Online configurators are becoming ever more important as 24/7 sales instruments for window and door producers – these days, these days you actually can't afford not to offer your customers a web configurator. Since 2020, BE Bauelemente has been using the A+W iQuote configurator for A+W Cantor: it's time to take a first look back.
Let's review: in 2006, BE Bauelemente GmbH, a company of the Schweiker Group, took over the Schüco locations in Leopoldshöhe und Großkugel for the production and sales of BE Fenster & Türen. From the very beginning, BE used A+W Cantor software everywhere in administration and production.
Today, BE is one of the leading companies in the window & door industry. With its BE Fenster & Türen brand, it sets standard for quality and reliability – for dealers and end customers alike. The company is active across Germany, in the Benelux companies, and in Scandinavia. BE is so closely connected to the companies in the Schweiker Group that this opens up many future opportunities and synergies. Progress in IT and digitalization are an important component here. Similarly important to BE is the close relationship to its partners. The strategic partnership with Schüco is unique here, which is why the designation 'Schüco First Partner' makes complete sense.
As an innovative company, BE is aware that digitalization is crucial not just in production, but also in the commercial sector, especially in customer communication. Digital sales channels make the path to the customer shorter and create true added value for all participating partners.
BE discussed providing the online configurator A+W iQuote with its software partner A+W. Customers love to use online configurators – but which customers are we talking about here? Are they dealers or end customers? Does everyone need the same configurator?
In the initial design phase, BE came to the conclusion that of course dealers are the most important users of configurators – but from the very start, there was a desire to include end customers as well. For anyone who needs a new door would like to have the opportunity to configure it with just a few clicks – this helps with the purchase decision and it's also fun. Hartmut Pantel, Sales Director North: "The concern here was especially to ensure that we presented customers with complex products as easily and comprehensibly as possible."
But for this, customers do not need to know all the technical details of their doors. The sales team around Hartmut Pantel found out that in a suitable configurator, an end customer can visualize 'his' exterior door with just five clicks – a good starting point for speaking to his dealer. The dealer generally requires about fifty clicks for the technical formulation of an exterior door.
The BE team then decided to work with two configurators: the easy-to-operate 'end customer configurator' and the dealer configurator, which provides a result that is ready for production.
For the dealers, the A+W Cantor dealer software, as a multi-trade cloud solution, is a good way to offer expanded possibilities, from professional design of the sales papers to complete installation and service planning.
Just a few months after its release, more than 200 customers are actively using the product configurator for BE Fenster & Türen, and everyone seems to be enthusiastic about it.
Now there are a multitude of possibilities for dialogue between the end customer and dealer. Maybe the end customer wants to "play" with the configurator in peace while sitting on the sofa at home. Thanks to the configurator's mobility, it can also be used in dialogue with a dealer to play through many options, e.g. on-site on the construction site; perhaps these options wouldn't even have occurred to anyone otherwise. In the end, the customer gets not just his door largely configured with expert help, he also gets a realistic price, for the configurator now works with the latest prices and conditions that are stored in the BE database in A+W Cantor. The configurator becomes a virtual showroom, which should be complemented by a visit to a "real" showroom to look and feel – for the configurator can show very well what the door will look like, but not what it will feel like.
Project with many participants
By now it should be clear that the people at BE focused on this project intensively and across departments. Of course it was first a sales project under the leadership of Hartmut Pantel, supported by the IT department under the leadership of Marian Wilm with a constant exchange of ideas. But it soon became evident that the entire company had to be involved, for this project is extremely complex. BE's complete master data logic had to be mapped seamlessly in A+W iQuote and sometimes changed.
That's how A+W iQuote provided inspiration for the re-examination of and changes to many internal processes and perspectives. "Changed flows," explains Hartmut Pantel, "re-worked papers, and more accurate designations will contribute to better communication with the end customer. Only this complete integration enables secure and complete product configuration in A+W iQuote."
But some things also had to be changed in the configurator – not least due to requests from dealers, who wanted to incorporate their own focal points. That's why today, additional special external doors and mailbox systems can also be configured. "Once again, it paid off," says Marian Wilm, "that we always worked with A+W Cantor as partners and in goal-oriented fashion. At the request of BE and the A+W developers, we made the user interface still more ergonomic and flexible – many things are now simpler and more intuitive." Hartmut Pantel adds: "With what we've done with A+W Cantor, we are a market leader when it comes to configuration."
This article was first published in German language in the trade journal BB - Bauelemente Bau 02 / 2022.