Keeping Up With Colect - Meet The Implementation Team

In this new edition of #KeepingUpWithColect, we sat down with the Implementation team, the stars behind the process of onboarding new customers. In this interview, they tell us more about their work and Colect’s Best Practice Template, the latest version of our Brand Portal.

  • Who: Michael van Kallen, Mateusz Zalewski & David Adriaanse
  • Title: Implementation Manager and Implementation Specialists at Colect
  • Since: 2016, 2021 & 2022

Let’s start with the basics, can you tell us what’s the most essential part of your job?

Michael: “I would say it is giving the customer the best product knowledge about the Colect tools, by transferring what I know and explaining our product to its fullest. The process starts with understanding the customer’s data structure, their ERP system and how it’s organized, and then figuring out how to transfer that data into the Colect System.”

Mateusz: “We achieve this by having weekly alignment meetings with the customers where we can understand what they really want to get out of our product, and how it’s useful to them. During the whole process, we are in constant communication with the customer, the ERP system, and sometimes a middleware system, which is the one that transfers the customer’s ERP data into the Colect tools.”

What are the steps of the onboarding process with new customers?

David: “The onboarding process consists of different steps, depending if it’s for the Sales App or the Brand Portal. For both we start with:

  1. Kick-off: This is the moment where we find out the customer’s needs and how they want their data to be set up, the configuration of this data, and the format they are going to supply it in: XML, or web services. Depending on whether they purchased the Sales App, the Brand Portal, or both, we determine what data goes to which tool.
  2. Data and Configuration: We receive all of the customer data such as invoices, historical orders, visual content, collections, images and videos. Additional modules are also set up at this stage if required.

In case we’re onboarding for the Best Practice Template, the latest version of our Brand Portal, we proceed with the following steps to configure the portal to the customer’s needs:

  1. Design and UX: Here is where, together with our design team, we customize the brand portal to the brand’s visuals. Ensuring that the look and feel, the story and the content reflect the brand’s personality.
  2. Web Development: Our front-end team builds the brand portal according to what was defined in the previous steps, the brand’s image and required functionalities.
  3. Testing of the Brand Portal: First we do an internal test and then we do one with the customer in terms of functionality, imagery, order checking, etc. The Brand Portal is finished after that!

Finally, with both products, we proceed with the last steps of the process:

  1. Training: The final stage is to give a back-end training for admins who will work with the portal daily, so they can manage the backend and configure collections. There’s also a sales training where our sales team trains the brand’s sales agents in the usage of the tools - Brand Portal and/or Sales App-, and how to get the most out of them.
  2. GO LIVE: The customer is all set to start using the Colect tools and can announce the launch to their clients.
  3. Evaluation and After Care: After 6 months we hold a review call to see how the customer is doing with the product and if there are any questions.”

You talked about the Best Practice Template, can you explain what it is?

Michael: “The goal of the Best Practice Template was to create a brand portal that’s visually configurable to the brand’s identity so customers can have their B2C feeling and storytelling but still enjoy the core of B2B operational features, quick re-ordering, and overview of stock levels of particular collections, especially highlighting the self-service for brand’s retailers.”

How does it benefit our customers in comparison to what we had before?

Michael: “The Best Practice Template is a lot more focused on the self-service functionality. Retailers can find credit notes, invoices, history of orders, and a track and trace section which makes the pre-order and re-order of stock collections easier for our customers’ retailers and clients.”

David: “The Best Practice Template also drives hybrid selling since it’s a way for sales teams to continue selling without having to be present, it can all be done online by the retailers themselves, self-guided and self-explanatory.”

Mateusz: “Additionally, during corona, it was hard for sales reps to meet their customers face to face so we created the order proposal method. This way they could send order proposals from the Sales App to the Brand Portal, and have their clients review and edit orders directly on the web.”

Finally, do you see a positive impact on our customers when onboarding them on the Best Practice Template?

Michael: “Definitely! Customers are delighted with the product. A lot of these customers used to have their own brand portals but maintaining them was a lot of work, especially when adding the ERP data to their site manually. But the good thing with Colect is that the process is easier and requires less effort since our integration with the ERP system allows the customers to apply changes in the backend and see them directly reflected in their brand portal. Plus, the data is reflected in real-time.

For example, when a retailer goes into a brand’s portal to re-stock a certain product, the stock availability they see is the real one, and if it’s modified in the backend, it will also be modified on the site, allowing the process to be more error-free.”

Mateusz: “It’s as easy as turning a button on and off, because the Colect backend has been developed to provide all the different functionalities that customers expect to have in their e-commerce webshop environment.

We were able to nail this because of all the years of experience working with so many different brands. We know that what one brand needs might tackle another brand’s necessities, so we basically know what’s in their general best interest. We save time and money for them because if the brands were doing this process on their own, it would be more difficult to really know what is necessary, plus they would also need to have developers in-house, etc. We are the easy solution.”

David: “Configurability is another point of difference that our customers love. During the onboarding process, we help them configure and bring to life their brand story visually, so it can be shown to their retailers like it’s shown in their B2C shop, without losing the B2B usability. We make sure retailers have easy access to the products and a less complicated ordering process. We merged the best of both worlds: storytelling and easy selling. The best practice template is also very useful because brands of all sizes can benefit from it, it’s scalable and easy to use for everyone, you just need to have an ERP system.”

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