HVAC system distributors work hard to sell as many units as possible, but its no longer just about the numbers.Today's sales process is far more complex and multi-faceted, according to Epicor Software Corpration ANZ vice president, Greg O'Loan.
Customers looking to purchase HVAC systems from distributors want reliability when it comes to product and supply. They also want a friction-less experience selling the product which means pricing must be competitive.
For suppliers and distributors, it means finding efficiencies in all areas of the supply chain, including distribution, which can be a significant cost in Australia.
Meanwhile, the market continues to evolve as government lease agreements, National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) and Green Star ratings, along with rising electricity costs have all made the sales process more complex and multi-faceted. This has led to the creation of new products and systems to meet this opportunity.
It has added even more complexity for HVAC distributors tasked with providing customers with the right products and best advice while still maintaining strong margins.
Its not surprising that HVAC system distributors are looking to digital transformation to leverage new technology to reduce costs, increase speed of delivery, improve productivity and make better purchasing recommendations with fewer errors.
This kind of service can engender customer loyalty, which is crucial in a competitive market.
Digital transformation refers to the process in which businesses dramatically improve operations through new and emerging technologies. A new generation of digital technology can let distributors leverage data to gain business insights that let them provide an even better service to their customers.
Unfortunately, many distributors are still missing out on the potential benefits of digital transformation, with a 2019 survey revealing that that distributors across the board were still slow to embrace digital systems.
The upside of this is that HVAC distributors could potentially achieve a competitive advantage by beating other players to the digital punch.
It’s important to note that digital transformation doesn’t have to be all-encompassing. Distributors who apply digital processes to replace just one or two manual processes can start to reap the benefits, which then sets the scene to expand their use of digital solutions.
For example, eCommerce capabilities provided by modern digital systems can help reduce the amount of time distributors spend managing simple transactions, freeing up staff members to focus on high-value customers or those with more complex needs.
Even if a distributor cannot offer full eCommerce capabilities, simply putting a searchable catalogue online can save significant amounts of time since customers can at least find what they’re looking for sooner.
Furthermore, by putting catalogues online, distributors can reduce costs as they will no longer need to design, print and mail their catalogues, which could well go out of date before they’re fully used.
It’s important for distributors to think about not only what will help them sell more HVAC units but also how they can become a trusted advisor to their customers. When customers trust distributors to provide advice and service, they’re often willing to pay a premium.
To become trusted advisors, distributors must commit to digital transformation, adopting products that provide access to accurate, up-to-date data and insights that drive action. Using legacy technology tends to prevent this, while new generation systems facilitate it seamlessly.
One of the most effective technologies to consider for digital transformation is a modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Modern ERP systems can make it easy to gain insights, make smarter decisions, and provide an invaluable service to customers that keeps them coming back.