As the pandemic hit, shops closed, and industries ground to a halt, French manufacturer KparK doubled down on product visualization, turning their physical showrooms into virtual experiences.
KparK is now exiting the pandemic in a prime position to capture even more market share as lockdowns begin to ease across Europe.
To get the inside story on how KparK combined Salesforce and Epicor CPQ (formally KBMax) to future-proof their sales channels and processes, we talked to Corrado Songini, VP of EMEA Sales, and Epicor CPQ co-founder, who worked closely with KparK on this project.
Tell us about KparK and Epicor CPQ’s role in their digital transformation.
KparK sells, manufactures, and installs a massive catalog of high-quality tailor-made windows, shutters, and doors. They’ve been in the business for 30 years, have over 1,000 employees, and operate approximately 120 showrooms throughout France.
To meet growing demand, they wanted to streamline and simplify their configuration, pricing, and quoting processes to shorten sales cycles and reduce costs. They also wanted to transcend the competition by beating everyone in their industry at customer experience.
KparK recognized that CPQ with product visualization technology would let them achieve these goals, enabling salespeople and end-customers to configure products visually and “see” finished products before they were made.
By capturing everything up-front, KparK could cut out the endless back-and-forth between the customer, sales, and engineering, while providing a compelling, immersive experience for buyers.
Why did KparK decide to partner with Salesforce and Epicor CPQ?
KparK wanted to use Salesforce CRM because it’s the best CRM on the market. But Salesforce CPQ doesn’t have the functionality necessary to provide the complex configuration, 3D visualization, and technical output generation that KparK needed from their CPQ solution.
So Salesforce recommended Epicor CPQ, and the project became a joint Salesforce-Epicor CPQ initiative. Together, we were able to meet all of KparK’s needs and more. The two solutions – Epicor CPQ and Salesforce combined – are a great fit for the manufacturing industry. Epicor CPQ configures the product; Salesforce configures the deal.
What did KparK’s sales process look like before Epicor CPQ got involved?
It’s a process that I think a lot of manufacturers will be familiar with. And a process they will probably want to improve!
It starts with a customer walking into a showroom. They take a look at a few of the physical products on display and are shown generic pictures of all the products that won’t fit in the building.
The salesperson talks them through the various models and options. They find out where the customer lives (different regions have different building codes and regulations), how much they are prepared to spend, and how they want their products to look (colors, materials, hardware, etc.)
Once the salesperson has assessed the customer’s requirements, they fill out a form that sets out the product configuration and then sends it off to KparK’s head office.
At the head office, another person converts the form into a bill of materials and sends it on to the manufacturing facility, where the window is finally assembled.
What’s wrong with this manual configure, price, quote process?
To start with, it’s really slow. And the slower the sales cycle, the more likely the customer is to drop off along the way or find a more responsive supplier for their next purchase.
It’s heavily reliant on the salesperson. Unless they have a comprehensive knowledge of every product option, it’s impossible to optimize configurations. And training new hires takes weeks.
It’s also error-prone. By the time manufacturing instructions reach the factory floor, they’ve already passed through numerous people in the sales and engineering chain. Each transition presents the potential for miscommunication and mistakes.
Last but certainly not least, it’s a stale buying experience for the customer. They only get to see a limited number of products in the flesh. The first time they “see” their custom product is when it arrives at their door. If it doesn’t meet their expectations, that’s a problem.
How has product visualization enabled KparK to sell more and reduce complexity?
Today, customers walking into KparK’s showrooms are entering a virtual as well as a physical space. They can experience and interact with KparK’s entire product catalog in hyper-realistic 3D in addition to physical products on display.
Customers can use a visual product configurator to change dimensions, colors, accessories, materials, and hardware at the touch of a button. They can see what their finished windows, doors, and shutters will look like on their actual house. It’s a fully immersive experience that supercharges win rate and brings products to life.
Then there’s the other side of the Epicor CPQ solution that the customer doesn’t get to see. Behind the scenes, Epicor CPQ is continuously collecting sales and manufacturing data and generating quotes, proposals, and estimates in real-time. It also calculates lead times, forecasts delivery dates, and creates technical drawings for the factory floor. Everything is instant and automated.
To what extent has KparK’s product visualization initiative been a reaction to the pandemic?
With showrooms closed, onsite visits canceled, and customers stuck at home, manufacturers like KparK have been scrambling to establish a means of effectively selling complex, configurable products at a distance.
Fortunately, KparK decided to implement product visualization before the pandemic began. So when the pandemic hit, they were already close to implementation. They’ve used this downtime to finalize the project and carry out extensive testing with customers.
KparK is ready to do business in the new normal, where customers want to transact from a distance and self-serve where they can. They’re a giant step ahead of the competition, who are desperately trying to catch up.
How is KparK thinking about product visualization online?
KparK now has product visualization functionality embedded into www.kpark.fr. Prospective customers can experience the entire KparK product catalog in 3D on any device. Customers entering showrooms have often acquainted themselves with KparK’s product offering online, making it a much easier sell for the salesperson on duty.
Longer-term, KparK is very bullish on eCommerce. The plan is to embed their 3D product configurator into www.kpark.fr and let customers configure and purchase products themselves. But that’s a massive change for the industry, and in the medium term, most customers in France still want to see big-ticket items (or similar ones, at least) in the flesh.
What obstacles did you encounter on the road to implementation? And what have been the results so far?
The pandemic did affect implementation, as you’d expect. The plan was to deliver an aggressive launch in February, but with everything locked down in France, KparK decided to delay some product launches until everything reopens. So we haven’t been able to measure the impact on sales yet.
In terms of process improvements, however, the results have been dramatic. Quote time has been cut to a fraction of what it was previously. The process has gone from a showroom visit, followed by several onsite visits with manual input from engineers and the factory, to a single visit that takes minutes.
The endless back-and-forth, paperwork, and napkin sketches have been eliminated. Everything is captured, stored, and transmitted digitally. Once the salesperson clicks “Confirm,” that’s it. Epicor CPQ handles the rest. Everything is automated, from showroom to shop floor, saving a huge amount of time, money, and stress.