Ron Flynn is manager of web systems and integrations at Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures and washroom accessories and industrial safety equipment.
Flynn will be a speaker in the “The Integration Game: ERP, PIM, Ecommerce” session June 21 at the EnvisionB2B 2023 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.
DC 360: What is driving B2B companies like Bradley Corp. to expand online?
Flynn: Our main driving factor has been to make it as easy as possible to do business with Bradley Corp. We want to provide tools that will empower our customers to view and process quotes and orders just as we would internally at Bradley.
We want to be able to say that everything our customer service team has available to them for quote and order management the customer also has available.
DC 360: What are your biggest internal or and external barriers?
Flynn: Change management is our sole barrier both internally and externally. And what this really means to me is that we need to manage the development pace to production release. We can add a dozen new features that we believe will help our customer base, but if they cannot consume the functionality at the pace we are releasing, then we are going in reverse and creating a system that is counterproductive to our customers.
DC 360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?
Flynn: Creating customer satisfaction by providing the information they need at the times they need it, such as warehouse/plant inventory availability, live freight/logistics calls to our primary carriers, and pricing — discounting and providing the ability to convert to order from each operational point in time, whether it’s a specification or quote.
DC 360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them?
Flynn: Vision — have a vision of where you are going, and make sure that the largest piece of that vision is the voice of the customer. Having the shiniest tool in the box means absolutely nothing if no one is willing to pick it up and use it.
DC 360: Regarding COVID-19 and supply chain disruption, what is the biggest adaption your company has made?
Flynn: We have partnered with our carriers and connected to API endpoints that allow us to calculate freight costs live during quoting and ordering for immediate feedback, giving our customers true costs when they need them the most.
DC 360: Looking back over the past few years, is there anything you wish you had done differently in ecommerce?
Flynn: We should have taken a cloud-first approach with the server architecture for ecommerce. This would have allowed us to scale our customer needs quickly and efficiently. We will move our on-premise architecture this year into next year, but we’ll have doubled our efforts in doing so.
DC 360: What excites you the most in new digital commerce technology?
Flynn: The technology that is going to revolutionize and disrupt digital commerce that is just taking foot is model-based 3D configuration and visualization. Currently, WebGL and soon the UnReal 5.x engine will do for ecommerce what artificial intelligence is doing for customer-driven analytics.
DC 360: Going forward, what do you see as the most significant commerce challenges and opportunities?
Flynn: We feel that one of the most significant challenges is keeping the business technology cohesiveness among the organizational departments. Mentioned earlier was the challenge of our customers absorbing the features we release Now take that and imagine how much friction it creates among cross-functional teams and departments, given resource load and capacity, and that we are not driving our departments with the exact same goals and time to market.
Jim Daly is a DC360 contributing editor covering digital business technology and strategy.
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