Close the information gap and you too can hit the B2B highway
In this issue is Part II of the B2B technology study we conducted in partnership with the World Floor Covering Association and BNP Media Market Research. Considering the involvement of WFCA, the extensive nature of the questions and the sky high response rate, it may well be the most comprehensive report on technology the floor covering industry has yet seen. What is abundantly clear from the findings is that there is an information gap that is slowing retailer acceptance of B2B platforms.
And that's too bad. Talk to any retailer who has embraced B2B communications technology and he/she is likely to tell you two things: First, they initially resisted the change out of concern that it would lead to all sorts of problems. Then, after they have had the system in place for any length of time, they are likely to say they don't know how they ever got by without it.
Also included in this issue is a Q & A that gives four top software vendors a chance to directly address questions posed by retailers who are mulling a move into B2B. We asked: How can a retailer be certain he retains full control over his buying decisions? How do you keep your proprietary information under wraps? Do you lose everything if the system crashes? and How can you gauge your return on investment?
Also included in this issue is another in a series we have dubbed "FC M.V.P." for Floor Covering Most Valuable Practices. This is an effort to shine the spotlight on retailers who have picked up the technology ball and run with it. The retailers at the top of their game in applying B2B use a dedicated system to place orders directly to the manufacturers and have product and price information updated throughout their organization almost instantaneously. They can also determine the size and exact contents of their inventory as easily as they can count spare change in their pocket.
The retailer featured this month, Super Floors of Anchorage, Alaska, is a good choice not just because of what they have done but what they plan to do. The retailer currently is using B2B software to track every square foot of flooring under its roof. When a manufacturer tied into the system makes a price change, Super Floors' computer system makes the adjustment to the entire inventory in a matter of minutes. If a salesperson inputs a price that does not fall within the company's guidelines for margins, the system red flags the transaction. Having seen their profits rise on the strength of its B2B system, Super Floors is set for the next step: using B2B technology for ordering.
Super Floors' John Dixon, told us that all it took really, was exposure to the system and more information about what it can do. He reminds his colleagues in the floor covering industry that the first step is easy: think of yourself as a consumer and gather the information you need to make a decision on B2B. His perspective should be a source of encouragement to retailers and contractors. As always, information is the key.