What are some current problems in the purchase order process?
Matt Kuo: Through customer research, we uncovered a lack of control and visibility into the PO process. Since systems involved in the process are not connected, it’s cumbersome to track, collaborate and analyze purchase orders. This makes it challenging to introduce process improvements or automation. A recent AQ survey indicated that 75% of purchase orders are sent via email or fax. These are communication methods that lead to extreme inefficiencies and necessitate that humans get involved. The current process requires repeated data entry and manual follow-up processes; AQ wants to change that.
Has the pandemic accelerated the need for more digital systems?
MK: The entire industry is under immense pressure to do more with less and find new ways to streamline current processes. The only way to effectively accomplish this is to transition to more digital systems and automation. Manufacturers and dealers have embraced this mindset with an increased focus on e-commerce websites to drive product discovery and buying journeys. This shift to online transactions has also accelerated the adoption of our AQ Pay product, which streamlines the customer experience for foodservice operators right from an AQ quote.
What statistics have you seen to back that up?
MK: Our products that enable a move toward digital systems have seen significantly increased usage. In 2020, we launched AQ Products API, allowing access to AQ’s product data to power e-commerce sites and ERP systems with accurate, up-to-date product data. Many customers leverage the API to reduce time involved in managing e-commerce product data in-house. We also launched AQ Pay, enabling a fully integrated digital payments experience from AQ CPQ. Since launch, we have seen an average 30% month-over-month increase in processing volume. Utilizing AQ Pay and its Custom Payment Terms feature has enabled a fully digital quote-to-cash flow for our customers.
How does AutoQuotes’ AQ Pay help customers solve these problems?
MK: With Quote Acceptance, instead of emailing a PDF, a customer receives a weblink to view the quote. Customers can track the status of a quote, see if changes are requested and collect payment, all from a seamless digital flow. With new features like Custom Payment Terms, our customers can add payment schedules to quotes and then collect payment as milestones are met. These capabilities are integrated into AQ CPQ, making it a straightforward process for AQ customers to adopt these new technologies without major integration efforts or system changes.
What other channels does AutoQuotes serve besides the traditional manufacturer and dealer segments?
MK: AQ’s focus is to support a more streamlined workflow and quoting process for rep firms and manufacturers’ reps. AQ also launched Insight for Reps, giving reps an easier way to track and measure AQ quoting activity through an interactive dashboard. Insight also allows reps to share their data with manufacturers, reducing manual reporting processes. Reps are key players in the overall ordering process, so creating solutions that enable digital collaboration between all segments is a priority for us.