Category Archives: Order Management

Get The Freight Right

Use Technology To Calculate Freight Rates With Quotes And Orders

Kaity Morris and members of her customer service team are certainly sympathetic when customers express frustration about having to calculate freight quotes when ordering promotional products. They’re mostly quite pleased the frustration is not directed at them.

Morris is Customer Service Manager at HandStands, a Salt Lake City-based supplier focusing on air fresheners and technology accessories. When HandStands quotes a price for an order, shipping costs are included up front. No waiting. No guessing. No problems.

“It’s an extra plus in our customer service,” Morris said of having a real-time freight quote tool included in pricing calculations. “Our customers know shipping costs right up front.”

Obviously the technology to calculate freight costs when placing an over-the-phone or an online order is nothing out of the ordinary. Imagine the hesitation if consumers placed online orders at everyday retail websites with the expectation that yet-to-be-determined shipping costs would be added to the posted cost.

“Who’s going to buy something online if they don’t have the freight? As a consumer, can you imagine going to Amazon and then waiting two days for them to send you the shipping costs?”

That’s Jason Nokes, President of DistributorCentral and one of the team members who developed a freight calculation tool for the promotional products industry. It’s been just over a decade since DC made this function available, yet Nokes knows there’s some reluctance on the part of both suppliers and distributors to have shipping costs included in quotes and pricing, usually because of concerns about accuracy.

According to Nokes, the ability to nail down shipping costs is actually simple and easy. Accurate freight rates can be calculated in advance using real-time data from shipping providers and incorporating internal product and packing standards. The more data and variables plugged into the equation, the more precise the quote.

“Now suppliers are able to present shipping processes and pricing in a manner that’s accurate and positive,” said Nokes. “Helping customers determine how shipping will impact pricing becomes an appreciated aspect of the sales process.”

Feel the love
Tom Mertz, President and CEO of TradeNet Publishing, manufacturer of printed promotional products near Kansas City, offers no pretense about his reasoning for incorporating DC’s Freight Quote function in every quote and order.

“We want the distributor to love TradeNet,” said Mertz. “We realize our customers are busy people and are often working on a quote at night or on the road. If they can tell their customer what the freight will be, we’re making it easier for them to make the sale.”

Mertz said distributors have acknowledged they want to know freight costs up front. “A distributor will take the path of least resistance,” he said. “If they can get an accurate quote from one supplier and not from another, which supplier gets the business? It positions TradeNet as being in partnership with distributors by helping them make the sale.”

Economics is no small part of the equation where TradeNet is concerned. Mertz said a review of customer service calls prior to implementation to Freight Quotes was that 25 percent of incoming calls were related to inquiries and issues associated with shipping costs. Now those calls are rare.

“TradeNet was ultimately able to direct our Customer Service team to spend more quality time with distributors,” Mertz said. “We were able to better concentrate the efforts of our CS team to make it easier to make the sale and to do more business with us.”

Distributors sing a similar song. Rich Graham, Chief Imagination Officer at Dallas-based Big Promotions!, said having accurate shipping quotes at the time of sale is something “you just gotta have and that’s pretty much how it is.” Graham said Big Promotions! relies on the DC freight calculator, indicating it’s especially required for customers who make online purchases during the nighttime hours or on weekends.

Dave White, DEW Ad Specialties, Kansas City, said it’s important to have access to a freight calculator function because of ever-changing costs. “It’s hard to keep up with fuel surcharges that seemingly change on a daily basis,” said White. “It helps us to know we’re being provided accurate shipping pricing without any surprises.”

Simplified and Customized
While online Freight Quote programming is robust and detailed, the ability for a supplier or a distributor to add it to online or over-the-phone price quoting is not. Where DC’s tool is concerned, it’s a matter of the supplier or distributor completing a spreadsheet with as many shipping standards as possible, including product dimensions and weight per shipping quantity. The more detailed the standards and the shipping criteria, the more accurate the quote.

“We hear stories about suppliers using whatever boxes they can find to ship products in,” said DC’s Nokes. “The process of including shipping costs in quotes typically results in improvements of processes and functionality.”

Nokes said the DC software interacts with FedEx and UPS to generate real-time rates. The integration with the two primary shippers factors in the fluctuating fuel surcharges and thus keeps pace with changing rates.

TradeNet’s Mertz said the accuracy of freight quotes through DistributorCentral has exceeded his expectations. Over years of implementation and across thousands of orders representing hundreds of product lines, the quotes are directly aligned with actual costs.

“At the end of the day, we’re looking for a quote that’s fair in the aggregate to TradeNet and the distributor,” Mertz said.

Fully customizable, the Freight Quote tool allows suppliers and distributors to provide customers with shipping discounts or free shipping on selected products or special offers. The DC freight tool is automatically integrated with DC-hosted websites and can also be integrated into custom third-party websites.

“With this freight tool, suppliers are actually helping the distributor sell on line and give more precise quotes,” said Nokes. “Distributors, through their suppliers or on their own websites, benefit by making easier for the end user.”

FULLY LOADED: Order Management Is Best When It Comes With The Works

 

Fully Loaded

It’s been seven years since Denver-based Catch Fire Marketing expanded from print marketing into the larger world of promotional products. Owner Steve Bocher was prepared to take the plunge and was looking for an integrated order management system that allowed Catch Fire to hit the ground running.

Turns out everything he was looking for – web hosting, online proof approval, billing, email hosting, search functionality and more – was available from a single provider. And the price was right: Free.

Steve Bocher“As a new distributor/owner, DistributorCentral was a blessing,” said Bocher. “I could get a web-based product solution, a solution for my website and all the tools I needed. DC made it crazy easy to be in business.”

If it seems Bocher may have been a bit surprised by DC’s capabilities. That comes as no surprise to Jason Nokes, President of DistributorCentral. Nokes said the all-encompassing order management system within DC is sometimes obscured by singular features sought out by distributors. When priorities are placed on DC’s website hosting and product search capabilities, the total package of services sometimes gets overlooked.

Jason Nokes“It’s possible to run an entire business on DistributorCentral,” Nokes said. “Our goal has always been to provide both suppliers and distributors with a full package of tools that increase efficiency, lower costs and generate sales.”

According to Bocher at Catch Fire, it’s beneficial to have a system that’s fully integrated with a database containing 300,000 products and that hosts websites and email. He said the true value starts on the first floor.

“At the most basic level, to be able to seamlessly go from order to proof to purchase order to invoicing is what gives us the most value,” Bocher said. “Those four things are the cornerstones of business that any distributor deals with in the promotional products industry.”

Those critical “cornerstones” are part of a larger framework of services. The DC distributor-focused online order management system is a full-scale utility representing an alternative solution to help distributors streamline business and present far more product information than paper catalogs.

DC’s order management services include the ability to:

• Create and send purchase orders to suppliers
• Receive invoices and make payments to suppliers
• Enable merchant account and PayPal integration
• Manage proofs and artwork
• Provide full reporting tools
• Provide CRM features for customer management
• Import/export customer lists
• Integrate websites and social media
• Issue reorder reminders
• Export to QuickBooks and integrate third-party software

DC’s Nokes said distributors’ use of DC pays dividends almost immediately. Suppliers are typically able to respond more quickly to orders placed online, many actually offering online order discounts. Because the order process is simplified, the distributor saves time and errors are significantly reduced.

All at no cost. For good reason. Suppliers are willing to help sponsor DistributorCentral because they have complete control over product information and can give 100 percent of their distributors access that that information. Other services providers limit access by suppliers to update their product data in real time which can delay pricing updates and frustrate distributors. DC al-lows all distributors to view the product data and (again, for free) build websites for customers to purchase those products.

“If there’s any one notion DistributorCentral has had difficulty in overcoming it is that people often believe when something is free, it can’t be that good,” Nokes said. “DC is rapidly dispel-ling such thinking. We see continued growth as distributors realize DC’s free order management system is more robust and produces traffic equal to or greater than that seen from providers that charge usage and placement fees.”

Nokes points out that suppliers’ product information as posted on DC is typically more accurate. Suppliers are given full control of their product information housed within DC. When not beholden to the placement process and fees charged by other product platform providers, suppliers can quickly and easily ensure their product data is up to date. DC provides the ability to export and forward updated product information to other product platforms, thus requiring suppliers to generate updates only one time. Distributors in turn benefit when they know they’re dealing with accurate pricing.

“We’re always implementing ways to make the DC process simpler, more accurate and more accommodating,” Nokes said. “We know how important that is for distributors who expect such service. When making distributors happy, suppliers realize the importance of incorporating DistributorCentral into their day-to-day processes.”

There’s no need to convince Steve Bocher of DC’s value. With order management, web hosting and the like all being with DistributorCentral, he’s grown Catch Fire Marketing into a truly full-service promotional products provider and an industry leader.

“DistributorCentral is literally part of Catch Fire’s daily routine,” Bocher said. “Our administrators check orders with pending proofs and make it part of their routine to track orders. Our graphic designers use the system for proofs. I would say almost every designer I’ve had over 14 years has been impressed with how integrated the online proofing system is compared to where they were working before.

“DC makes dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s very easy. All you have to do use it.”

Converting your Quotes to Orders- Orders to Quotes

DC offers a  feature  that allows you to convert a quote that you have created into an order. There is also another feature to convert a previous order into a new quote for a customer.

Converting a quote to an order:

-Once you have created a new quote, (click here to learn more about creating quotes) you can convert the quote by going to the top right of the quote area and opening the drop down menu next to “What would you like to do?”

-Here find Convert to Order and hit Go

-You have just converted this quote to an order.

Remember that this eliminates the quote and makes that Quote number the new order number.

Converting an order to a quote:

allows you to convert and existing order back into a quote where you can then have your customer review and confirm before committing to an actual order.

– First, look up your previous order in your DistributorCentral account

–  Then click on the Reorder button on the right side of the page

– From here, you can indicate the order type; An exact reorderA reorder with changes, or Rework of previous order (see description of these below), and then select the check box for Convert Reorder into Quote 

– Then click on the Create Reorder button (see example image below)

– From here, you can revise the quote if you like, and then click on the Finish button officially save the quote, where you can then send it to your customer…if you customer approves the quote, you can then convert that quote back into an order. (see above)

Pay Online Link on Invoices

When you invoice using the DistributorCentral order management system,  you can set up the email invoice to allow a “Pay Online” link for either credit card or Paypal. (Which ever your company is already set up to accept).

Click here to learn about how to setup DC for Paypal.

Click here to read about our other payment options.

Set up this preference:
– Go to the Account menu
– Select Preferences and then Account Preferences
– Click on the Invoices menu on the left side of the page
– From here, select “Yes – PayPal Payment Page” or “Yes- Standard Credit Card Payment Page”  for the Display Pay Online link on invoices preference and then click on Save (see example below)

PayPal Payment Methods for your Websites’s Shopping Cart

You have three options in DistributorCentral with integrating PayPal to collect payments from your customers.

PayPal – Collect Info Only
PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing
Credit Card – PayPal Payflow Pro Merchant Account Processing

You should only select to use one of the PayPal payment methods for your website’s shopping cart.

 

PayPal – Collect Info Only
This option would allow your customers during the ordering process on your website, to indicate to pay you using PayPal. If your customer chooses this option, it’s setup so that you can invoice your customer using PayPal, or you can create an invoice within your DistributorCentral account and the customer can click on the “Pay online now” link in the invoice, where they can then pay you through PayPal.

Click here for specific instructions on how to integrate the PayPal – Collect Info Only method with your DistributorCentral account.

 

PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing
If you want to give the customer the ability to Pay through PayPal during the order process, then the PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing would prompt the customer to pay during the ordering process, so you’d receive the funds in your PayPal account once you get the order, as opposed to having to invoice the customer after you receive the order. You need to have the Billing contact email address in your DistributorCentral account set as the same email address you have setup for your PayPal account.
To do this:
– Go to the Account menu and select Account Maintenance
– Click on the Contacts tab
– Next, if you don’t have a Billing contact setup, click on Add Similar or on the Add New Contact button and setup a Billing contact making sure to use the same email address that you have setup with your PayPal account.

The main difference here, is that PayPal – Collect Info Only, allows you to verify the order and make sure everything checks out on your end, where you can make modifications to the order prior to officially invoicing the customer and colleting payment. PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing, would collect the payment from the customer at the time that they place the order. If you needed to make adjustment to the order (such as artwork, shipping charge, tax, etc.), you’d have to make the adjustments and send your customer an invoice for the outstanding balance.

So the premise is if you want to verify the order before actually charging the customer, you’d want to do PayPal – Collect Info Only. if you have set products on a site that you feel would not need to be adjusted once you receive an order, then PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing might be a good fit.

Click here for more information on integrating the PayPal – Real-Time Merchant Processing payment method.

 

Credit Card – PayPal Payflow Pro Merchant Account Processing
This is considered a Payment Gateway that works as an extension to your merchant account, similar to Authorize.Net. If you choose this payment type, you’d be prompted to setup your Payflow credentials in your DistributorCentral account. The shopping cart on your website will default to automatically pre-authorize the customer’s credit card during the ordering process to make sure that the payment is available for the amount of the order. Then you will be able to verify the order and settle the payment from inside your DistributorCentral account, where the payment would also show a record of the settled payment within your Payflow account.

Click here to review other payment methods that you can use for the shopping cart on your DistributorCentral website.

Add in standard text to your PO’s

If you are using DistributorCentral for your order management system, you can add in general text to show up on all your purchase orders to customers, or all to Suppliers.

This makes it more convenient for those that have standard directions or disclaimers regarding most of their orders. No need to retype for each order!

PO’s to Customers

Add in stock language to order confirmation to your customers:

  1. Go to Account Menu> Preferences> Account Preferences
  2. Here Click on “Orders” on the left
  3. Scroll down to the preferences titled “Would you like to include stock language on order confirmations to your customers?”
  4. Type in the text that you would like to appear on that order to your customer
  5. Save your changes.

That text will appear on all new PO’s here:

PO’s to Suppliers

Add in stock language to order confirmation to Suppliers:

  1. Go to Account Menu> Preferences> Account Preferences
  2. Here Click on “Orders” on the left
  3. Scroll down to the preferences titled “Would you like to include stock language on order confirmations to Suppliers?”
  4. Type in the text that you would like to appear on that order to the Supplier
  5. Save your changes.

That text will appear on all new PO’s here:

Invoices to Customers

Add in stock language or directions on invoices to your customers:

  1. Go to Account Menu> Preferences> Account Preferences
  2. Here Click on “Invoices” on the left
  3. Scroll down to the preferences titled “Would you like to include stock language on all invoices sent to your customers?”
  4. Type in the text that you would like to appear on that invoice to your customer
  5. Save your changes.

That text will appear on all new invoices here:

Other Resources:

DC Order Management and QuickBooks

Paypal and DC Order Management

Invoices with Promotional Information

Adding your Logo to Invoices

General DC Order Management Info

Paypal Integration with the DC Shopping Cart!

You can now allow your customers to pay you via Paypal when they order a product from your DistributorCentral website.

You can set this up by following these simple steps:

  1.  Log in to your DC account
  2. Go to Account Menu> Payment> Payment Setup
  3.  Here Select “Paypal -Real-Time Merchant Processing” by moving it to the right box as a selected payment
  4.  Once you Save your changes, you will be reverted to a page where you will enter in your Paypal associated email

Once this is done, the customer will be taken directly to PayPal upon clicking the “finish” button on the final order page. From there they can pay via PayPal or by standard credit card (if the recipient/Distributor has a “business” PayPal account).

Once the payment is completed, the Customer is reverted back to the Distributor’s website.

Distributors will get the order notification email and receive the order in their DC account whether the Customer completes the payment at PayPal or not.

If a payment is successfully posted at Paypal, that payment record will have the transaction id listed with it in the payment list for the order.

Click here to view other payment methods available for your shopping cart.

Click here for a pdf guide describing each available payment method.

Click here for a supplemental blog entry regarding PayPal and DistributorCentral.

Reorder Types

Reorders can be created for any orders in your DistributorCentral account. However, it is only considered a Reorder if the order is for the same Customer. If the order is for a different customer, then you should always enter the order as New Order as opposed to a Reorder.

An exact reorder – This indicates that there are no changes needed to the artwork/printing of the original order. Even if the quantity, shipping information, etc. will vary on the new order, it’s still considered an exact reorder if the artwork/printing remains the same.

A reorder with changes – This indicates that you will need revisions made to the artwork/printing of the original order. For example, if there needs to be a change in the imprint color(s), a change in the imprint, etc.

Rework of previous order – This indicates that there was a discrepancy or mistake with the original either on the Supplier end or on the Distributor end. For example, if the Supplier printed the wrong artwork, the Distributor indicated the wrong shipping address, etc. Oftentimes, the Supplier and Distributor parties involved will agree to a reduced price for Rework orders.

Click here to learn how to place a Reorder.

Convert Orders into Quotes

DistributorCentral has added a new feature which allows you to convert and existing order back into a quote where you can then have your customer review and confirm before committing to an actual order.

To access this feature:

– First, look up your previous order in your DistributorCentral account

–  Then click on the Reorder button on the right side of the page

– From here, you can indicate the order type; An exact reorder, A reorder with changes, or Rework of previous order (see description of these below), and then select the check box for Convert Reorder into Quote 

– Then click on the Create Reorder button (see example image below)

– From here, you can revise the quote if you like, and then click on the Finish button officially save the quote, where you can then send it to your customer…if you customer approves the quote, you can then convert that quote back into an order.

Reorder Types

Reorders can be created for any orders in your DistributorCentral account. However, it is only considered a Reorder if the order is for the same Customer. If the order is for a different customer, then you should always enter the order as New Order as opposed to a Reorder.

An exact reorder – This indicates that there are no changes needed to the artwork/printing of the original order. Even if the quantity, shipping information, etc. will vary on the new order, it’s still considered an exact reorder if the artwork/printing remains the same.

A reorder with changes – This indicates that you will need revisions made to the artwork/printing of the original order. For example, if there needs to be a change in the imprint color(s), a change in the imprint, etc.

Rework of previous order – This indicates that there was a discrepancy or mistake with the original either on the Supplier end or on the Distributor end. For example, if the Supplier printed the wrong artwork, the Distributor indicated the wrong shipping address, etc. Oftentimes, the Supplier and Distributor parties involved will agree to a reduced price for Rework orders.