- About FEDA
- How to Join
- Meet the Board
- Locate a Dealer
- Selling to FEDA Members
- Buying Groups
- Industry Links
AQ Order Status - A FEDA Initiative
By Adam Gazaleh, Product Manager
Progress doesn't happen in a vacuum, and nothing helps us progress faster than an open dialogue with our customers. In February we surveyed AQ subscribers on AQ Order Status, a FEDA Initiative. We wanted to understand who is using AQ Order Status, what their experience is like, and how we can improve Order Status to make it the best product possible. We extend an enormous thank you to the 1,200 industry professionals who took time out of their busy days to answer our questions. There is nothing more comforting than clarity, and we now know exactly what we need to start doing, what we need to stop doing, and what we should continue to do.
Before jumping in, the first thing we want to do is clear up a couple of misconceptions. First, you don't have to create and submit purchase orders through AutoQuotes to access them in AQ Order Status. Orders come directly from the manufacturer so no matter how you create and send orders to manufacturers, they will appear in Order Status. Also we don't charge anyone for AQ Order Status. If you have an AutoQuotes license, you can already start using Order Status in AutoQuotes. If you are a publishing manufacturer, there is no additional charge to start publishing orders. All you have to do is contact us. Order Status is such an amazing feature that we want everyone to have access.
Don't take our word for it though. Let the numbers speak for themselves. According to the data 15% of users check AQ Order Status on a daily to weekly basis and 26% check on at least a monthly basis. While this feature is used by people in many different roles, 40% of users are involved in sales and 62% are using order status to track their own orders.
The most inspiring result is that the majority of users, 79%, say they are likely to recommend AQ Order Status to a colleague. Over 80% of industry professionals surveyed agree that AQ Order Status is easy to use, improves their efficiency at work, and meets their order tracking needs. One respondent called it, "The most complete database of orders the industry has ever seen." After a year of brainstorming, development, webinars, and troubleshooting, we are glad to know that we are providing you with a worthwhile product.
AutoQuotes has never been the type of company that rests on its laurels, and we know that there is always room for improvement. 7% of users who tried Order Status, for one reason or another, abandoned it. 64% of them reported that they tracked orders as part of their job, but they needed to see more manufacturers and see manufacturers update data more often for them to rely on AQ Order Status. We completely understand where they are coming from. Our Order Status Coordinators guided by Michael Greenwald, our organization's president, have worked tirelessly since Order Status' inception contacting manufacturers and working with their IT departments to get them on board. As a resource to manufacturers already providing data, we have recently launched a massive quality control campaign led by Order Status Specialist Luis Ferrer. The primary goal is to provide those manufacturers who have taken the time to make orders available with the resources needed to be successful. The manufacturers who have been responsive and put in the time and effort to give you the most accurate data possible deserve a big round of applause. They have made vast improvements in just the past three months and they won't be stopping anytime soon.
Last but not least, we asked ourselves, "why have some users never tried AQ Order Status?" Almost 30% of survey respondents reported that they have never even clicked on Order Status. The two biggest reasons were not enough time to try it (19%) and a lack of training resources (23%). Well now we are imploring you, find time to save time! The next time you are about to call a manufacturer to figure out when that oven is going to ship, open up AutoQuotes, click on Order Status, and type your PO Number in the search bar. You might be surprised to find that the tracking number, delivery date, and link to the carrier website is right in front of you.
AutoQuotes strives to provide extensive training resources, and we have come to be known for our personal one on one tech support and informative webinars. We are making a commitment this year to provide you with more training opportunities to make it easy to get started with Order Status. Our users are busy professionals and need personalized training.
You spoke and we listened! Keep on the lookout this year for some exciting new improvements to AQ Order Status. Again, a big thank you to all of our survey respondents, participating manufacturers, and all of our valued users.
If you have any comments or questions, please let us know at email@example.com.
The FEDA Data Interchange
By Kent Motes
At NRA 2014 there was a meeting of the Presidents of all 5 associations. The discussion led directly to an initiative to work together with trust, technology, and innovation to improve the efficiency of the channel. The first step was to create standards for data structures, data distribution, and security. The initiative acquired a name: the FEDA Data Interchange. AutoQuotes was asked to participate in the design and in the startup of the FDI.
AutoQuotes works with FEDA President Brad Pierce and with the FEDA Excomm. We have had numerous discussions with 2014 MAFSI president Joe Ferri, with past NAFEM President (and AQ advisor) Jeff Rhodenbaugh, and with FEDA Board members. We read Michael Whiteley's President's letters and attended his NAFEM speeches. The FDI leadership tells us where the hot buttons are and what efficiencies need to be optimized. The first step is Order Status.
The FDI is not limited to FEDA members only. The standards and the data distribution are available to all channel partners at all levels. Although the initiative is very new, it has participation of most major manufacturers; although the data distribution is not yet complete, it has begun.
To manufacturers, the cost of distribution (independent reps, customer service, sales staff) could easily be 10% of the $9.94 billion revenues estimated by NAFEM in the 2014 Size and Shape study. The FDI targets the labor costs of phone calls and emails: the most exacting, tedious, and unpleasant tasks of customer service. It is estimated that 50% of the calls to manufacturer customer service are for Order Status.
Payroll (after merchandise) is the highest expense in dealer distribution. At the dealerships, purchasing agents and project managers spend a significant percentage of their time expediting orders through phone calls and emails. The FDI will deliver the status of orders directly to the dealer desktop, ERP system, and the mobile devices of the salesforce. This will save payroll time and speed up the response to the end user customers.
For Young People and Jobs
Attracting millennials to jobs in distribution in the foodservice equipment industry has become a challenge. Teaching young people about design, sales, installation, and customer service is complex. Commercial kitchen products are high priced, highly configured, or highly specialized (by size, color, pattern, etc). There are 500,000 SKU's and multi-million possible product configurations that are necessary and available in the foodservice equipment marketplace.
But just as important to young people is their lifestyle in the workplace. They grew up with the internet, social media, desktops, and mobile devices. They don't like phone calls (too inefficient), and therefore jobs that require phone calling. They want to work online, anywhere, at any time. The FDI is an investment in technology to automate the tedious tasks in the entry-level jobs and to appeal to their lifestyle.
The FDI Mission Statement
Introduce innovative new technology to the distribution channel. Keep it simple. Charge nothing. Reduce payroll costs. Attract more young people by creating better jobs in distribution.
Then, if successful, iterate. Tear it apart and rebuild it again. Technology is exponential and the opportunities to improve the channel, from manufacturer to rep to dealer to service agent to operator, are comprehensive and diverse.
For more information about the FDI, go to MyOpenOrders.com.
Special FEDA Member Only Features on AutoQuotes
AutoQuotes has taken AQ360 to a new level. The ' new look' is familiar but simplified and cleaner, stylized much like the look of Microsoft Office 2013. You will see ribbons instead of toolbars and drop down menus. You will see more buttons appear and more items selected with mouse-over action. Commands appear conditionally and intuitively, easier to find and more context sensitive.
FEDA members have exclusive access to the AQ Catalog Data Export, which is also new & improved.
These are privileges exclusive to FEDA dealer members. To take advantage of them please contact Rosemary Connor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michael Greenwald (email@example.com). The AQ Catalog Data Export must be "turned on" for a licensed AutoQuotes user.
Once enabled, simply right click in the center panel of the catalog, click "Export Catalog Text," and download. It places a new icon on the desktop (AQ Catalog Data Export). When it is opened, it will automatically verify your login credentials. Also, it takes 24 hours before any catalog data will download.
The exported data can be directed into a local folder of your choosing or into your own MSSQL Server database.
We hope you are on board with AutoQuotes and will reap its many rewards.
AutoQuotes on the iPad
By Kent Motes
The popularity of mobile devices and the expansion of WiFi and cellular connectivity has made Apple and its I-series of products the largest company success in economic history. Last week Apple sold their 100 millionth iPad. Dealers, Reps, Manufacturers, and Consultants are beginning to adapt their workplaces to the mobility of tablets.
We understand why our Users want to access business content and want to use a wide range of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. But corporations are not people, and deployment in our industry is more complicated. Hardware investments, sales force training, new OS’s, and full IT support are a big ticket commitment for FEDA dealers. And there is no yellow brick road.
We believe tablets like iPads should be in every FEDA member’s short term business plan. Here are the reasons why.
Tablets will replace most laptops. At about the same price, they are faster, lighter, more mobile, and a much better tool for sharing product information with a customer or for taking photos for a punch list. For business activity after hours, on sales calls, on weekends, and or on business trips, iPads are a convenient info-expediter.
Tablets are not a desktop replacement. Word documents, Excel, and PowerPoint are apps designed for the desktop. You can view CAD drawings on your iPad, but can do only minimal annotations and editing. Access is not an option. And connecting to your LAN, or using a VPN connection to send stock orders to your AS400? Not now, not yet.
Tablets today are more related to the smartphone family. The screen has an interface based on touch rather than a keyboard and a mouse. The pop-up keyboard is not great for writing long documents, but is OK for email and editing. Navigating applications with taps, flicks, long presses, and pinches is a bit organic and messy at first but becomes more naturally familiar and intuitive than a mouse click. (For tips on iPad gestures, tap this link to a gesture reference guide). Tablets open instantly and navigate easily. They can be viewed in landscape or portrait mode, with the screen automatically changing based on the angle that it is held.
AutoQuotes now has an app in the Apple Store (search 'AutoQuotes' or 'AQ'). AQ is a fast and light version of AutoQuotes. It is not the desktop replacement but is reasonably complete. Not all the reports and the report options are finished. You won’t be editing PO’s, changing discounts in Manufacturer Setup, or modifying Admin functions in AQ. But the Catalog content, your Customer list, your Discounts, and all of your Projects are complete. It opens instantly and navigates easily. Searching products is surprisingly fast.
The FEDA membership has been the core of the AutoQuotes community for 22 years. A big positive for us is to share ideas with you about mobile apps and about how they will benefit your sales force, your engineers, and your IT staff. Shared content delivered efficiently to multiple apps, mobile or desktop, is a business model that we want to assist and to help define. There is no direction but up.