EPICOR Strengths: the cloud-based product configurator used externally
How to quickly reach customers interested in products that can be custom configured using a range of diverse parameters? How to enable customers to self-configure and price their products and, in addition, present visualizations of their “designed” functional products in their specified environment? The answer is the EPICOR CPQ.
The Product Configurator is software that is an integral part of the Epicor Kinetic ERP system that allows the creation of optimal configurations of the elements that make up a product – we wrote about this in our previous blog post published in the EPICOR Strengths series. However, EPICOR also offers a second variant of the configurator, the CPQ, which is a cloud-based Configure Price Quote solution. It allows customers to configure their products, see their prices, receive the supply offer, and for the company to manufacture them according to the chosen parameters.
Unlike Epicor Kinetic’s internal ERP part configurator, customers wishing to use the CPQ need to purchase it separately. Why does it make sense?
On the one hand, CPQ’s functionality matches what is available to Product Configurator users. In terms of BOM (Bill of Materials) and production schedule, we have the same capabilities at our disposal (for details, refer to our already mentioned earlier blog post). The advantage of the CPQ, however, is the sales functionality, as the solution can be made available via a web browser to end customers.
The benefits of using the CPQ are best demonstrated through actual examples. The CPQ is similar to the automobile configurators that most people come across. However, the solution will work well for all companies offering products that require a customized approach, which must be correctly configured before production. Traditionally, this was done by a sales representative asking customers questions or sending them questionnaires. However, this took a lot of time, plus it was often plagued with errors. The CPQ allows customers to configure their products themselves.
Imagine a manufacturer of doors and windows or window blinds who offers many different types of products, in many different sizes and colors, produced using a variety of materials.
A customer goes to a website, where they indicate the type of door they are looking for. It is to be flush, without any ornamentation, and made of wood with bleached oak texture. On second thought, if maybe dark pine would be better – no problem, the product configuration is being created in real time. Then one can choose the dimensions of the door. And now the best part: all the customer has to do is turn on the augmented reality option in the CPQ running in the browser on a device that has a camera to see what the door they configured will look like in reality. They just point the lens at the space where the door is to be installed, and the system will present it “pasted into reality” – this can be done both from inside the house and from the outside in the case of exterior doors.
If the product meets the requirements, the customer can find out what the price will be and the lead time, and then order the door of their choice. In addition, its transportation can even be arranged right away. Door suited perfectly to your needs, ordered without leaving home, with delivery to your doorstep. The same will be true for the sale of garden sheds, specialized assembly lines, or industrial equipment such as restaurant kitchens.
This is a great benefit to the customer, but at the same time a huge benefit to the manufacturer. The CPQ makes it much easier to reach customers, speeds up the sales process and on top of that, it provides a great experience for the end customer, who can configure the product at their own pace, considering more options and seeing which one will be optimal. It is sales assisted by a smart solution that shows the customer what they are buying, for how much, and when they will receive it. Everything is done via a web browser in real time. And on top of that, once the order is placed, the manufacturer has the already mentioned BOM and production schedule ready. Ultimately, the CPQ makes it possible to boost transaction volume and, at the same time, reduce customer acquisition costs and efforts in a relatively simple and quick way.
In addition, because the CPQ runs in the cloud, from the point of view of users, there are no costs of purchasing software, server infrastructure, telecommunications services and maintenance of the entire environment.
What’s more, the solution has a built-in simplified graphical programming language. The low-code approach allows dragging and dropping entire programming structures. In practice, this means that the websites that will be used by the end customers can be designed by the business staff, who do not need to have any programming skills.
In doing so, the CPQ can be integrated with other IT systems, such as the AutoCAD software. Once the setup is done, simplified 2D or 3D drawings can be obtained. Specifications from the CPQ can be easily translated into AutoCAD technical drawings used later at the production stage.
Of course, the CPQ is integrated with EPICOR Kinetic ERP, but it can work simultaneously with other ERP systems or even as a stand-alone solution – the system works with a standard MS SQL database.