REVIEWER: Todd Mueller, strategic planning and analytics senior manager for J&L Industrial Supply.

BACKGROUND: J&L Industrial Supply, now part of MSC Industrial Supply, a $1.7 billion distributor of industrial supplies, is considered the largest metal-cutting and finishing specialty distributor in the U.S. With the powerful combination of selection and availability of a catalog distributor, technical expertise and services of a cutting tool and abrasive specialist in addition to products and services of the most progressive metalworking manufacturers, J&L has an unmatched competitive advantage.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows/Dell servers, 64-bit Microsoft SQL Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: J&L’s previous heavily manual pricing strategies created drags on our distribution effectiveness and manufacturing productivity, so we made it an operational priority to update our pricing processes. Given our transaction volume and the large number of SKUs under management, J&L needed an automated solution that could break down operational silos and provide insight from across the organization into the factors that impact our pricing processes - all without employing an army of analysts. The price optimization solution we selected needed to help us take a more forward-looking approach to pricing by enabling us to better analyze pricing decisions at the transaction level. We also needed more detailed customer segmentation information to develop accurate pricing profiles that would lead to better, more customized promotions and incentives.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Symphony-Metreo Vision was the ideal pricing intelligence solution to help us get started. Metreo Vision is especially well-suited for companies like us that need to first get a better handle on pricing analytics in order to identify existing issues and streamline processes on the path toward achieving true price optimization. Metreo Vision helped us clearly identify where our margins really were, the customers that were the most profitable and where we were over- and under-charging. With better visibility across product categories and regions, Metreo Vision was able to clarify what adjustments needed to be made in order for us to give the customer the “right price.” It helped us to identify cases when pricing was too low, highlighting an opportunity to improve the margin. It also enabled us to identify where pricing was too high, with an opportunity to lower prices and increase revenue.

STRENGTHS: Symphony-Metreo Vision is the most comprehensive B2B pricing intelligence solution we found that directly addressed our analytics and price optimization needs. Metreo Vision’s intuitive, graphically rich application user interface with zoom and drag-and-drop features for better analysis, charting and reporting make it a valuable, easy-to-use tool for both our business managers and pricing analysts. In addition to in-depth transaction, portfolio and opportunity analysis capabilities, based on its 64-bit architecture, Metreo Vision provides the scalability and performance we need to make rapid pricing decisions based on changing business and competitive dynamics.

WEAKNESSES: J&L would like more complex filtering than is provided out of the box today, or to have the ability to upload our own filters. As we upgrade to new versions, we look forward to taking advantage of more advanced graphing capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After evaluating more than a dozen alternatives, Metreo Vision best met all our criteria for a comprehensive B2B price optimization solution. It also stood out as the clear leader in demonstrating strong customer results across both price analytics and price optimization categories.

DELIVERABLES: Metreo Vision enables us to very quickly generate and work with easy-to-use reports across multiple flexible templates like waterfall comparison, cross tab, bow tie, scatterplot group, trend comparison and summary reports. Summary reports are the ones we use most frequently.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Metreo Vision application is easy to implement, and we were able to see results after only two weeks. We were fully operational after just three months. Our team had very little difficulty learning the software - the most challenging aspect for users was learning the nuances of our own company data. The best part of working with Symphony-Metreo was the level of service and ROI. Within three to six months, we were able to generate incremental margin dollars that exceeded the total cost of the project.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easily understood.

Symphony-Metreo Vision
Symphony-Metreo, Inc.
2475 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 935-9400
http://www.symphony-metreo.com/

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