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Epicor Extends Cloud-First Focus to Empower Distributors to Unleash Growth

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Epicor Extends Cloud-First Focus to Empower Distributors to Unleash Growth

Newest versions of Epicor Prophet 21 and Epicor Eclipse provide enhanced tools designed to improve user experience while delivering new refinements to improve distributors’ business effectiveness

Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, today announced the latest versions of its industry leading distribution software solutions, Epicor® Prophet 21® and Epicor® Eclipse®. Now available, the next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are designed to fit the needs of today’s digital distributors—enabling them to take full advantage of modern, cloud-ready technologies to help them drive sales growth and increase margins.

Get current, stay current, and keep growing
With markets changing rapidly, the latest releases of Epicor Prophet 21 and Epicor Eclipse helps customers succeed by providing timely solutions to new business challenges. Keeping current with software typically involves significant time, effort, risk, and cost; however, Epicor has greatly reduced these factors by releasing the right tools and programs that make it easy to upgrade.

Cloud ready when you are with Prophet 21
The new release of Prophet 21 is a comprehensive cloud application that leverages industry-leading vertical functionality from Epicor, making it easier to deploy, use and extend while providing a completely seamless migration path to the cloud for current customers. Key improvements include Carton Packing, which especially benefits distributors doing business with and through Amazon as well as with big-box retailers, updates to Refunds and Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMAs), and added capabilities for distributors who provide value-added services in the form of manufacturing. Distributors desiring the ability to extend their systems can leverage Prophet 21’s API V2, featuring a greater depth and breadth of Interactive and Data Services API capabilities. Finally, for distributors looking to embrace the cloud, the Prophet 21 Web Application adds a number of new usability and mobility capabilities, as well as access to the system’s Service and Maintenance module.

Prophet 21 has also launched a new data analysis module, XL Connect 7. Built to function within Microsoft® Excel, XL Connect 7 provides business users greater flexibility to create more than financial reports, and provides new, real-time, automatic connectivity to all Prophet 21 data. Notable functions of XL Connect 7 also include the ability to create ad-hoc reports, functions and analysis, drill-down capabilities to provide details behind the numbers, and immediate access to the data anytime, anywhere with fully interactive reports, even when users are offline.

“The largest benefit of updating to the newest version of Prophet 21 is the ability to differentiate ourselves from our competition,” said Adam Linger, technical administrator, Stellar Industrial Supply. “Staying up to date gives us the latest tools and technology to stay on the leading edge. Keeping on the latest version helps us to continually streamline our processes and find new ways to work smarter and more efficiently. We feel confident that these efforts are producing greater efficiencies, tools, and technologies that will benefit Stellar for years to come.”

Faster decision-making with Epicor Eclipse
Epicor Eclipse users will be pleased to hear about significant improvements to the Product Data Warehouse module and Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC), in addition to the availability of Epicor Data Analytics (EDA). In the new release, the new Enhanced Product Data Warehouse has Solar screens providing easier user experiences. Additionally, process speed has been dramatically improved. Epicor Commerce Connect is fully integrated into Eclipse and provides a cloud-based B2B solution for distributors to help attract and retain customers. Online users of ECC will also be able to select an Eclipse Order Status and specify a Require-By Date as well as make payments on outstanding AR Payments.

Lastly, Epicor Data Analytics is now also available for Epicor Eclipse customers. This tool helps companies grow by providing insight into reducing costs, identifying new opportunities, and supporting specific programs—thereby speeding up decision-making.

“Distributors are looking for ways to digitally transform their business,” said Mark Jensen, director of product management, Epicor. “Distributors unwilling or unable to navigate this transformation are already seeing a financial impact; whether it is a slip in growth, a reduction in margins, fewer customers, or losing employees. Epicor enables distributors to grow, thrive and compete in a disruptive industry with these new versions of Prophet 21 and Eclipse. There is no better time than now to embrace digital transformation with Epicor.”

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Beyond the bottom line: why brands must show they care to connect with customers

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Beyond the bottom line: why brands must show they care to connect with customers 1

By Vadim Grigoryan, Partner, Lunu

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed an ever-growing activism among consumers, with public opinion demanding that their concerns be heard and addressed. No industry has experienced this more than the retail sector, with brands regularly slammed by NGS or consumer-led initiatives for violating legal requirements or moral principles. Moving one step further in the experience economy, brands are not only required to provide a first-rate customer experience, but also a conscience. The product must be good quality, as should the experience of purchasing it. But now on top of that, consumers should feel positive about where they’re spending their money. This is particularly true in the crypto community, with cryptocurrencies regularly pointed out as too speculative as a product, or to energy-intensive. Is this really a surprise coming from a generation whose top concerns are collective ones such as the environment and global warming? The answer is a straight no! Brands have to face this new reality and embrace it accordingly.

This next step in the experience economy, that can be called conscious consumerism, provides an opportunity for brands to reinvent themselves and bring to the top of their agenda something that has so long been kept at the bottom, or on the side. Brands need to stand for something bigger than themselves. If they fail to do so, they will also fail to make an impact in the consumer’s mind, ultimately disappearing as a brand altogether.

  1. From the experience to the conscious consumerism. Today’s economy is as much about giving people the opportunity to feel good while purchasing the product or service, as it is about the feeling after the purchase. Environmental, social, and moral concerns are increasingly at the top of consumers’ minds and on the front pages. Brands need to realise this and adapt, but also accept this as an opportunity rather than a constraint. Profitability isn’t the number one priority anymore and they now have the chance to fully develop their CSR programmes without facing many of the internal/external constraints they would traditionally have faced.
  2. Having a meaning actually means something. Modern brands have to stand for something and if they do, they will also stand out in the consumer’s mind. Your brand won’t just be a jewellery maker anymore – it will be one that aims to make diamonds cleanly and ethically by creating them in a lab instead of digging them out from thousands of meters below the ground. Standing for something will also give you a voice and help you break through the noise, reaching out to ever more consumers.
  3. Having a purpose provides a valid reason to exist. By this we mean existing in the customer’s mind, as well as in stores and shops – because the truth is, both are now linked. To truly connect with your customers, brands need to go beyond their bottom line. They also need to show that this bottom line serves a purpose and isn’t a finality. Don’t be scared to embrace a cause if you want to keep a place in consumers’ hearts and minds.
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The largest event in e-commerce history? ‘Tis the season

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The largest event in e-commerce history? ‘Tis the season 2

By James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships for EMEA, at PPRO

Sometimes, change happens slowly. Other times it chases you down like that boulder at the beginning of Indiana Jones. In 2020, change is fully in boulder mode. And the holiday season is when it either catches up with you or you leap triumphantly from the temple entrance, golden statue in hand.

The shopping season kicks off on 11 November, with the 11.11 Global Shopping Holiday (formerly Singles’ Day). According to analysts, Alibaba and its merchants are on track to rack up $45 billion worth of sales on Singles Day alone [1], up from $38 billion last year [2]. And if last year’s results are anything to go by, a large proportion of those sales will go to non-Chinese companies. Last year brands such as Bose, Estée Lauder, Gap, Levi’s, Nike, The North Face and Apple all made over 1 billion yuan ($143 million) on Singles’ Day [3].

Increasingly, US and European consumers are also participating in Singles’ Day. However, both markets shift into proper holiday mode with Black Friday on 27 November. And there is every indication that this, too, will be bigger in 2020 than ever before.

Adobe Marketing Insights predicts a 20% increase in e-commerce spend over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend [4]. Looking at the holiday season as a whole, Deloitte forecasts that seasonal e-commerce — online spending  is expected to grow by up to 35%, compared with just 14% last year [5].

But that doesn’t mean you can just relax and wait for the holiday season sales to rack up. As well as driving customers online, lockdown has also disrupted brand loyalties. During lockdown more than two-thirds of customers in some markets have tried a new product or service and of these, a quarter do not plan to return to their old habits once lockdown has ended [6].

Old shopping loyalties have been upended, and that means their holiday-season shopping is up for grabs.

For instance, 43% of over-65s are now shopping online compared to just 16% before lockdown [7]. For online merchants the grandparent present budget just became accessible. But to win your share of it, you have to provide a customer experience that this demographic will love.

Making the checkout page a priority 

The question then, is how to prepare your merchants’ or your own e-commerce site for the holiday shopping season. It’s only a few weeks until Black Friday, so there’s no time to lose. You need to find out where gaps are in your customer journey, and plug them, before those customers run away to someone else.

The customer experience at checkout is particularly crucial. One of the surest ways to lose customer trust at the checkout, is by not offering shoppers’ preferred payment methods. According to research by PPRO, up to 50% of customers have abandoned a transaction because the merchant did not offer their preferred payment method [8].

It’s a question of localisation. Except in this case, you’re not necessarily localising for customers in a particular geography. Instead, you might consider localising for consumers in a particular age group who are now shopping online for the first time. Or customers from a range of demographics who have never shopped online for a particular category.

No one size fits all when it comes to global payment preferences

If you want to succeed in global e-commerce, you must offer the preferred payment methods for every market and demographic you want to win over.

Worldwide, consumers use alternative or local payment methods in more than 70% of all consumer transactions [9]. These are the payment methods whole markets and demographics grew up with online and trust. Fail to offer them and you can have the best possible customer journey, but you’ll still lose basket after basket at the checkout.

With the acceleration of e-commerce and the influx of online competition, anyone who hasn’t optimised their payments offering will be desperately racing to catch up. Merchants need to think now about how they are going to maximise their revenue from what looks to be the biggest online holiday season ever. And payments is a crucial part of that conversation.

[FOOTNOTES]
1. https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/09/u-s-holiday-shopping-season-on-mobile-expected-to-be-largest-to-date-topping-1b-hours-on-android
2. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/11/alibaba-singles-day-2019-record-sales-on-biggest-shopping-day.html
3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sergeiklebnikov/2019/11/12/alibabas-1111-singles-day-heres-which-brands-profited-the-most/#25ea1a164863
4. https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2020/09/15/strong-ecommerce-strategy-key-black-friday-2020
5. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/09/16/online-holiday-sales-to-surge-25-35/

6. https://www.alixpartners.com/insights-impact/insights/covid-19-disrupts-brand-loyalties
7. https://www.essentialretail.com/news/elderly-consumers-drive-ecommerce
8. https://www.pymnts.com/news/payment-methods/2018/ppro-ecommerce-local-payment-options
9. Original PPRO research.

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Why insurance needs Tesla’s autopilot too

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Why insurance needs Tesla's autopilot too 3

By Christian Wiens, CEO of Getsafe

Digitization is the industrial revolution of the 21st century. What does this mean for a data-driven industry like insurance? The answer is simple: Turn everything on its head and reinvent yourself under high pressure- the future of insurance is digital.

“Hello Timo, nice to see you. I’ll be glad to help you.” Carla records claims 24 hours a day, seven days a week and takes less than two minutes to evaluate and process them. Carla works for a digital insurer and is a chatbot by profession. While she is answering Timo, she contacts the bank in the background, which pays Timo back his money – the same day. This is not a dream, but already reality.

In the digital age, intelligent machines are the new workers on the assembly line, and data is the new raw material. This applies to almost all industries and applies in particular to the insurance world as insurance is based on mathematical models and probability calculations – in short: on data. The more data on which the calculations are based, the easier it is to derive and price risk profiles. Data therefore changes the core of the product “insurance” in three essential areas; the offer phase, in the event of a claim and in the long-term customer relationship.

In the offer phase, we will experience long-term personalized product bundles that fit customer needs much better – away from standardized and inflexible policies. If the insurer can better assess the needs of the customer on the basis of his past history or behaviour, he is in a position to put together tailor-made insurance packages.

For example, it would be conceivable to automatically adjust the insurance cover as soon as the customer’s life changes, for example if the customer gets married, buys a car or a property or travels abroad.

Customer experience in the event of a claim will also change dramatically. Fraud is still the biggest problem in the system, with 2 percent of the customer base causing 40 percent of the system’s inefficiency. According to estimates by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), one insurance fraud is detected every minute – amounting to economic losses of £3bn every year. Of the estimated worth of total fraud cases a year, £2bn goes undetected.

But what if insurers are better able to assess customers on the basis of data and know which customers they can trust – and which not? Credible customers could then benefit from immediate payment of the loss incurred, while the few “black sheep” would not even be accepted as customers or would be checked more closely in the event of a claim being reported.

The computer does not act uncontrolled, but within certain parameters defined by humans. This is comparable to processes in the manufacturing industry: Here, too, people define the exact parameters that are to be checked – controls are implemented by machines that are significantly less prone to errors. The situation is similar when it comes to insurance fraud: people make value judgements and specify which indicators can point to a case of fraud. They retain sovereignty over the entire process. The smart algorithm, on the other hand, is only the tool for evaluating and linking the many individual data points. Smart algorithms will reduce  employees’ workload, but will not replace them.

Finally, digitization will also change the long-term relationship between insurer and insured. Tomorrow’s insurance will not only settle claims, it could even prevent them arising. A better database will not only make it possible to calculate the probability and amount of loss more precisely, it will also make it easier to calculate the risk of loss. Digital systems and sensors can also help prevent possible claims. Telematic tariffs in motor vehicle insurance are already moving in this direction by promoting a prudent driving style.

Sensors on washing machines and industrial plants or intelligent smoke detectors are one thing – monitoring people in the health sector is another. Some health insurers reward sport activities, for example, if the customer can prove this with smart fitness watches. It remains to be seen to what extent customers are willing to exchange this personal data for premium refunds. In the long term, the legislator will also be asked to take action to ensure that the solidarity principle is not undermined.

However, the danger of increasing surveillance is countered by a clear increase in customer service, individualised services and flexibility on the customer side: Digital insurers rely on  customer’s self-determination and a positive insurance experience in an industry that sometimes appears to be immobile and non-transparent.

Digitalisation has reached the insurance industry, but has not yet shaken its foundations. That will change: Tomorrow’s insurance will have little in common with today’s structures and processes. The autopilot at Tesla will also come for insurance. Not all companies will be able to master this switch to become digital insurers.

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