December 2016 Newsletter
Happy Holidays to all of our Members

Letter from the President 
Chris Bohn

The Eclipse Support executives had a meeting in India the week before Thanksgiving to discuss progress and actions at the India Technology Center (ITC).  After that meeting, the User's Group board had a meeting with the Support team to get an update so I thought I would pass along the major items we covered.

1)      Epicare

a.  Epicare continues to evolve as more customers and platforms are going live.  As you probably already know, Eclipse was the first so we experienced the most "bugs" in the system.  After you log in, you can always find what's new by looking on the NEWS & ALERTS section of the Epicare Home page. Epicor is about to launch the 5th wave and the 7th and final wave of platforms to go live is scheduled for March 2017. 

b.  One of the biggest enhancements just recently released is the ability to take a survey on ANY case you are in the process of closing.  Historically, you received a survey on a randomly selected case.  That process will continue, however, if you wish to provide constructive feedback on ANY ticket that you are closing, you now have a button to "Take Survey" on the closed Case page.   If you are the author of the ticket, you also have the ability to take a survey up to 14 days after you close the case.

c.  Your historical case log has been extended to 5 years, from the initial 2 years.

d.  63% of cases are placed via the support portal.  While phone support is still accepted, the trend to logging your own tickets is definitely increasing.

 

2)      India Technology Center (ITC)
a.    Support staff in India have continued on a very aggressive education path. 

b.  By head count, the Eclipse Support staff has increased 50% from pre-ITC levels.  There are now 22 staff members on board and 2 in training.

c.  Eclipse ITC support is now fielding over 60% of Eclipse cases and closing over 57% of all Eclipse cases.

d.  Side note, there was some confusion by some members about the ITC staff being outsourced.  This is not true as the ITC Eclipse Support staff are 100% Epicor employees.

 

3)      Support Request Backlog
a.    October and November have seen a GREATER than 100% closure rate.  August and September were averaging about 80% closure.  That means that the support case backlog was increasing in Aug/Sep and decreasing in Oct/Nov.   This is due to the increased expertise of the ITC as they continue to receive Eclipse education and solve real problems.  Calls closed within 24 hours is also trending upward.

b.  Support's current priorities and efforts are on reducing the number of open cases. 

 
While certainly not perfect, overall, the Support trend appears to be favorable since summer and we can expect that trend of improvement to continue.  General feedback from the user community would affirm that as well.  While we can still expect some individual calls to go awry, let us know if you are not seeing an improved ITC.    
 
One other point of interest came from our Board of Directors Face-to-Face meeting at the end of October.  Eclipse Development has new marching orders to remove a significant portion of the backlog of development requests.  Many support requests are also bogged down in development and are not true support request that would be handled by support staff as opposed to a programmer.  As a result of this direction, much of the Roadmap items for Enhancements to Eclipse are on temporary hold in order to allow the coders to focus on the backlog.  At this point we are not expecting the release of Eclipse 9.03 by the time Insights 2017 rolls around as we normally would have expected.  Your Board of Directors believes this to be a GOOD thing!  There is a new man in charge of the programmers, a 19-year Eclipse veteran named Steve Schmitt.  Steve presented to the board and did a remarkable job presenting the programmers perspective and we came away with confidence that they were focusing on the right objective for the moment.
 
As always, your User's Group will keep vigilant on the goings on within Eclipse and the impact that has on our collective futures!
 
All the best,
 
Chris
Christopher Bohn - Eclipse User's Group President.
In This Issue
December Training Calendar
 
Click on the link above and it will take you to the December Calendar on our website. You can click on each class to see the detail. Make sure to click the back button in your browser to get back to this newsletter.




Build a Clear Path to Your Products  Online with Good Taxonomy

It may sound like a highly scientific term, but taxonomy is actually a pretty simple concept when it comes to e-commerce. It involves creating a logical classification of products and their characteristics so customers can easily shop for and find them in your online store. A good taxonomy leads people to your products in as few clicks as possible.

The best way to categorize your products is with a funnel approach where you start from the top down by developing high-level categories or divisions first, then breaking those categories down into more specific categories and, finally, creating the product characteristics or attributes for those categories.

The first categories you should create for your product catalog are the primary divisions of products that you offer. These level-one categories are general product groupings and should be given names that your customers would use, not necessarily ones your internal organization uses. These high-level category names act as critical search words that support SEO to drive people to your site and keep them there. Level-two categories are a bit more focused in nature, and are used to provide a clear path to the final categories (level-three and level-four) which should get customers to the actual products they're searching for on your site.

Once you've locked in your category names, the next step in product taxonomy is to develop names for the characteristics of your products, the attributes. Attributes describe critical product aspects, such as type, color, application, and dimensions - all the important information a buyer needs to make a purchasing decision. Attribute responses can either be free-form (where anything can be typed into the field as a response) or structured (a list of standardized values to choose from). While free-form attribute responses offer more flexibility for multiple products in a category, structured responses provide more consistent data for product understanding and comparison.

Make your online store easy to shop by structuring your site with well-thought-out categories and attributes that provide buyers easy-to-navigate paths to your products. If you're looking to improve your current taxonomy, or need help creating a new taxonomy, contact the product experts at Unilog Content Solutions. Unilog specializes in building custom taxonomies that lay the foundation for solid content creation and item findability, and are relevant to both your company and your customers.

This article is an abridged version of a blog published by Unilog. To read their more extensive piece on product taxonomy, click here


Happy Holidays!
by Alison Levy, Marketing Committee Chair

The holiday season is fast approaching and as 2016 comes to an end, the UFO begins its planning for 2017. 
 
We've already started planning for Encounter 2017!  This year the conference will be held on September 10 - 12, 2017 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Hyatt Regency.  We have some great classes planned for the 2017 conference as well as some fun networking opportunities.  We look forward to seeing you in Albuquerque!
 
Don't forget about Epicor Insights earlier in the year.  This year the conference is back in Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland, May 22-25.  The UFO will again have a booth at the conference, make sure to stop by say "Hi" and sign up for the Gift Card Drawings.
 
The first quarter of our 2017 online training schedule has been posted on the website .  These classes are a great way to expose a new user to Eclipse or have a current user learn some new tricks.  Don't forget, these classes are FREE with your 2017 paid membership.  Membership renewals will be sent out soon, so be on the lookout!  We also offer two Purchasing and Inventory onsite classes throughout the year which are hosted at a UFO member company.    Although there is a small fee to attend, they are still a great value.  Check the UFO website for dates and locations.
 
While you're on the website don't forget to take a peek at the Bulletin Boards and the Ideas Site.  The Bulletin Boards are a great resource if you need to solve a particular problem or are just looking for other user's experiences.  The Bulletin Boards have answered a number of questions I had just by reading through others posts.  The Ideas Site offers a venue to post your ideas for changes to Eclipse.  Post an idea, get enough votes and your idea might make it into a new release.
 
We hope you enjoy reading our monthly Newsletter.  We are always looking for new material to add and encourage our members to submit articles for publication.  As a "Thank You" for submitting articles which are published, we award the article writer $50.  If you are interested in writing an article, please contact Alison Levy  for more information.
 
Just a reminder, don't forget to vote for the 2017 Slate of Directors and Officers.  An email was sent on 12/1/2016 with a subject of "Vote Directors & Officers Eclipse Users Group/UFO".  Please make sure to cast your ballot by the December 15, 2017 close date. 
 
The UFO Board of Directors would like thank all UFO members for another successful year.  Our members are the heart and soul of the group and we truly appreciate your participation. If you would like to join a committee or even just make a suggestion, please contact Mary Barlow  or Suzanne Saltmarsh . They can direct your inquiry to the correct party.
 
Again, a big Thank You to all UFO members; we are looking forward to another successful year in 2017! 
 
Happy Holidays!


SMP - Next generation hosted CRM for distributors

Is Your Company Ready for CRM?
 
According to recent research [1], the top five sales effectiveness initiatives companies are implementing are:
  •   Analyzing customer buy cycles
  •   Improving sales rep access to information
  •   Implementing new CRM tools
  •   Aligning sales and marketing
  •   Revising sales processes
 
What one thing do all these initiatives have in common? They are all plans to improve sales success through a combination of CRM, sales management solutions and business intelligence. This is exactly what SMP does.  The reason is simple - studies on the benefits of CRM systems for distributors demonstrate fast ROI, greater top-line growth, increased close rates and higher customer loyalty.
 
Perhaps you're wondering if the time is right to implement new sales management tools. An integrated CRM system is no longer a nice-to-have for your sales teams, but is now a must-have component for staying competitive.
 
When considering CRM options, there are three important characteristics of a technology partner that should be non-negotiable:
 
1. Distribution Expertise. Distribution is a unique business with unique issues. SMP focuses solely on the needs of distribution. Your issues will always be front and center in our development efforts.
 
2. ERP Integration. Combining your sales history with your rich ERP data can unlock new insights, driving growth even higher. SMP integrates seamlessly with Eclipse, and has been an Alliance partner for over 15 years.
 
3. Cloud-based Hosted Offering. The cloud opens access to CRM applications for organizations that would not otherwise use CRM tools.  SMP developed hosted applications before the "cloud" was made popular.  SMP is NOT an IT project. Our team makes it simple for your organization to implement and get immediate results.
 
SMP believes distributors need a sales management system that:
  • Leverages proven sales and marketing techniques from best-in-class distribution companies.
  • Integrates easily with Eclipse.
  • Provides powerful tools that help distribution sales leaders to categorize sales.
  • Combines real-world distribution experience with advanced cloud-based      technology.
  • Provides comprehensive solutions to sales, marketing and customer support. 
SMP is not the typical CRM system that forces your team to adapt to our processes. We provide a system that matches distribution best practices from your first day of installation. We understand how you run your business from identifying and reaching potential customers all the way to post-sales follow-up and customer marketing.
 
Contact SMP today to see for yourself why SMP is the CRM of choice for distributors.
Chris Tucker (949) 274-8478 christucker@gosmp.com


[1] 2016 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study
 
Users Helping Users
Postings from the UFO Bulletin Boards 

 
Do you have any issues with doing business on an International level within Eclipse? 
Check out our new bulletin board and IDEAS site community for International Challenges. 
There are many challenges that arise when you are importing or exporting products.  This forum was designed to share how members have found ways to deal with ship to addresses, currency differences, as well as the lead times of inbound shipments and associated fees.  




Got a better IDEA? Put it on the IDEAS site so it can be voted on and shared with Eclipse Product Development










Where is my order and when will it be delivered?

You hear this question every day, at every branch. That's when the thrash begins: the sales rep calls the warehouse manager and the warehouse manager calls the driver, all in the effort to find out where their delivery truck is and when the order will be delivered to the customer.
With Innovo's Signature Touch iOS app for Eclipse, use live proof of delivery monitoring, GPS tracking, and driver directions to optimize your delivery logistics. No more phone calls - just an easy-to-view dashboard showing where your delivery trucks are and when orders will be delivered. 

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  • Instant access to estimated and actual delivery times based on real-time GPS mapping information
  • Live route directions provide the most efficient route
  • Real-time tracking of driver location, MPH, and upcoming deliveries
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Capture signatures anywhere with Signature Touch - your counter, will call, and delivery routes. Our efficient, paperless solution improves productivity and customer service by eliminating the need to scan and store paper copies. With instant access in Eclipse to customer signatures and photos for proof of delivery you'll reduce administration costs and significantly improve delivery and collection accuracy.
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  • Customers verify order totals and details (quantities, description, pricing) before signing
  • Sign once and attach signature to multiple orders
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  • Signatures and photos attached to the Eclipse invoice
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