REVIEWER: Ben Hume, president of Alco Ventures.
BACKGROUND: Formed in 1981, Alco Ventures Inc. is a mid- size manufacturer of specialty, high-quality building products including railings and retractable screen systems. Alco uses a traditional business-to- business model to sell through independent installing dealers and to retailers such as Home Depot, Windsor Building Supplies and Beaver Lumber. Alco's vision was to create a custom Web experience for every visitor and allow those who want to serve themselves to do so.
PLATFORMS: Windows NT, 98 and 2000.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Quoting and order processing costs associated with Alco's new Mirage roller screen were hurting the company's overall performance goals. The Alco sales staff was spending far too much time developing custom builds of material for each order, not to mention the effort clarifying and quoting what customers wanted. In addition, Alco was not taking advantage of its Web site as anything more than an online brochure. The company needed to tie together information from different parts of its business to become more efficient. The goals were to reduce costs, improve customer service and provide marketing support for the dealers. Before implementation, quoting and order processing were costing the company and hurting overall performance goals. With 24x7 online access that encompasses custom design all the way through to the payment processes, Multiactive's Entice! (served by eXcape.net, Alco's application service provider) not only costs less than other solutions, but covers the whole spectrum of Alco's e-business needs from Web site personalization to customer tracking.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product is functioning very well. Entice! was properly set up for Alco's needs and continues to perform and meet the needs it was expected to. The next move will be to fully utilize the one-to-one designer.
STRENGTHS: Entice! addressed all of Alco's needs and assisted Alco in reducing costs and improving customer service. Entice! also enabled resellers to serve themselves, while quickly completing transactions over the new extranet. It also provided a simple way to upgrade from the current system to a full e-CRM software package at an affordable price.
WEAKNESSES: Entice! is quite complex to set up and very hardware intensive. In addition, the calendar system has a few limitations.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Alco selected Entice! for a couple of reasons, the first being price/performance. Entice! is a complete suite of products that supports both Web marketing and customer management at all touchpoints of the organization. To receive similar functionality from competing products, the price would be greatly increased. Also, Alco was already a user of Multiactive's sales automation software. Therefore, there was little training involved for employees, as our employees were already familiar with the metaphors (buttons, etc.) in Entice!
DELIVERABLES: Alco was pleased with how Entice! integrated with both OMetriX and the IMS ERP system. Alco needed to have a CRM tool that would not inhibit the ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technology. Integration of Entice! with the back-office ERP system let Alco update manufacturing subsystems such as order processing and work-order handling. Multiactive Professional Services, eXcape Incorporated and HM Systems were also able to link Entice! with the IMS billing and accounting modules. In addition, Entice! reports such as the "sales pipeline" and "customer profile" allow for more control and sales forecasting abilities as well as a method of learning exactly who the customers are.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The team of Multiactive consultants interviews and evaluates business needs and then implements the software. When complete, training is provided. This speedy implementation means that business doesn't suffer, and the benefits of the software are used right away. In addition, support is always available via e- mail and phone.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation provided was good and fairly easy to understand. The product could be run relying on the documentation alone.
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