The Cloud-based platform was set up to drive growth for commercial equipment for the restaurant and hospitality, hospitals and theme park sectors, but thanks to its success, is receiving requests from F&B processing machinery manufacturers and distributors.
Close deals faster
George Spears, CEO, ePN, told BakeryandSnacks the ePurchasing Network helps manufacturers increase visibility and efficiency to expand sales and close deals faster.
“It was designed to challenge outdated catalogs, inaccurate product information and speed up online orders and sales management,” he said.
“Manufacturing and distribution channels are plagued with inefficiencies. Take, for example, the first step in the purchasing process – researching a product. Whether you’re an end user buyer or a dealer distributor, paper catalogs are the de facto source for product information. It’s been this way for decades. Yet, these expensive and often outdated materials add costly cycles to the buying process.
“Dealers work with thousands of products from multiple manufacturers, adding up to potentially hundreds of catalogs, many of which are obsolete as soon as they hit the shelf because product portfolios, information and specifications change constantly.”
According to Forrester (The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2015), 74% of B2B buyers research at least half of their work purchases online and they want access to rich product information from a single source.
Spears added a new breed of buyers of 'Millennials and Gen Xers' now expect to replicate their consumer-buying experiences in the workplace. But, without an online showroom to sell their products, and multiple channels to sell (e-commerce, online and mobile), it becomes harder to reach this new breed of customer.
“B2B buyers continue to expect an ‘Amazon-like’ experience with a real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transparency,” he said.
One of ePN’s customers is Alto Hartley, a food service equipment dealer in Alexandria, Virginia, US.
Peter Huebner, president, Alto Hartley, said it has adopted the eCommerce Hub as an extension of its physical showroom.
“The eCommerce Hub helps us move inventory from our warehouse and is a convenient re-ordering tool for repeat customers,” he said.
“At the end of a busy shift, a chef might want to place an order for a needed item. We no longer risk losing those after-hours orders while also freeing up our sales reps to focus on value-added selling.”
Thanks to its success, Spears said he has received requests from a German F&B manufacturer and the Middle East to sell food processing equipment in bakery.
It also works with Globe Food Equipment Company, which provides food preparation equipment to the Commercial Food Service and Food Retail industries, and will be exhibiting at the Nafem Show in Florida, February 9-11, 2017.
“Our platform is flexible. Our focus is on complex equipment; we can sell food processing equipment online because the challenge for distributors is repeat ordering and selecting items that go with a particular piece of equipment. That is the equipment we sell online. We cater for global manufacturers,” he said.
Spears added its online store is simple to set up for customers and takes between 30-60 days, depending on the number of products they want to sell, access to data, installation videos and operational brochures and manuals.
North American food manufacturing segment
“Why is this better than what is on the market? Currently, in the North American food manufacturing segment, there is a problem with data and accessing information in real time,” he said.
“If a customer wants to launch a platform, they either have to do it themselves or find an off-the-shelf platform, which they have to configure themselves and that can be up to a year or more to do, plus the operational costs of maintaining the content within the platform.
“We’ve created a pre-configured platform with modules depending on what the dealer wants to accomplish and we can set it up according to their needs.”