SellingPoint Overview: Content Creation

Engineers can make use of the following features:

Data import from external sources to SellingPoint catalogs

  • Import from file systems through SellingPoint Connectors including Microsoft Excel files, Microsoft Access databases, Microvellum library files, and more. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

Data import from line of business applications and live data sources to SellingPoint catalogs

  • Setup live connections to active data sources and bring information into SellingPoint as it changes. This includes ERP, MRP, accounting, supply chain management, and other line of business applications. Server based databases such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle, and Sun’s MySQL are all compatible with SellingPoint’s integration standards. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

Import from multiple sources to construct a single SellingPoint catalog

  • Often times the data needed to construct a catalog of products is spread across several repositories, especially when working with custom line of business applications. Specifications and availability may be in the MRP system, pricing details may be in an Excel spreadsheet, and images and rendering may be in a folder on another computer. SellingPoint can collect these resources dynamically via a custom SellingPoint Connector.

Create catalogs

  • SellingPoint catalogs contain all the information about products that a manufacturer would like to post to a given web site. This includes details of a product such as specifications, prices, images, options, availability, and more. SellingPoint Management Studio gives full control over creating such catalogs from scratch, making it ideal for shops just getting started that don’t already have their data in other electronic formats.
  • Every catalog in SellingPoint is fully parametric and is interpreted by a spreadsheet engine. This means that most aspects of a product such as pricing, availability, material choices, and options can be controlled by easy to understand spreadsheet formulas. SellingPoint is largely compatible with Microsoft Excel formula syntax.
  • A single catalog can hold up to approximately 20,000 products.

Empowers engineers with the ability to express and enforce their intent at a manufacturing level

  • Not everything can be manufactured the way a customer would like, nor is it smart to do so. SellingPoint makes it possible for engineers to program in the rules they want followed when customizing a product. These engineering rules will be enforced online so that it’s impossible for sales people or customers to order an invalid product configuration. This ensures that orders come in to the manufacturer clean and accurate, reducing the amount of time it takes to move the job to the shop floor.

Modify catalogs

  • Once a catalog has been initially created, it can always be updated and modified later on. This is very useful in situations where only a few products need to be updated across a large catalog.
  • SellingPoint carefully tracks these changes so that they can be properly synced with the online web site.
  • In cases where SellingPoint Connectors are used, SellingPoint may also write the updated data back to the original source so that it also stays in sync. For instance, this is done with Microvellum libraries to ensure the data is consistent across all locations.

Real-time 3D rendering of 2D profiles

  • Products that are described as a 2D profile, such as trim and molding, can be rendered in real-time in the online store’s layout designer. Any polygon can be interpreted without the engineer first applying a 3D model to the object. SellingPoint will automatically ready the polygon, extrude the profile, apply a texture, and display a revolving 360 degree view of the object in 3D space.
  • Any number of textures can be added to a catalog and made available for such profiles in the rendering process. Each product can have its own set of textures.
  • The purpose of the online store’s layout designer is to allow the customer to assemble products and apply textures to closely represent what they expect to be manufactured. A visual of this is always included with orders and quotes so that the engineer can not only see the specifications but also an image of what the customer expects to receive.

Publish catalogs

  • Normally, keeping an online store up to date with the correct information is very challenging and time consuming. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have one or more persons dedicated to this task. SellingPoint greatly simplifies this process by automating the synchronization of new, updated, and discontinued products.
  • SellingPoint gives the organization the choices as to how they want to handle update scenarios, such as when a product’s price changes: do you honor the old price if the customer already started to order or do you enforce the new price at checkout.
  • Catalogs can be changed as often as needed to ensure quality of information in the online store. There is no limit to the number of times a catalog can be changed and published. Compare this with other systems such as 20/20 which severely limit the number of times one can publish a new catalog or library. Additionally, remember that the catalogs are modified at the pleasure of the manufacturer and its personnel. Compare this with other systems such as 20/20 which require that such modifications be outsourced at considerable cost and time.

A common modification and publishing interface for all catalogs and stores

  • Engineers can easily work on multiple catalogs at once, even doing so side by side for easy comparison.
  • Publishing to multiple stores is easily done through the common interface which makes it possible to see all online store accounts at once. Publishing settings can be customized to each store.
  • Last minute error checking is done during the catalog publishing to ensure that errors in the online store are kept to a minimum. Common mistakes and caught and the user is notified. Products that contain issues known to cause problems online will be skipped to ensure the integrity of the online store. The results of this check and suggestions on how to resolve the problems are generated at the end of the publishing for the user to review.
  • A detailed publish log is always generated for verification that all products were successfully transferred and what their current state is. These logs are also kept available for historical review, making it possible to review any previous publishing of any catalog to any store.

Order download and processing

  • In SellingPoint, orders and requests for quotes can be viewed very much like email. The order is kept on the server, at the online store, when it is submitted. When the manufacturer enters the order area of SellingPoint Management Studio, the program will automatically check for orders much like you would check for email. If an order exists and it hasn’t already been downloaded to the user’s computer, it will be downloaded.
  • Orders can be downloaded and viewed in this way across several computers. This makes it ideal for customer support departments where several personnel are required to process the orders coming in. It also makes it easy for one user to pick up the workload of another in case there is a heavy influx of orders.
  • Multiple online stores can be viewed all at once through a common, flexible interface. This makes it easy to monitor multiple online stores in a single view or each store in its own view, whichever is preferred.
  • An order will contain all information about the product, including changes and comments made by the customer.
  • Orders will always be saved to the server, or online store. So even if a user deletes one from their local computer, it will still be available for recovery off the server.
  • Orders can be easily edited in case discrepancies are found.
  • Printing orders is easy and gives a concise view of the contents of the order. The format of this print out can be modified at any time by the user.

Establish a dialog between manufacturer and customer

  • Whoever generates an order through the online store will be interested in its status and progress. This may be a consumer or a sales person. Either way, SellingPoint makes it easy to communicate status and progress back to them instantly and electronically.
  • Set the status of an order to different levels such as pending, approved, rejected, or completed. In each case, notes can be attached to further supplement or explain the reason for the status change. For instance, if a last minute change left the company short with the needed materials, the status of the order can be set to pending or rejected with notes explaining the problem and what needs to be done to reach a resolution. The customer will instantly get an email with directions back to the online store for more details. At that point, the customer may respond in a similar fashion by indicating what they agree to do to complete the order. This dialog between the company and customer is kept safely with the order in case it ever needs to be reviewed in the future.

SmartForm

  • Intelligent forms and surveys can be created using XML standards for forms. Using an authoring tool such as Microsoft Office InfoPath or Adobe Acrobat is a great starting point for creating forms that can be distributed across your organization.
  • This feature is compatible with inking on Tablet PCs, making it possible to fill in the firms with handwriting.

SmartQuote

  • Often times a request for a quote will be received by a manufacturer without all the data necessary to offer an accurate and timely quote. SellingPoint’s SmartQuote feature helps eliminate this problem by allowing the manufacturer to produce one or more interviews which guide the customer or sales person through a series of questions requiring full and complete answers. This ensures all of the data needed is entered before the manufacturer even receives the request.
  • These SmartQuote Interviews are enacted through SellingPoint Sales Edition and can be easily distributed via online store that sales people link to.

Export orders to external sources

  • The data contained in an order may be easily exported to another file format such as XML, Excel, or Access. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

Export orders to line of business application and live systems

  • Setup live connections to active data sources and send information out of SellingPoint as it changes. This includes ERP, MRP, accounting, supply chain management, and other line of business applications. Server based databases such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle, and Sun’s MySQL are all compatible with SellingPoint’s integration standards. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

Self service guidance for common tasks

  • Often times a little guidance is required even after training to point engineers in the right direction. Task based screencasts will be posted to the www.sellingpointsystem.com web site for use in such cases. Topics will include:
  • Pricing: A frequent question is how pricing is setup in a SellingPoint catalog that accurately reflects the method of pricing used by the manufacturer. This cast will detail the many options and offer recommendations.
  • Alterations to catalogs and source data: When changes need to be made, engineers often inquire about possible ramifications and such changes. Guidance will be offered along these lines in a series of screencasts.
  • Presentation: Pressured by marketing, engineers will eventually have to come to grips with how their catalog is presented to an online audience. How a catalog can be customized to reflect a consistent and attractive theme is discussed in this series of screencasts.

Data export to external sources

  • The data contained in an order may be easily exported to another file format such as XML, Excel, or Access. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

Data export to line of business application and live systems

  • Setup live connections to active data sources and send information out of SellingPoint as it changes. This includes ERP, MRP, accounting, supply chain management, and other line of business applications. Server based databases such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle, and Sun’s MySQL are all compatible with SellingPoint’s integration standards. SellingPoint supports a plug-in architecture that allows either Vesigo or other third party developers to create connectors that integrate directly into SellingPoint applications.

 

Continue to Part 3: Management