Dramatic improvements in the way Quantum manages special pricing programs through distributors—those real-time product discounts that can make or break a sale—have been achieved by a cross-functional Quantum team. They replaced a clunky manual process with a speedy online system that will save millions and give Quantum and its distributors quick and easy access to special pricing information.
Meeting the Need for Speed
Let’s say a distributor knows that on a particular day a high-volume customer will buy a truckload of our product if we approve a discount—fast. Often such special pricing makes sense for all concerned: Quantum gets a new customer or nurtures a current one; the distributor makes the sale; and the customer gets a great product at a lower cost.
The old paper-laden discounting process was often so slow, Quantum couldn’t react fast enough to be competitive. Or if we did, the tangled paper trail resulted in late reimbursements to distributors (the difference between what they paid for the drives and the discounted price to end customers). Sometimes there were even disputes about just what discounts Quantum had authorized.
There’s No Business Like Electronic Business
With “Distributor Online” all that has changed. Now, distributors ask for special pricing on an easy-to-use web page, Quantum’s approval routing process is automated, and all the key tracking data is stored in a powerful Oracle database. That means the company can approve a special discount in as little as five minutes and process reimbursements within 48 hours.
“This application uses all the latest web technology,” sas Kitty Kwan, Information Systems project manager. “Distributors and Quantum sales and marketing people can send in or approve requests anytime, anywhere.” Nicole Noga, team leader and Business Assessment manager, adds, “We’re providing more real-time interaction with our distributors. Also, we now have a much cleaner way to gather data and analyze our many special pricing programs. This kind of management information will make us more competitive in the marketplace.”
Distributors See the Future–and Like It
“The change in Quantum’s response time to pricing requests has been dramatic,” says Bob Sturgeon, VP of Operations for Bell Microproducts, a distributor with 18 sales offices nationwide. Sturgeon says they also benefit from value-added information on the distributor website. “Quantum has done what everyone needs to do in cyberspace, which is to think like their customers. When you first enter the Quantum website, you don’t get the standard potpourri of menu selections; you see new product announcements plus training opportunities and materials available, which is great for our salespeople.”
To make such a process change work, it took a dedicated cross-functional team. “We’re very excited about the system,” Noga says. “If ever there was an example of a team working across boundaries, demonstrating the Quantum values, and having an impact on ROTC, this is it.”
Archive: Published in Quantum’s employee magazine, Quantum Globe