01 Apr Making it Easy to Buy from You
As a manufacturer, you all wish for making it easy to buy from you. However, your customers might think the other way. To understand how to fix this issue, we had our talk today.
In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Kristina Harrington. Kris is the President of GenAlpha Technologies. A company that supports equipment and parts manufacturers with information services and tools that make it easier to find and buy products.
The conversation started with Curt introducing Kris. He then asked Kris about her journey and how she was in the Navy once. Curt mentioned how this particular information is missing from Kris’ LinkedIn profile.
To this, Kris responded saying that this was so long ago that for her it feels like adding about her high school to her profile because it was so long ago. However, for her, the Navy experience actually taught her a lot.
After this, Kris said that she always had this personality that whatever tools she found, she made them her toolkit. Moving on, she talked a bit about GenAlpha. She said that when she started the company, her target was other manufacturers. She said that her goal was making it easy to buy from you as manufacturers.
Along with this, Kris shared a presentation. In her presentation, she explained how their work with Caterpillar went. Theirs was a direct sales model, however, at the caterpillar, they followed a directional sales model. This in turn helped them increase their experience.
Moving on with the conversation, Kris talked about making it easy to buy from you. She said that to make this happen you need to focus on your business model.
After this, Kris explained a business model in detail with the help of her presentation. She said that when you acquire more business while running your own business, it enhances your range of products that you offer.
To give an example, she talked about how caterpillar acquired Bucyrus and it actually made them the largest acquirer of mining equipment globally.
After this, Kris talked about the supporting challenges that they see all around these organizations. Kris also said that we always need to focus on making it easy to buy from you as manufacturers. She said that if we lose this focus, it won’t make much of a difference.
By the end of the conversation, Kris also talked about the challenges that manufacturers face when they’re working internationally.
The conversation ended with Curt and Damon thanking the guest for her presence.
Kristina Harrington is the President and COO at GenAlpha Technologies. Apart from this, she is also the President and COO of Brookfield, WI, and the Co-Founder of Two Girls and a Farm. Before this, Kris has experience working as an America’s Mining Sales Leader at Enerpac too.
As for her current work, Kris supports equipment and parts manufacturers with information, services they need to sell online, and tools.
Kris has a Bachelor of Administration in Finance from Marquette University.
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Make it Easy to Buy from You
manufacturers, customers, chris, business, equipment, catalog, product, e commerce, manufacturing, solution, companies, organization, damon, part, people, caterpillar, linkedin, information, earpiece, kurt
Damon Pistulka, Kris Harrington, Curt Anderson
Curt Anderson 00:00
jamming, you got music
Damon Pistulka 00:02
going? Yes. nobody hears the music that I hear that my head going like this because I’m listening to the little jingle that starts us off on LinkedIn. Right. So first of all, thank you everyone for joining us once again, after we get done. We’re just laughing a little bit here. Join us once again on our Friday manufacturing ecommerce Success Series with your host, me, Damon Pistulka Kurt Anderson, and today we’ve got a special guest with us that Kurt will introduce here shortly.
So I just wanted to introduce in a little bit about the people for the people on LinkedIn live. If you’re watching us on LinkedIn live now comment on LinkedIn. I’m watching the chat over there. I’m going to drive that IRA Bowman is going to be in on that. And let us know at first of all, where you’re at what kind of businesses you’re in or in representing so we can interact there as well. But I will let Kurt Anderson take over the manufacturing ecommerce accessories event for today. So I can do that and he can introduce our speaker
Curt Anderson 01:02
take it away Kurt Damon, Thank you brother. Appreciate it. So guys, Damon little rule round applause Damon Pistulka exit your way Rockstar in Seattle, Washington. So guys, Kurt Anderson. So I mean, Dan Biggers putting the pressure on me seem like I’m bringing the heat today.
So I might maybe I’ll bring it down a notch or two. Dan, how’s it There you go. Just kidding. So guys, today, what an absolute honor and privilege I’ve been looking forward to this for months. months, Chris. So my dear friend Chris Harrington. She is the president of Gen alpha technologies. Chris, welcome. Thank you for joining manufacturing ecommerce success. Happy Friday. How are you?
Kris Harrington 01:43
Hey, guys. I am fantastic. I have to been waiting for months for this. I think you, you know, hit me up about it was the end of last year and said Oh, can you come on the show in March. I was like, Wow, he has a calendar. Perfect. So no, this is great.
Curt Anderson 02:00
Thank you for your time. And time flew by and I want to give a huge shout out. So we got folks here on remote. So I’m watching Remo we’ve got my buddy AJ, we’re International. We’ve got AJ and Dan bigger gal in Canada. God bless you, Gail Greg mushu. A phone with tonight. Jake, James. Kevin, is how we actually hooked up Kevin is on on Chris’s team. We’ve got my dear friend Val. So So guys, Chris Harrington. Let me tell you a little story about Chris Harrington. So Mark cat, right is at Marquette the Golden Eagles. Right?
She’s a market grad. She has this incredible manufacturing career. But she’s so humble. I dropped her LinkedIn profile in the chat box, please, please, please connect with Chris. And now you guys drop your LinkedIn. I want love everybody be networking with each other. But what’s missing on Chris’s LinkedIn profile? Damon, I don’t know if you know this. She is a Navy veteran. And so Chris, thank you for your service to our country. You are so humble. So tell us a little bit about Navy. And then we’re going to dig right into manufacturing.
Kris Harrington 03:02
Yeah. Well, you know, you asked me about that earlier before we came on here like weird that’s missing in your LinkedIn profile. And, you know, I feel like sometimes it’s like putting on on my LinkedIn that I went to high school because it was that long ago, right. But no, I had an amazing opportunity to be part of the Navy. I was a machinist mate, you know, went to a school in Great Lakes.
I had bootcamp in a mixed boot camp in Florida. I was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, so very lucky opportunity. But certainly back then had no idea the fundamentals I was learning as a machinist mate would pay off for me later in life is I get into helping manufacturers with e commerce strategies when it comes to parts Buying and selling. Right. So the world is small, everything that you do in life just builds on itself. And that’s part of the background, I guess.
Curt Anderson 03:58
Well, God bless you and Greg misuses. Thank you, Chris. We all salute you. We thank you. So great job for your service. So let’s talk a little bit about that. So then you decide, hey, you know what, I’m going to go to Marquette amazing, incredible college, right? good basketball school. And so then you decide to get into manufacturing. And on top of that, you’ve taken the international you’ve had an international career. Can you talk a little bit about Caterpillar and like how, how your journey got you going in the early part of your career?
Kris Harrington 04:25
Yeah, so after school, I, you know, I graduated with a degree in business. And I really was into numbers and finance and I had this financial analyst position that was open in a manufacturing firm, and I jumped in the organization. And while I didn’t stay in finance very long, it was a great opportunity for me to learn that GRP systems, understand how to run reports. And I was able to give information to executives that really taught me what was important to the business.
So as I move From Finally, as a financial analyst into product management, and then parts leadership, and then moving into different subsidiaries around the world, really rolling out our corporate strategy, I had all these fundamentals that I had taken from using an earpiece system as a tool.
So from a very early point in my career, I started using whatever tools were available to me as that kind of toolbox for me to reach into so that I could evaluate our business how we were doing and look for strategies and ways to grow. So that was kind of my journey, you know, spent many years in the aftermarket also sold equipment, so was both both on both sides of selling new equipment, and servicing the aftermarket business as well.
Curt Anderson 05:52
That, wow, there’s no no shock that you are where you irate today, right? With this whole background, by the way, I really loves your window. How’s that? So, and, and again, thank you guys, Jake. Jake is on the program today from kavaler tool and manufacturing. Thanks, Jake. Thanks for telling us. So
Damon Pistulka 06:12
they got Bonnie on LinkedIn to Bonnie’s on LinkedIn. We’ve got snazz there on LinkedIn, and of course, IRAs in the chat there as well. So we got some we got some people on both platforms. Great.
Curt Anderson 06:24
Awesome. Well, Chris, I know you have a presentation. So what we’re here to talk about is e commerce. And this is really, I was so thrilled to connect with you. So as everybody knows, I’m drop beating that drum on e commerce for manufacturers. Lo and behold, I find my soulmate at T Mobile Gen alpha, you guys are a cutting edge software, e commerce solution e commerce software company for exclusively for manufacturers. So if you want to go ahead and share if you want to go ahead and pull up your presentation, you can dig right into that.
Kris Harrington 06:53
Let’s do that. Give me one second here.
Curt Anderson 06:59
Bonnie at Golden ivers got gold lids in the chat.
There we go. You got it up.
Damon Pistulka 07:07
Yep, we got it.
Kris Harrington 07:10
All right. So um, yeah, I’m gonna go through this presentation here. But certainly guys jump in I you know, I want this to be a conversation just doesn’t have to be me presenting. You know, you certainly mentioned that. I work for Gen alpha technologies today. So just to back up for a moment, many of us as founders of Gen alpha, we took all of that manufacturing experience that we had. And we decided that we wanted to help other manufacturers make it easy to do business. And we were working on some strategies ourselves as a B Cyrus organization to implement e commerce and E catalogs in our own business.
But when we were acquired by Caterpillar, we had to table that project, because Caterpillar was already down a path with something. So we all moved into the caterpillar organization, we went into our different roles, we continue to learn, Caterpillar ran a very different business than we did as bucyrus. We were a direct sales model, of course, they have a distribution sales model. So we got to understand and learn in our in our new role within that company how to work through distribution, and not just direct.
But very quickly, we we started remembering all of the value that we had been bringing to the organization in the past, we were down with e commerce. And we thought, why don’t we form this company and take some of those ideas and those growth strategies that we had an implement our own solution, and form a company that can help other manufacturers do what we were doing. And that’s really what how Gen alpha was founded. Our solution today is equip. What’s important to maybe stay here right at the beginning is that our key customers, our manufacturers, and distributors who sell and service industrial equipment.
So the end users of our equipment, they work hard to keep their equipment running every day. And they’re looking for convenience to help them do their job. But most importantly, what they’re looking for is accuracy. Because finding the right product or component or part the first time you know the first time they’re going to find something is most important to them because they need to either get or keep their equipment operable. So kind of that’s the arena that I come from in the background that I’m going to be using as I share stories and talk about things today.
But what what a
Curt Anderson 09:48
textbook entrepreneurial success story, we have a problem. Let’s come up with a solution. And here you go. You create your own SAS e commerce solution here, and I know our dear friend Greg Miller. She was on the program, another wisconsinite. And He always talks about the digital twin, he does a great job of talking about his clients, and he does a great webinar presentation on the digital twin. And this is exactly what you’re covering. So in May, my next question, you just answered that, what trends are you seeing in manufacturing? Lo and behold, you got it right here.
Kris Harrington 10:19
Yeah, you know, and these, these trends, I’m not taking these from something that I read or other information that might be out there, these trends are really what we’re seeing in the trenches, you know, I’ve had the beautiful opportunity along with the gen alpha organization to talk to hundreds of manufacturing companies over the past few years. And whether it’s our customers, or our customers, customers, or it’s the prospects that we’re talking to, these are truly the trends that we’re seeing on the ground when we go in and talk to them. So I think it helps to share these ideas. And because I think members of the audience who are listening today can probably relate to this, this stuff.
So really, the first one is that larger manufacturers are acquiring smaller ones. After you, Cyrus in a seven year timeframe, we saw three acquisitions, two of them, we were a part of where we were acquiring other companies. And then that third one was when Caterpillar acquired us. So imagine what happens to a business when there are multiple acquisitions. And not just the business itself, but also what happens to your customers as they tried to figure out how to do business with you.
So this is a continuing trend, we see it with our own customers today, I have in parentheses here, pe you know, private equity firms are very comfortable with doing this, they’re commonly forming groups, finding manufacturers that are common in the industry, and maybe those manufacturers need a little help or need a little investment to to grow and reach their potential. So they’ll bring and combine these companies into a group that can help them with providing a greater market opportunity.
Oftentimes, it takes us 2.2 here where companies are looking to expand their product portfolio, so by you know, adding another organization or multiple organizations to accompany now the breadth and width of your product line is enhanced. Certainly that’s what happened at Caterpillar, once they acquired bucyrus, they had the the the most, the largest opportunity of mining equipment, in mining globally. So anytime anyone needed a piece of mining equipment, Caterpillar now had something to offer. So that’s, that’s pretty impressive.
You know, you know, it’s not always through acquiring that people are expanding their product portfolio, a lot of companies are working with vendors. And digital makes this very easy, in fact, where you can go out and increase the number of vendor products that you carry, that are, you know, needed in the industry that you serve. So maybe you can use accessories as an example of this, right? If you sell a fire apparatus to a New York City, Fire Department, but you also can sell stretchers and other things that are in that line, that emergency line will now you have an opportunity to grow your revenue and grow your market share in a particular industry.
So companies or that we work with are always looking for ways to do that. And really the idea there is to diversify. They want to if something is up, you know, they want to make sure that they’re capturing on the good times. But if if they’re well diversified in one areas down, hopefully that other area will carry them. What we’re also finding is that lots of manufacturers are starting on the path to IoT. We hear a lot about industry 4.0 interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, but more often what we’re finding with customers and companies that we work with is they’re just not comfortable, that they’re ready for these new technologies.
So a lot of what they’re looking for is assistance in getting them comfortable. They see that directionally This is where they need to get to, but they’re they don’t always believe they’re yet ready. And then, you know, customers are expecting equipment uptime and productivity this is this is really important because this is translating into speed and transparency of information. customers need to keep their equipment running and oftentimes keeping equipped Running, running is more important than price. So having product availability, and other things becomes very important.
There’s also the demographic shift, I think we’ve, we’ve all experienced this with manufacturers that we work with, you know, for manufacturers, this isn’t just happening in their own organization, it’s happening in all of their customer organizations as well. You know, we have to learn how to meet the needs of the new millennial and Gen Z buyer, and not just how do you sell to them? And how do you meet that, but in an organization, how do we train them? Because they learn differently?
How do we attract them to make sure that we have good talent in our organization. So these are some things that manufacturers are working on. And then, you know, many companies we talked to, they do have this desire to expand internationally, but they just don’t have the infrastructure to do it. They might not have the tools, the resources, the know how to do business in a foreign country, they might even have equipment operating in a foreign country. And occasionally, they’ll one off, you know, support that.
But it’s always a lot of rigmarole and challenges challenge for them. So everybody would like to grow their revenue. And if they can do that internationally in an easier fashion, they’d like to any comments, you guys on that?
Curt Anderson 16:25
Well, I thought I was awesome. I’m speechless. You know, it’s just you’re spot on last week, we had Mike Womack, our buddy from the New Jersey MEP. I think, Chris, you’re on the program, we’re talking about how Millennials are for manufacturing this the technology shift. This is just Paramount right now. So it’s just, well, you the solution that you provide is just such a powerful solution. This is great.
Damon Pistulka 16:48
Yeah. And I got a couple real world examples about this. Because in some of my work in the in the oil fields, and even when I was young on on a farm, I mean, people don’t understand when you’re 200 miles from anywhere.
And I mean, literally anywhere, if you get the wrong part, what that does, or you can’t get the parts that you need, what that does, and a critical piece of equipment, like we were talking earlier, Chris, about you and your mining background, you know, if a critical piece of equipment goes down, and your supplier can’t easily identify that and get it to you like yesterday, that’s 1000s of dollars, sometimes a minute. And these kind of solutions, all the way that you’re talking about are critical to these these company’s long term survival.
Kris Harrington 17:35
Yeah, no. And that takes us exactly into the into the next slide, which is really the support challenges that we we see across all of these organizations, as well. And you’re spot on Damon, you know, if, if a piece of equipment, our equipment in the mining industry was down for an hour that was costing that mind hundreds of 1000s of dollars, so we always had to fight to avoid that. But as we reach out into these organizations, we continue to see very similar challenges, they’ve got multiple systems operating in multiple locations. So they might have either, you know, many domestic locations, particularly when a large company buys up.
Many smaller companies, that means that they’re doing their manufacturing product in all sorts of locations, they’ve got multiple MRP systems, they’ve got multiple CAD systems, and imagine for your customer, how difficult it is to do business with you, if there’s no cohesive go to market strategy, when when that’s, you know, you’ve you’ve added these product lines to offer better value to your customer, but you haven’t yet found a way to deliver on that value. So that that becomes part of the challenge.
And also every you know, company that we work with wants to move from reactive to proactive, but we see on the support side, they’re just bogged down with, you know, emails, phone calls, even still faxes today to their, you know, Customer Support Center to that technical service team. They’re, they’re using outdated systems, they’re using outdated manuals and bills of materials. You can see in this picture here, a paper manual. You know, oftentimes when a piece of equipment leaves the factory floor, it’s going with a paper manual.
And we always say that often that paper manual is just obsolete the minute it leaves the factory because parts are always changing. You know, you’ve got obsolescence, you’ve got supersession you know, upgrades are taking place, new new product is becoming available if if a piece of equipment has been in service for 15 years, it’s possible that a part number 10 on this drawing has changed five times in the last 15 years. Right.
And if you’re referencing this old paper manual you could have the wrong information into Typically, that’s what creates these delays in information, getting back to that company to order the right thing that they’re looking for. There also is limited training and use of the current systems, which does leave a dependency on manual processes. And oftentimes, these manual processes are paper.
So you can imagine the risk that companies take when things have a paper process that goes through, but we see this all the time in companies, as well as, you know, tribal knowledge exiting the company, you know, baby boomers are reaching that age now where they’re starting to leave. And I think one of you have had something to say,
Curt Anderson 20:48
no, we’re good. But I was just, I was thinking, you know, being dead spot in the middle of the shop floor, and something’s going on in the machine. And then, hey, we got to go back in the office and get the, you know, you have the instructions for this machine.
And you know, they’re going half a football field away to go get the paper, you know, so I agree with what you’re saying, you know, versus having tablets and the technology on the floor. So this is great. By the way, Chris, in Wisconsin, you really brought you brought Wisconsin strong today. We’ve got Eric Landman and Aaron Courtenay from from Wisconsin on the program. And my friend Tammy from Nebraska is here today as well. So then we have people from all over because of you, thank you.
Kris Harrington 21:27
Yeah, no, this is great. Well, let’s keep going. Because I know we don’t have a lot of time. But, you know, the common outcomes of situations like this are really that, you know, there’s slow growth, there’s low customer satisfaction, it’s difficult for customers to do business with you. You know, you see lower profit margins than you would be expecting people are managing by opinion and not data, because they don’t have the data in their hands to make informed decisions. There’s just an overall lack of competitiveness, as you look across the industry and how you’re competing against others. When you’re in this situation, you’re just not winning.
And then what happens is you you really jeopardize your opportunity to win that next piece of equipment, right. So if you’ve got poor performance on the support side, and now they need to replace the asset that’s running in their operation, are they going to come back to you if doing business with you is difficult. So, you know, that’s kind of what we see, as we’re working with all of these manufacturers today.
And, you know, our solution to that is to tell manufacturers to leverage technology, both leverage the technology that they have, and they are using, and then leverage the technology that’s available that makes it easy for customers to do business with you. And, you know, of course, we’re in the space of providing e commerce e catalog and analytics to manufacturers, because we think that’s the fastest way to give them good information that’s going to help them do their job.
Okay. So, you know, we can go through the benefits of e commerce e catalog, I will say that most manufacturers that we talked to already have an earpiece system in place, and they’re already and they already have CAD systems. And it doesn’t matter if they have multiple different systems across multiple different locations. The beautiful thing about an e commerce and E catalog solution is that it can take all that information from the back end, and make it seamless to your customer.
So when they’re coming in, you know, they have real time access to their price to see availability of parts, they can do it from anywhere in the world 24 seven, and they don’t understand whatever the complexities are on the back end, they just have this one safe place to go to identify the parts and equipment that they need. So there’s, there’s incredible value here for your customer when you do this.
And then of course, there’s a there’s tremendous value for the manufacturer themselves when there’s an analytics module that’s included with the commerce in the catalog platform, because within an analytics module, you’re going to get more information than you would have received. If you were just taking orders over the phone or through email and entering them into your earpiece system.
All you’re getting from that respect is transactional data. What you’re not seeing is all of the real time reports all of the searching that’s taking place. You’re not seeing the the business that you’re missing, and why you may be missing it and from who you’re missing it from because they’re coming they’re searching but they’re not buying So when you combine all of this, there are tremendous benefits, you know? And and really, these are the benefits.
Curt Anderson 25:08
Hey, Chris, if you don’t mind, go back one. If you don’t mind, just go back to that last slide. Real quick. And so we’ve got a question we’re gonna address, but just I want to just take a snapshot of this, if you will, you know, for guys in the audience, or anybody checking this out, look at some of these things, proactive sales opportunities, pitcher, pitchers providing that visual confidence.
I mean, like, when you really look at what you have on the screen right here, this is so powerful. And on your previous slide, you had that one word, you could have one slide, it just says us lack lack of lack of competitiveness, or lack of that competitive edge, you know, and look what this provides with e commerce e catalog, the analytics, Greg mushu, from wood bound, our friend and Madison, he asked on the E CAD, for your E catalog, he would love to hear a little bit more on that. Can you touch a little deeper on the E catalog?
Kris Harrington 26:00
Yeah, for sure. So really what we do, and I have a screenshot of the E catalog in the upcoming slides,
Damon Pistulka 26:05
okay, we’ll wait for that, then. Yeah. But you know, I see this solution is this, this kind of solution in an in an OEM situation is so powerful, because you can have it for your, your service center kind of tech level people, so they can see maybe more of the data or something but your end user, the equipment owner, could even utilize this to to buy direct if that’s what they wanted to do to further increase your your sales opportunities. And, you know, just make it even if they didn’t buy, it would make it easier for them to search and understand your product and feel that you’re really helping them support their equipment better.
Kris Harrington 26:46
Absolutely. That’s, that’s exactly right payment. And that’s what we shoot for is getting, you know, replacing those static manuals that I showed you earlier that have the pages with sticky notes. And making this real time because you know that that parts obsolescence that supersession that replacement, once you have any catalog that’s integrated to the earpiece system, and there’s a process connected back to engineering to to manage all of the engineering change notices and make sure that that information gets into the catalog.
Well, now your customers have a safe place to identify the exact parts that they need for the exact equipment that they own. You know, many of these manufacturers that we work with, yes, there’s commonality across a serial number Vin numbers or models. But typically, there’s a portion of the content that is unique, it’s unique to the options that that operator selected when they bought that piece of equipment. By giving them their their own catalog, they are actually diving into that information and seeing the exact parts that they need and not having to wait through phone calls and other things to get that information.
I’m sorry, go ahead, Damon.
Damon Pistulka 28:03
I was just thinking that’s really incredible. Because if I buy a highly customized piece of equipment, you could tailor that catalog just to that piece of equipment, with your configuration on the on the you know, when they buy the product, their catalog for that unit is is configured to show just what they need and not for other variations that they don’t have.
You got it?
Damon Pistulka 28:27
Wow. That’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah. Oh,
Curt Anderson 28:29
so Chris, are you saying like being on Lotus or having like five different Excel spreadsheets isn’t efficient? I like I’m I don’t understand. I’m just kidding. So once a place I love that line, man, you’re just you’re just throwing a lot, a lot of punches here. Love it.
Kris Harrington 28:43
Well, thanks for grabbing all those. Yeah, and you know, it’s definitely gonna give both, you know, an internal organization and your customers organizations, many benefits and you know, they’re all listed here, you’re going to be easier to do business with, you’re going to get the right product the first time with fewer returns. So you know, if returns are a problem for you, as a manufacturer, this is a great way to cut down on those returns, you’re going to be with the analytics and looking at the insights, you’re going to be able to make better pricing and inventory decisions based on data.
So you’re not managing by that opinion, all the information is going to be in that one safe place like you just picked up on you’re going to move from reactive to proactive, you’re going to have better outcomes with promotional marketing. We find that a lot of manufacturers and we didn’t talk about this on the other slide, but there are a group of people out there in the workforce today that believe that every answer that they need can be found online, right? They will go to Google or to Bing to search for anything that they’re ever looking for.
And if you don’t have a solution that can bring them in from that Google search or that Bing search, then they’re never going to find you Because that’s where they go to get their information today. So you’re going to be able to do some other things as well, to make sure that that you’re seen by those, those groups of employees that are now entered in are working in the workforce, your employees are going to work on those value added activities, customers are going to be more loyal, and you’re going to increase that chance of getting that next piece of equipment.
So, you know, the next part of my presentation, I really wanted to focus on the strategies related to these things that we’re seeing with with the manufacturers that we work with, and that we call upon. And, you know, there are these routine customer questions that come to every call center or the technical service department. And, you know, I think anybody on the call who’s in manufacturing, you can relate to these because this is what they’re calling for, what product do I need? What does it look like? How many do I need? What does it cost me? Does that include tax and freight? How fast can I get it? What does it weigh?
You you’ve heard all these before? And then after they’ve ordered their product, then they want to know, have they shipped? When will they ship? If they haven’t? What’s my tracking information? Can I can I get a copy of my invoice? Can I pay my invoice? You know, can you quote me something that I that I ordered several years ago? These are the questions that will bog down a customer service area and prevent you from getting into that detailed analysis that can help your business grow. At the end of the day, though, this is really important to your b2b customer. You know, I think I mentioned it earlier, but all customers want from the manufacturer is for you to make their job easier.
That’s all they’re looking for all the time. So if you can continue to remember, how do I make it easy for my customers to do their job? Well, if you can answer these questions, that way, they can go easily and answer these questions for themselves online, you’re starting to already facilitate that faster speed and transparency of information so that they don’t have to call your call center. So some things that we like to say to stay focused on are first, to personalize the experience, you know, this is the landing page for a logged in user.
You can see at the top here, I’m I’m logged in with my name, I’ve got my account information, it’s so important that when you start thinking about rolling up an e commerce solution to think about the ways in which you can personalize this for your customers, because your customers expect that you know something about them, because you do you’ve sold product to them, you’re selling actively to them today. So don’t lose that opportunity to make things simple for them.
And to really bring that experience you can see here that, you know, people can come in and go directly to their equipment, they can look at their favorite parts, they can quickly find an order that they’ve placed and they can even search by their p o number making it easy. You know, some screens that I don’t have up here are, you know, you certainly want to make sure that your customers pricing is always actually the pricing that they’re seeing is always that customers pricing.
So if they have contract pricing with you, or they’ve learned they’ve earned a discount with you make sure that’s what they see, when they go into that shopping cart, populate their bill to information, their ship to information, any of their preferences, so that they they don’t have to do the administrative work of those activities. So the first strategy would tell you is you know, make sure to personalize the experience. The next one is to really focus on product search. You know, we know that in all of the stores that are operating for our manufacturing customers today.
Product Search is the first thing that is used and it is the most often thing use. And it’s important for manufacturers to think about all the different ways in which a customer is going to search when they come to your site, you know, in our world. And I think this is true for many b2b manufacturers, people are coming here to browse a product is either down or is going to be down for maintenance in the future. And they’re looking for something very specific. So they might be holding a part in their hand and the vendor Part number is stamped on it.
And that might not be your your part number. But you should be able to allow them to search by that vendor part number and cross to your part number so that they can get price and availability add to their shopping cart and be on their way. You know, a lot of times all that they’re going to know is either their serial number or their model number. Make sure that that’s what they can search by. You know if you’re lucky. They’re gonna They’re going to know the exact part number.
But often, you know more and more that that’s not the case, they’re going to be searching by a description, they’re going to be searching by an assembly, they’re going to be searching by something. The other thing to think about is synonyms. You know, it’s true that people call things, many different things. terminology, like, if you’re looking for a replacement tire, I might call it a tire, you may call it a wheel, somebody else might call it a spare. So how are you ensuring that whenever they’re search, searching for those terms of good responses coming back? So focusing on product search is really important. Any comments there, guys?
Curt Anderson 35:45
Yeah, so so I have one comment, your friend Aaron in Wisconsin, she dropped a bunch of cheese emojis. I’m not sure what’s going on with that. But anyway, so no, that was fantastic, Kristen, you know, I always I, you know, we get so excited these programs we go on and on. And I know everybody wants to get back to the tables, too. So we’re like, we’re almost good. We were almost at eight after. So I just want to be respectful of your presentation. Yeah. And what he wants to get back at the tables, talk to Chris, I just wanted to kind of give you an idea where we’re at timewise. You know, what are other critical things that you want to cover?
Kris Harrington 36:17
Yeah, though, the only other critical things because there was a question about catalogs, let’s make sure that we hit those. And really, this is how we ensure that we’re improving the accuracy of product identification. And really, we’re just repurposing engineering data here to give customers the full bill of materials for the products that they own. So by giving customers access to the bill of material with a 2d drawing, that’s hotspot it or an interactive 3d drawing, that’s also hotspot ID that gets them to the exact part that they’re looking for.
This can be really a game changer for manufacturers, particularly as they try to grow their business internationally where many different languages are at play. And it’s very challenging to, to offer customer support to somebody who, you know, English isn’t their first language. So you’re trying to describe things, if they can come out here, look for their serial number and get to the exact parts that they need, things can move very quickly for them.
And then, you know, include detailed product information specs, you know, other things that a person may need to buy with something that they’re looking for, give them their price, give them availability, and then provide that purchase history.
That’s where all those answers to, when’s my product going to ship? When can I get a copy of my invoice how, you know, I want to read, quote, reorder, these things all happen in that purchase history. And then of course, at the end, make sure that you’re assigning somebody to analyze the performance of your store. If you don’t assign anybody to this, you’re never going to gain the valuable insights that come out of everyone using that same safe place to order information. So that’s what I got, guys.
Curt Anderson 38:09
Well, Chris, I can’t let you off the hook without talking about my one of my favorite words, right. configurator generator? Yes. For now, just so everybody knows if you’re interested. Again, I’ve dropped Chris’s LinkedIn profile in the chat box. I strongly again, thank you, everybody that’s here on Remo. Thank you for everybody on LinkedIn. Drop your LinkedIn in the chat box. Love to connect. By the way, our friend Aaron, she has another emoji that represents Wisconsin. apparently she’s got a bunch of beer mugs full of There you go. Great job. Thank you for joining us today.
But everybody, if you guys come here weekly, you’re probably at one point in time you’re hearing me say the word configurators. Greg, miss you and I talked about configurators. Damon, I are always talking about it. And Greg Miller does a great job of talking about how we get those folks in the funnel. You know, we get around time, how do we stop being the best kept secret? So number one, you guys if you connect with Chris, her, anyone on our team, Kevin, they’ll take you through a demo.
And I’ve gone through it and I’m telling I was I’m hooked. And just kind of I don’t know, Chris, if this is a good analogy, like for e commerce folks, if you’re thinking like WooCommerce Shopify, like you are a replacement, you are a solution and e commerce solution for e commerce for a manufacturer. But can you talk a little bit about engaging? Thanks for joining this week, my dear friend Jean here in New York. Can you talk a little bit about configurators in the solution that you provide for manufacturers there? Yeah. So
Kris Harrington 39:36
what we’re finding is that when manufacturers decided that they don’t want to just sell parts online, they also want to sell equipment online. They want to make it easy for people not to find those parts, but since they’re already coming to the website, let’s give them an opportunity to build that next piece of equipment that they want to purchase. So more and more, we’re getting asked to progress That customer friendly customer facing options configurator. And again, most manufacturers have the configured options in their earpiece system.
So they already exist, it’s bringing that information out front to allow your customers to begin making their own selections, building that product, just like we can do with cars today, when we’re interested in a new car, manufacturers can utilize companies like Gen alpha to help them build that customer facing platform.
And then right again, from one safe place, they can build equipment, when they need a new asset, they can, they can get the support that they need for everything. And they can have that purchase history, not just for parts, but also for new equipment and new purchases there too. So everything kind of ties together. We’re in the business of helping manufacturers bring those solutions to their customers. And again, just keep making it easy.
Yeah, you know, that’s,
Damon Pistulka 40:57
that’s the key, just keep making it easier.
Curt Anderson 41:01
Let’s make it you know, in our, our dear friend who shows up frequently as Allison afford, she talks about how do you make the your customer, the hero of your story. And so that’s exactly what you’ve done you like you’ve just you’ve pre you know, for 40 minutes, look at how powerful these you know, when you say benefits, it’s like, it just, you just can’t emphasize it enough of the solutions for internally, you’re creating a customer service, you know, you’re like Greg’s digital twin, you’re creating that digital twin, for customer service, you’re lightening the load on those folks, you’re making your sales folks job easier.
you’re providing a one stop shop, like you’re saying that safe place for information in a configurator in what we’re constantly preaching, you know, the OEM, I’m gonna say, the luxury, but they’re like, yeah, you know, that’s an easy slide, to get into e commerce when I manufacturer a finished good or proprietary product, with your configurator solutions, that opens the door for all of our custom manufacturers that you know, like Dan bigger, and some other folks really like, you know, Hey, you know what we were left out of this e commerce party, but you can help them configure products that they make all the time, right? Yeah, absolutely.
Kris Harrington 42:08
Yep. That’s the future, that’s the way that people are going to be buying because they’re, again, they’re gonna go to Google. And they’re gonna look for something that they want to buy, and you’ve got to have a way to connect that. And then once they come in, now they start building what it is that they want to buy. So I do believe that’s the direction we’re all heading in. So the earlier we can get started, the better
Curt Anderson 42:33
right now. Exactly. And the nice thing is Chris, like earlier, you’re talking about like being found, you know, we could round up being, you know, stop being the best kept secret. The thing is, with those individual pages, or when you niche down, Damon, we talked about this all the time, when you niche down and instead of just doing custom stuff, you know, custom projects, and you can start niching down into like your strike zone, your wheelhouse. That’s when you start capturing those keywords.
That’s when you have a more effective Pay Per Click strategy. So you go from like, hey, I’ve been metal I cut steel down to I cut metal for lawn mowers I’ve been metal for turbine engines for aerospace. And when you get into that more detail, you know, that could be a whole program in itself down again, you’re just making life so much easier for it to be found to engage with the customer. That customer solution so Wow, I’m Bravo man. This was I had high expectations for I’ve been waiting for this for like four months. Even this was yes
Damon Pistulka 43:29
is great. It was great crush,
Curt Anderson 43:31
crush it, Chris, as we wrap up. And again, I’m trying to get everybody back to the tables because guys stick around. I’d love for you to meet Chris, get a little one on one learn more about Gen alpha. Kevin from our team is here. You guys can come on Brian James IRA, thank you average.
Hey, Dan, bigger gal, everybody. Thank you for joining us on the program. What do you want to leave us with? You know, one question I’m going to ask real quick. When you’re doing that manufacturer, a little bit of resistance, maybe tech, you know, little concern about technology or that that transformation? What do you What advice do you share for that manufacturer? Outside of all these benefits? What What do you share to kind of get them into the game quickly?
Kris Harrington 44:11
I, you know, I think the biggest message I can give is, is just to be not to be shy and say, if you want to be relevant in the future, you’ve got to take steps for this activity. You know that? That’s it? You’re gonna, you know, we were thinking about this at bucyrus. Almost, what is it 20 years ago now. So, we have a lot of manufacturers who haven’t even started yet. And there’s a lot to learn here.
So, again, you might not think that your customers are ready yet. And there is a transition period that is absolutely true. But there’s a lot for you as an organization to learn and to grow into and stepping into this process. So to get started, use that at 20 rule, focus on the 20% of your parts, customers products, whatever it is that make up 80% of your business. Start there crawl, walk, run, but you’ve got to do this to be relevant in the future.
Curt Anderson 45:14
future proofing your business with Gen alpha. So,
Damon Pistulka 45:17
there we go,
Curt Anderson 45:17
guys. Big round of applause, Chris, standing ovation. Nominal, big thank you to our friends in Wisconsin, or New Yorkers, Nebraska, AJ crosses across the world. And, guys, thank you, everybody, for joining us today. Chris. heartfelt thank you for taking time. I know how busy you are. This was really exciting for us. Damon, you
Damon Pistulka 45:39
want to take it? I will. I will. Thanks so much, Kurt. Thanks so much, Chris, for another just just awesome. I mean, we could sit here for two hours and talk about really easily. And we would, we would still have a lot of fun and be ready to go. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone on LinkedIn that’s interacting there and appreciate the comments. Hope you enjoyed the information. We’re here every week doing this the same time. So stop back again next week. Kurt’s got awesome guests coming and sharing more.
I’m sorry, we got one bigger I don’t know if he’s still like Dino did
Damon Pistulka 46:11
had to go. But Dan bigger.
Curt Anderson 46:13
I can’t believe he’s talking about his Twitter chat group with Gail. So Chris wants to talk to you about this. They have this group out every Thursday. It’s just It’s awesome. So guys, great speakers coming up. Yeah, again, thank
Damon Pistulka 46:27
you. Thanks so much for watching us on LinkedIn live we’re dropping back to the tables that remote if you want to join us at the tables and meet speakers like Chris and other professionals in e commerce and manufacturing. You can do that because our link to the Remo platform is in all of our our posts on LinkedIn and Facebook and everywhere else where it goes. So we will see you next week live on LinkedIn. And now we’re going back to the tables.
Damon Pistulka 46:55
Didn’t didn’t didn’t wait. There we go.