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February 28, 2007
By Khali Henderson
BECOMING A WIRELESS DEALER CREATES a set of management challenges some similar and some very different than those faced by wireline agents. Inventory is one of them. Whether it is in your warehouse, showroom or in your trunk, you need to be able to track devices and accessories in stock. You also need to be able to process orders, accept payments, log sales and monitor commissions.
To help you with this tall order, B2B Soft offers a subscription-based product called Wireless Standard. Its a business management solution that is delivered on an ASP basis, so it can be used by dealers who process as few as 50 activations per month to 25,000 per month, says Steve Orlov, vice president of sales for B2B Soft. We try to make our system scalable to fill the needs of smaller and larger customers.
And, it works equally well for retail locations, field sales forces or a hybrid model, he says. Pricing is by store or user and varies by volume. Retail dealers pay $80 to $100 per month per store and business-to-business dealers pay $40 to $70 per month per user. Unlimited computer licenses, training and software upgrades are included.
The service is accessible over the Internet from anywhere the office, a retail location or a client site. This means inventory and sales information can be viewed in real time. For the business executive, for sales reps, for the inventory manager, having the information at their fingertips is key, says Orlov.
The system also allows dealers to process orders, including accepting payments in real time. Wireless Standard is equipped to process credit cards, checks and cash payments on the spot, improving time-to-revenue and the level of customer service dealers can provide to customers even if they dont have a retail store. Having to go back and forth with paperwork delays the sales process and makes things very inconvenient for the customer, says Orlov, describing a process that can add days to closing the transaction. And it distracts the sales rep from contacting more leads and prospects.
For the business executive, for sales reps, for the inventory manager, having the information at their fingertips is key.
Similarly, B2B Soft has pre-integrated access to accessory vendors, such as Wireless Xcessories Group (WIREX). This enables dealers to set up an account with a vendor and be able to offer the full catalog of accessories instead of whats available in their on-hand inventories. It also eliminates the timeconsuming process of manually inputting product information and product codes. You are not going to invest millions of dollars in 2,000 SKUs, says Orlov. Once you have the [electronic] catalog with you, you dont have to invest anything. You have real-time access to it and you can place the order right there and then. He says this overcomes a major impediment to selling accessories and offers dealers easy access to a virtually untapped revenue source.
B2B Soft is working on a similar integration with a wireless expense management software vendor. Orlov would not reveal when the enhancement would be available, but said many business-to-business dealers have been asking for the capability.
Wireless standard also includes commission management and reconciliation modules. The former enables dealers to set up commission profiles and apply them to employees or subagents. In addition, chargebacks and cancellations are handled automatically and dont need to be accounted for manually. The reconcilliation feature enables dealers to match carrier reports and PoS data. Orlov says reconciling carrier reports by hand can take an hour or two for dealers with just 50 activations; with Wireless Standard, its three minutes. It saves time and aggravation, he says.
Wireless Standard also includes a reporting tool for executives to pull reports on sales, inventory, order status, commissions, etc. In addition, there is a subscription option, that automatically generates a particular report and sends it to the subscribers e-mail or to a distribution list at a preset time, such as daily, weekly or monthly. One example could be the weekly sales report sent to the sales team.
Finally, the service also makes use of the critical customer data to help dealers better manage their customers. Orlov says once the data is in the system, it can be used to generate direct mail, e-mail and set up for phone campaigns. You also can use it to generate birthday and thank you cards. Naturally, your existing client information is your most prized possession, so you want to use it effectively, he adds.
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