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Simplifying complex quoting with unified eCommerce

Configure. Price. Quote. That explains the acronym CPQ which is also known simply as a configurator. You might also know it as guided selling.

Configurators are software applications used by a variety of users including customers, salespeople, and engineers. They can be public-facing or they can be used within a company. They allow manufacturers to configure complex products faster, reduce the need to involve expensive engineers, and can eliminate any possibility of designing a product that cannot be made. You can imagine the amount of money and time that can be saved. They can also help point customers in the right direction, especially when many industries are supported or solution types are available.

When integrated into an eCommerce solution and is available to customers online, CPQ not only proves to earn engaged users but it can also further reduce the people required for complex order taking and make that available around-the-clock. And when the eCommerce solution is also integrated into an ERP, this entire ecosystem is known as unified eCommerce.

Whether the front end faces your account-based customers or the general public at large, the user interface for your configurator doesn’t need to consist of dropdown lists and checkboxes exclusively. Depending on your product line, rich media can be employed in creative ways to substitute for the deluge of dropdown lists and standard web-based input interfaces. Though this can add a significant amount of work to an already complex environment, it also further blurs the line between buying online and buying with a sales rep by your side.

As complex as CPQ can be, the platform on which it is integrated to will usually be as complex to best support it, as well as possessing other key features of eCommerce. Those features include a shopping cart that not only captures the bill of materials generated by a configurator, but it can allow for the purchasing of stock items as well. Therefore, it will have the ability to present a product catalog as a list and in all the details necessary to keep customers from seeking information elsewhere. We have all heard of abandoned carts and the few platforms that send an email to customers that have done so; imagine utilizing this feature for partially completed configurations and to remind customers to complete them. Imagine a customer self-service portal where historical orders can easily be re-ordered from, delivery addresses can be self-administered, and stock items can be favorited. Imagine having several “open” shopping carts that are not deemed as abandoned but as open orders waiting to be placed.

Unified eCommerce can equally support both sides of the same coin. It supports the backend and behind-the-scenes automation or development side of eCommerce, while also supporting the customer’s buying requirements to include CPQ and stock items in a visually tantalizing way. By its nature, CPQ eliminates waste in manufacturing because products configured are capable of being produced. All of this is backed by master data from the ERP.