In E-Commerce Move, Dental Products Maker Considers Pricing, SaaS Integration to Microsoft Dynamics GP
When Zila Inc., a dental products manufacturer, decided to seek a solution to use the web to sell its products, including the Rotadent Professional Powered Brush, directly to consumers, the company knew it needed a something that easily integrated with Microsoft Dynamics GP.
But finding such a solution at a reasonable cost was not an easy proposition, according to Albert Bachman, Director, Management Information Systems at Zila. "When we were looking for a solution we were looking for something that would connect to Dynamics GP and we found a very limited number of people that could do that," he said. "Initially some of these solutions we looked at were tens of thousands of dollars and we didn't have that kind of money."
Additionally, Bachman said Zila wanted a solution that was user-friendly.
After much research the company decided to go with kCentric Technologies Inc., maker of k-eCommerce, business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics GP.
Dominique Caron, Director Business Development at kCentric said customers like Zila are looking for cost-effective solutions to their e-commerce needs.
"They come to us because of cost issues," he said. "We are the only ones that offer an e-commerce solution with integration to GP and AX in a SaaS model. All our competitors require that a license be purchased and it be installed on premise. We have a big advantage because the people we're dealing with don't have a large IT department and they don't want to add more work to IT."
Expanding into B2C with Dynamics GP Integration
Before deciding to sell to consumers online, Zila had been selling only to dentists, who then prescribed the products to their patients. But dentists could only place their orders via the telephone or with a member of Zila's salesforce. But Bachman said the B2C site, which has been up and running for over a year, is working so well, the company is getting ready to move to an online B2B site designed and implemented by k-eCommerce.
"Getting ourselves on the web was really our biggest business problem," Bachman said. "All of our data was in GP and we needed to make that available to our customers. The integration back to GP is very nice. It allows us to make a change to a customer in GP and that change can be reflected on the website. And orders that are taken on the website automatically flow into GP, which makes thing very nice."
The Value of Hosted E-Commerce
Caron believes that the low cost of its hosted solutions is a key for many new customers.
"They want to try the waters of B2C," Caron said. "It's a worthwhile investment. We have a startup cost of $10,000 including the design. So what we offer is a real turnkey solution for the customer. [For that the customer now] has an e-commerce solution with a connection to Dynamics GP or AX so he can start testing the waters to see if its successful or not. Up to now they've always been successful."
The k-eCommerce solution includes a product catalog, shopping basket with integration to popular payment gateways, web content management, and popular shipping companies like FedEx, UPS, USPS and Canada Post.
Caron said the k-eCommerce solution also acts as a customer service agent. Because of its integration with Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX, it is able to pull all the critical information that a customer service representative would look at including the product records with quantity on hand, invoicing and shipping as well as shipping addresses.
"It looks at the order history of that customer so at any time the customer can call up an old order and he can reorder that or he can call up an order and see what invoice it's on," he said. "We pick up all of the pricing for that customer so when he's looking at a product he sees it at his price as defined in the ERP. And the tax schedule payment methods and shipping methods are picked up by the ERP so we can link them up to the e-commerce so the information flows from the e-commerce solution to the ERP itself."
Bachman said k-eCommerce connected with GP very quickly. "They were in our system for a couple hours and they were connected," he said.
His advice for other companies looking to move to the k-eCommerce solution is to make sure the users get properly trained on the solution.
"The biggest thing is making sure you do the training because the solution is very flexible and there are tons and tons of things you can do with it," he said. "So paying attention in training and taking good notes during the training is important. So if you want to add a new page it's very easy to do. But you need to know how to do it."
Caron re-iterated the importance of the business reserving employees who will invest the time to embellish the product catalog with pictures and maybe video files that people can download. And, he adds, they need to be sure they have payment gateways in place, so they can take payments online.
The Importance of the iPad
kCentric also sees the importance of the growth of the iPad in allowing salespeople to instantly access their customer service modules where they can review their customers' order history, access their electronic products catalog and complete purchase orders in real time without direct access to the ERP interface."The iPad allows the sales person to be mentally prepared," Caron said. "He can look at the customer's history and see the orders and know what the customer should be ordering. The salesperson can also instantly show his customers new products at that customer's instead of having to call back to the office or log in somewhere else. The great thing about the iPad is it's wireless and it's no bigger than an order pad. All things that are big pluses for the salesperson."