Ceramo is one of the leading importers and distributors of lawn and garden containers, pottery, and accessories in the United States. Sourcing products from around the globe, the company has been in operation for over 70 years and works with independent garden centers and chains across the country.

At a trade show, Alec Junge, Ceramo’s Director of Product & Marketing, noticed that competitors were using tablets to write and place orders. Recognizing that this was the wave of the future, he went online looking for a similar solution. An iPad sales app has since changed the way the company makes sales at both trade shows and in the field, as well as how orders are processed.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

Ceramo’s impetus for seeking out order writing software was a desire to maintain a competitive edge. Three years ago, Junge began seeing a noticeable shift towards order writing technology at trade shows like Cultivate! in Columbus, Ohio and the Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago.

“My role as Director of Product & Marketing is to look for ways to make the customer’s eyes open up. I didn’t want to be in a situation where our competitors were offering a better way of looking at products on iPads, and we were still walking in with a paper catalog,” says Junge.

In the search and vetting process, Ceramo was primarily looking for an off-the-shelf SaaS solution. “I didn’t want to craft a custom solution. I liked the simplicity of the subscription model, and the ease with which you could add users,” says Junge.

Ceramo & the Value of an iPad Sales App

Since implementing order writing software less than a year ago, Ceramo has already seen a huge impact on their business. Here are some of the biggest benefits the company has seen.

1. An Image-Rich, Easily Searchable Digital Catalog

For Ceramo, one of the main advantages of order writing software is the digital product catalog. Sales reps are now able to carry all of their products (including images, descriptions, etc.) on their iPads.

“Our business is very design-driven. We wanted a way to show beautiful, high-resolution photographs of our products, and we couldn’t really do that with a paper catalog. I love scrolling through all of the images. Customers see the digital catalog, and it boggles the mind to get a sense of the scope of what we’re offering,” says Junge.

The catalog is also easily searchable. With 2000 items in the catalog, reps can search by typing in a SKU, product name, or simply by navigating through the product categories. According to Junge, “It’s a lot faster than flipping through a 128-page catalog.”

2. A Consistent Order Submission Process From Independent Sales Reps

While Ceramo does have an internal sales team operating on the phone and at trade shows, the company relies heavily upon independent sales representatives in the field. These reps have between 5-8 store visits per day, making weekly or bi-monthly rounds in their respective territories. According to Junge, most of these reps carry 7 or 8 other lines in addition to Ceramo’s products.

Despite the fact that many wholesale distributors are hesitant to invest in order writing technology for these external salespeople, Ceramo saw the advantages early on. One of the biggest benefits of having all of their independent sales reps on one digital order writing platform is that every order from the field comes to the back office in one standard format.

In the past, certain reps would send emails while others scanned paper order forms. “We were finding ourselves missing orders,” says Junge. “Reps would take the order and forget to fax it in, or forget to attach the order in an email. This technology has eliminated all of that. Orders now come in through a single channel, and the back office team can process them more quickly.”

3. Increased Sales Productivity Among Internal Reps

Not only are their field reps using order writing software, sales reps taking orders over the phone in the back office are also using the technology. The intuitive user interface has made entering orders into the system much easier than the buggy data entry interface the company used to employ, and has resulted in significantly increased productivity. “It’s so much faster than the way they used to have to key in orders. They’re handling 20-30% more orders a day now,” Junge reports.

4. Fast, Detailed Order Confirmations

The ability to immediately communicate back to the customer what they ordered has also been a boon to the business.

In the past, there was a 4-step process to send out an order confirmation: The purchase order would come in via email and then have to be printed and manually entered into QuickBooks. Only then could the order confirmation get issued.

Today, each order confirmation is emailed out right after the order is written, and they all include images that allow the customer to visually refer back to what they’ve purchased. The order is also synced with the company’s QuickBooks system at the same time.

5. Real-Time Reporting:

As Director of Product & Marketing, Junge has also found the order management platform’s sales reporting feature useful. “It’s great to see orders coming through right when they’re written. We don’t have to wait until someone in the office has time to key in orders. Seeing everything happen in real time is really helpful.”