After a year of initial research, a six-man technical development team has created an iPad app for sales representatives out on the road. Developed from an operations perspective, the goal behind eCat has been to create the ultimate interactive sales tool to show product vividly and efficiently, to take and submit the order, and to check inventories and order status, all in record time.
Now in its third generation with six months of proven performance by the Sarreid Ltd. multi-bag reps, Sarreid has sold off the eCat software to a new company, SuperCat Solutions, LLC., formed in January by investors, the software designer, and the independent software development company that created it.
“What makes eCat different is that it takes the perspective of what a sales representative needs to serve the retail dealers and write orders out in the field, and what the company needs to process orders and better manage the sales function,” says Steve Thrasher, president of SuperCat and operations manager for Sarreid. “It is not just a glorified version of a print catalog. eCat automatically syncs with a web server over a secure connection to keep product, pricing and inventory information current, and to efficiently share updated information with the sales team.”
Focused on streamlining the process from the presentation through follow up account service, eCat does it all, online or offline. For example, the user can choose from three product display options, all showing both descriptive information and inventory availability:
• Quick View for rapid browsing of all products within categories;
• Presentation View with large photos and ability to ‘zoom-in’ to view product detail;
• Detail View with extensive product information.
Customized filters enable the user to show specific product groups, items available for immediate delivery, or only new items recently introduced. Within each view are multiple selection criteria including trade name, collection, room or product grouping, functional categories, string searches for similar products, and Smart Stacks of specific product groupings.
As the sales representative works with a buyer, items can be placed in an order cart with special features such as a “Maybe List” and a review feature that allows the buyer to look at thumbnail photos of the order for final decisions and editing. The user may choose to suppress all pricing, specify standard pricing set by the vendor, or access special custom pricing levels also determined by the vendor. eCat also provides information about minimum orders or products which must be ordered in multiples or as sets.
“We spent a year talking with sales reps and studying how they work before writing the first line of software code. Essentially, we’ve taken the step by step details of the sales process from introduction through delivery and put it at the fingertips of the sales person as they work with the dealer,” Thrasher says. “The app has been created through the eyes of management as a nuts and bolts approach to transforming each step into a digital transaction that ultimately provides the sales representative as well as the buyer with everything they need from us to make a decision and place the order.
“Now, management knows exactly what is happening out in the field and can better manage the sales team, inventory and their business. Sales representatives find that this one-and-a-half pound tool is intuitive, replaces 100+ pounds of printed sales materials and shortens the time spent with each buyer, enabling them to make more calls. Buyers can get answers on the spot and streamline the time they spend selecting and purchasing products,” he says. “eCat is reliable, current and intentionally designed to be easy for non-technical users. It is the smart way to equip your sales team.”
SuperCat Solutions, LLC (mcneillcommunications.com), develops and markets eCat, an iPad- based app which provides a sales presentation tool specifically designed to meet the needs of companies and sales representatives in the home furnishings and gift industries. eCat vividly displays product, reduces marketing costs, speeds product introductions, improves inventory turns, and enhances company operations and sales efficiency.