company.
Capitalizing on customer purchase patterns and your personal relationships is the differentiator that keeps customers coming back. But not every interaction is a phone call or face-to-face. You also need Integrated eCommerce for a real-time online portal, so your customers can self-service. They see current and historical orders, price and create new orders, view their account, and even pay bills online. The potent combination of Inform ERP’s customer engagement system and online capabilities gives distributors power to serve their customers better than new price-driven digital competitors.
TW: What factors do you credit to DDI System’s 16,000 users around the United States?
AW: One of our customers put it best; “My favorite thing about Inform is the flexibility of the system and the developers continuing commitment to improvement. If it doesn’t have the report I want built in, I can write the report. If there’s a feature missing, the developers take user feedback and keep delivering new features with the included upgrades. They are masterful at being great partners.”
DDI plays a key role in showing thousands of users our best practices. Our development staff and transition teams have expertise in the markets we focus on, and they are consults that train companies for a smooth go-live experience. Our new users have the confidence they are moving forward with minimal disruption to business. These well-managed transitions empower our user base - it elevates them to take on new responsibilities and set new goals, even when branching out of their comfort zone. They know that DDI’s staff will guide them with best practices and dedicated support every step of the way.
We repeatedly hear from our customers how DDI continuously delivers features that matter most to today’s distributor. Larger software providers, with dozens of different software titles, simply cannot provide that degree of responsiveness and focus.
TW: What are a business’ benefits of using DDI’s platform?
AW: The most quickly realized benefits are driving out costs. We eliminate filing delivery documents and signatures. We streamline the dreaded end-of-month into a single button process that saves all the documents an accountant might someday want. We automatically send customer statements and deliver automated reports to users, customers, and vendors. Our modules, like eCommerce and reporting, are all built in, so deployment is immensely simpler and faster. Our customer support is all based in the United States, with people who have spent years becoming experts with our software.
TW: How has DDI taken a CRM-driven approach to its service? What has that approach done for your showrooms?
AW: Our threaded CRM system will immediately help your staff deliver extraordinary service and support. Our single-click technology provides easy access and insight for customer purchase patterns, contact-related tasks, personal profile notes, outstanding orders, product price and stock inquiries.
Showroom distributors have a unique opportunity to leverage Inform CRM. Most showroom interactions include face-to-face meetings and the value-add of your product knowledge, which is more powerful than digital shopping. But, wholesaler showroom salespeople do not always have the tools for top-quality follow-up with their showroom leads. Inform CRM provides this solution. One of our most successful showroom distributors has said: “I just can’t say enough good things about the Opportunity Pipeline. One of my showroom sales associates said his sales doubled after he started using it.”
TW: What are some ways businesses can stay connected to customers, even when they are not face-to-face?
AW: Our real-time Customer Portal stands out as a differentiator. The portal connects your customers 24/7, with self-service tools for accurate pricing, sales history visibility, reorders, convert quotes and submit new orders. Inform’s easily-deployed customer portal promotes loyalty and combats digital competition.
QuickOrder is a smartphone app that helps with vendor managed inventory (VMI). Your customer or your salesperson can use product barcodes their phone to scan and build replenishment orders, with real-time price and inventory.
TW: What types of demand forecasting does Inform supply its customers? How does help businesses when it comes to orders?
AW: Demand forecasting has evolved from the days of user judgment and simple Min/Max calculations. Inform analyzes demand patterns for each stocked product in every warehouse, to determine if there is unusual demand and if customers purchase patterns are recurring or sporadic. Both demand patterns benefit from different forecasting approaches and Inform automatically decides what approach fits best by using extensive comparison testing.
The result for our users is increased inventory turns, diminished warehouse overstock, and increased inventory gross margin return on investment.
TW: Will the software be adding any new features this year?
AW: We are investing heavily in Warehouse Management Systems, eCommerce, and value-added order fulfillment workflows this year. Simultaneously, we are hard at work on the next generation of Inform, a fully cloud-based deployment of our entire ERP platform. That’s a significant investment for us, and we are doing it using a cutting-edge technology stack that will take us, and our users, far into the future.
TW: Is there anything you would like to mention about DDI System and or Inform that you haven’t already?
AW: We are proud to have evolved, over two decades into a leader in our selected wholesale distribution markets. We compete with software providers that are many, many times our size, but they don’t have our focus or drive. If your company is thinking about your strategy for the changing distribution marketplace, we have a very good solution to show you.
For more information on Inform and DDI System, please visit www.ddisystem.com