If there’s a single word that summarizes what AV dealers need, it’s this one: efficiency. Dealers need to have efficient installation, efficient project management, and most of all efficient back office processes. Time, after all, is money.
It’s one thing to say it, it’s a lot harder to achieve. Seeing an opportunity to help dealers work more efficiently, SupplyStream launched with the vision of being a complete, web based, industry-specific product catalog, designed to allows AV integration companies to find product information and make wholesale purchases from all of their suppliers, localized into a single web portal. According to Josh Willits, vice president of business development/dealer relations, “We collect and organize product data, including pricing, availability, specifications, videos, and more by brand, supplier and category, then present it in a comprehensive yet intuitive web catalog, making it easier for resellers to find what they need, build accurate proposals, and purchase products from their suppliers.”
Just the database of product information alone is a key feature. Most, if not all AV companies painstakingly build their own product databases with all the specifications they require to design and quote installations: dimensions, weight, power requirements, performance specs, etc. Having had to key all those details into project management software in the past I can affirm how valuable it is to have someone else do it all.
Beyond that, SupplyStream was built to centralize as much of the AV pros’ inventory procurement as possible. One of the most common complains I hear from dealers is that they’ve got too many suppliers and few, if any of them have a decent interface, with clarity regarding pricing, in-stock status and backorders. Because of that, it’s entirely common for dealers to actively work to reduce their total number of suppliers.
Both dealers and vendors face two sides of the same problem. As Willits explained it to me, “Because of websites like Amazon.com’s dedication to usability and fast reliable shipping, dealer expectations of doing business are higher than ever. “Online buying experiences like that make dealers look at the interfaces they have with their product partners and wonder, ‘Why can’t buying inventory be as simple?'”
Willits was also quick to point out that in a study commissioned by EH Publishing they determined that 20 percent of the inventory purchasing by respondent dealers was through retailers and eCommerce channels like Best Buy, Radio Shack and of course Amazon. “That translates to lost sales for our industry partners,” Willits emphasizes.
Willits is adamant that a centralized platform is not only what dealers need and want, it’s what the channel needs to be competitive. “We’ve seen other suppliers in the industry experience tremendous recent success simply because they can deliver an amazon-like buying experience to dealers,” says Willits, “from product selection to easy ordering to fast fulfillment. SupplyStream helps suppliers deliver these same benefits to dealers with the ‘Tier 1’ brands that dealers want and that our industry partners provide.”
For dealers making use of SupplyStream is simple, they sign up for SupplyStream (a subscription costs $29 a month) and unlock their existing suppliers, vendors who they currently have accounts with. Then they can use SupplyStream to find product information and pricing, create proposals for customers, and manage their purchasing all from one central site. “SupplyStream doesn’t change the way vendors do business,” explains Willits, “we improve it.”
For more information, go here.