One year into the Covid pandemic, the entire industry has had to adapt quickly to remote working, with Microsoft Teams calls and Zoom meetings now part of our daily existence. While the switch to digital meeting technology was borne out of necessity, it has become a valuable tool on everyone’s desk, and has likely changed the way the industry does business for years to come.
NMBS has worked closely with its members over the past year, using digital technology to stay connected despite the challenges of numerous lockdowns. As the industry has adapted, however, the additional benefits of online interaction have become clear, and NMBS is now urging all its Members to embrace Teams, Zoom, and other ways of communicating online.
Dean Hayward, Sales & Marketing Manager of NMBS, explained: “Our sales teams have been working hard to keep in touch with our Members via Zoom and Teams, and we’re seeing many benefits to using this technology that we perhaps hadn’t anticipated at first. Communicating online means our sales team are even better placed to answer any questions our Members may have, as they have all their reports to hand and can use functions such as the ‘share screen’ option to share the latest rebate reports, special offers, and any other information that the Member might need.
“Using these systems means the calls are more structured, with agreements being reached quickly, and it gives Members quick access to category and turnover reports. It has also proved particularly helpful for those Members who are uncertain how to use our online systems, such as the Report Centre or OnePlace portal, as our sales teams can give them a live demonstration, which is much clearer than describing things over the phone.
“We are all looking forward to a time when it is safe to meet up as an industry, at events such as our NMBS Exhibition and Dinner Dance, but new opportunities are borne out of adversity, and it’s clear that this new technology will continue to be a valued tool for us to use going forward.”
Bob Fleetwood, Purchasing Director at Kellaway Building Supplies, is one of the NMBS Members who has seen the benefits of using digital technology to stay connected. He says: “Before Covid we all spent far too much time travelling and staying away for meetings – it was the accepted way of doing business.
“Now, with everyone working from home for a large part of the year we have had to learn to communicate in a different way. Having mastered it, I believe the way we do business will change forever. The reality is that we can now stay better connected, and business can be done at a pace, with instant decisions and less time spent travelling, meaning we can all be more efficient.”
To showcase the benefits of its OnePlace platform to industry suppliers, NMBS is hosting a webinar taking place on Wednesday 17 February, at 10:30am. Suppliers will be able to explore the new features of OnePlace, and see how they can benefit from becoming an approved OnePlace supplier.
Since its initial launch OnePlace has enabled NMBS members to order product from approved OnePlace suppliers via the built-in B2B ordering functions, as well as giving the member access to Order Acknowledgements and Delivery Notes. Throughout 2020 the platform was developed further to allow members to download product and price data in a structured format and integrate it into their Back Office or E-Commerce platforms, opening up additional sales opportunities for both the member and supplier.
Some of the key features that have recently been added to OnePlace include the ability to incorporate quantity breaks and discounts into pricing structures, stock links to clearly show product availability, and order tracking so that merchants can monitor their delivery status.
Suppliers are also able to manage their product data in one place using the NMBS PIM, while an improved order process has resulted in increased efficiencies for members and suppliers.
Andy Hextall, NMBS Commercial Director, says: “The OnePlace platform has been hugely successful since its launch, with new suppliers coming online all the time. Our vision is for NMBS OnePlace to become the primary trading platform for our members and suppliers, and we would encourage any supplier interested in getting involved to join our webinar, where they will be able to see the benefits for themselves, and ask any questions they may have as part of an interactive Q&A.”
For more details, visit www.nmbs.co.uk.