PDF Specializes in the Contract, Residential Fabric Industry Where Big Brand Software Can’t Compete
May 25, 2018
PRINCETON, New Jersey —PDF Systems has developed software specifically for companies in the fabric business according to Steve Hagen, one of the Principals. “It’s easier to respond with things that won’t change. Designers, decorators and architects will continue to demand creativity and imagination in the product. Companies that can provide these products and back up sales with smooth, efficient and mistake-free shipping and customer service will continue to flourish. We are seeing an increasing demand for ‘green’ products.
Steve Hagan“As the older generation of designers is replaced by millennials, home furnishing companies need to invest in their website and mobile applications. This new breed of designer is tech-savvy and will want to place and edit reserves, pay for orders, approve cuttings, check order status and request memo samples online and outside of working hours. Home furnishing companies that cannot meet these demands will be at a disadvantage,” Hagen maintains. “Road reps will want mobile apps that provide the ability to: add new customer accounts, check sales and sample history for existing accounts. Road reps want to place sample requests, check prices and stock status, place books and record the location. “One specific area where we do see changes coming is in sampling. Companies that can keep memo samples in stock, quickly deliver samples on demand, provide books to key locations and keep sampling costs to a minimum have a distinct competitive advantage. New methods need to be developed to correlate sampling costs to sales specifically generated from that sampling. “There are three major changes in the software being developed for the Fabrics Industry. “We see movement away from software systems that require major investment for in-house servers, network and IT staff, because owners and management want access to their data while traveling, using standard browsers and the Internet.” “Road reps require smartphone/tablet functionality to drop books, request samples, create new customer accounts and obtain order status. “PDF’s Web-Distribution and Order-Track software are completely cloud-based and are able to run using standard browsers on PC’s, Mac’s, tablets and smartphones. It’s impressive to see an actual sales order entered on a smartphone!” In terms of new products at PDF, Hagen points to creating standard Accounts Payable and General Ledger modules. “We’ve added new Wi-Fi functionality to our Warehouse Management module.” “We are also completing an online help function and are in the process of creating an industry-specific phone app for road reps. “Companies should consider a number of costs involved with implementing an ERP/CRM system; the main four are defining your company’s requirements; because big brand software is typically not specific to our industry, this task can easily take over 1,000 hours of staff time. A significant number of these hours are spent educating the integrator/software company about the industry. Since PDF’s Software is specific to the industry and our staff understands the typical requirements, we take a small fraction of those hours to accomplish the task. “Training on BBS requires an extensive amount of staff time; because PDF’s software is industry-specific, the intuitive layout of menus and programs minimizes operator training. This is key when you experience staff turnover as new employees can be productive very quickly. “BBS typically runs on costly in-house server networks. In addition to the hardware costs, these servers will require significant support staff and/or third-party support contracts. “PDF’s software is specifically designed to run in the cloud, eliminating these costs. BBS implementations will cost between $250,000 and $1,000,000. Add $4,000 to $8,000 for monthly support,” Hagen figures. “PDF’s software is very scalable. For a basic 2-user system the cost is as low as $400 per month. A 40-user system that includes many of our optional modules will cost approximately $3,500 per month. These fees include support.” PDF says it has nearly 40 years in the industry working with over 60 companies. During this time Hagen has seen the impact that a great customer service team can have on sales. “Providing accurate stock status and delivery information, following up on CFA (cutting for approval) and reserve orders, efficiently shipping and invoicing all translate into return sales. Our system allows owners to design and sell without having to worry about the customer service function.” Note: CFA is short for Cutting For Approval. For high-end residential textile companies like Donghia, Brunswick & Fils and Schumacher), designers ask for a CFA to compare to the Memo Sample before ordering the fabric. “Most other providers force the end-user into conforming to their system. Our systems have been specifically designed for this industry. Additionally, we understand that every account is unique and that owners will want some amount of customization. We expect this and are happy to provide custom programs. “Lastly, we handle all issues/problems directly. Nothing can be more frustrating that having to go through layers of bureaucracy to get questions answered and issues resolved. Our programmers handle all issues, directly leading to quick resolutions and better understanding of the system for the operators. “We have seen two major mistakes in selecting and retaining software systems. First, we’ve seen many owners think that bringing in large, name-brand systems will make them equally large and name-brand. Typically, these systems are not specifically designed to this industry. This means the user is forced to change how they operate in order to ‘fit’ into the application software. The package is very expensive to purchase and maintain and frequently requires a large expense in IT infrastructure. Overhead costs skyrocket and become very difficult to cover. “Second, the IT and Finance departments frequently have an inordinate amount of control over the decision-making process. The Customer Service staff is involved with all facets of operations and know what is efficient and what isn’t. As such, they are usually under-utilized in the decision-making process.”