e-Procurement Portal Delights Softcat Customers

Launched last month, Softcat’s new e-Procurement service eCAT is going down a storm with customers. Over the past four weeks, 500 additional Softcat customers have signed up to the portal, which gives them visibility of the full product portfolio and their order history, and access to their account managers using a variety of media, including an instant chat feature. Merus Software Ltd developed the customised procurement software, which catalogues 380,000 IT products, and eCAT has over 5,000 customer accounts including 4,500 imported from the previous e-Procurement system.

eCAT is a multifunctional information portal for registered Softcat customers. It gives them personalised accounts where they can view detailed product specifications, compare products, build bundles, produce reports, as well as viewing their order history and contacting their account managers. eCAT enables IT managers to easily compare and contrast products without the need to visit vendor websites.

eCAT personalises the buying process for customers. For example, if the customer’s requirement is complex then they can build a bundle from a pre-configured list of products to make ordering quick and simple, with their Account Manager always on hand if required. Access can be configured differently for different members of a client’s team depending on each person’s needs.

“We listened to our customers and identified a need for a flexible, easy to use procurement site,” said eBusiness Manager Craig Williams. “It’s completely customer-focused – built to accommodate specific customer requirements. Every company’s buying process is different, and we needed to facilitate individual customer preferences. Many of our customers are perfectly happy with account management by telephone, but others want an online option to supplement that, where they can create their own favourite product lists, approval hierarchies, bundles, communicate with their Account Manager, and do business on their own terms. Since the launch we’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback; eCAT really filled a need.”

Craig also spoke of new developments for the platform. “We’re constantly reviewing customer feedback and improving eCAT to make sure it is as intuitive as it can be. Customers and their feedback drive the entire platform, it’s completely oriented around the customer. For example, some of our public sector frameworks clients, and those with BYOD staff purchase schemes, expressed a need for credit card functionality to enable their end users to make personal purchases at corporate prices, so we’re now in the process of implementing this.” He added, “eCAT is by no means an open web shop, but it gives our customers more control, more visibility, and a better overall service.”

Softcat can also help customers with their own e-Procurement strategies, implementing and integrating technologies for an optimal e-Procurement service.

Colin Brown, Softcat’s managing director, said “eCAT is built very much as Softcat itself was built; with customers at the heart of its functionality. It’s flexible, scalable and personalised to meet the needs of each customer – essentially it’s an extension of Softcat’s general approach to customer service. Anything that makes us easier to do business with is a good thing.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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