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Mobile Technology Trends
Changing Your Business:

What To Do

If you are like me, someone who has been around the distribution business for several decades, you’ve become jaded and perhaps even a little suspicious when so-called experts forecast big changes that will radically transform our businesses. Often these forces of change are mis-cast as the next Armageddon for independent distributors. I remember those dire forecasts of the early 2000s predicting gloom and doom for independents in the face of a big-box invasion and distribution consolidations. Well, we all know what happened. Sure, there has been (and will continue to be) consolidation in the plumbing distribution space. But what has become increasingly important is the critical role independent distributors play in creating channel value by building effective and enduring relationships with plumbers and contractors. The best of the best, despite a pandemic and other headwinds, continue to grow and thrive. In part, because they create superior relationships over their competitors.

Mobile is a BIG deal

You have a business to run. Who has time to worry about emerging digital, e-commerce and mobile engagement trends? Well, the answer to that question is you. The real question is what are you going to do about it? The rapid increase in smartphone use is one of those forecasted BIG changes that’s lived up to expectations. It’s here, right now, not over the horizon, and it is impacting your business. Embracing mobile technologies in your business is really about improving customer experiences to drive growth. Most plumbers and contractors spend much of their day on-the-go and their mobile phone is the essential tool that keeps them connected to customers, team members and suppliers. Whether it is texting a customer to confirm an appointment or ordering products they need, mobile has changed the way work gets done. The numbers don’t lie with more than 80% of contractors preferring communication via mobile text messages or push notifications—versus email and phone calls. Savvy distributors need to know how to use this powerful communications tool to not only connect with their customers, but also to guide them and create better more productive experiences. A recent conversation I had with a plumbing contractor bears this out. He said, “I don’t need more business as I’ve got all the business I can handle. What I really need is more time. The distributor who delivers time-savings and convenience, moves to the top of my list.”

It doesn’t have to be complicated

In this hyper-connected world, the growing need to answer incoming texts, chats, emails and mobile app messages can seem overwhelming for a distributor. That’s where Moblico, an IMARK Plumbing service provider, comes in. Mobile technology veteran Pierre Barbeau co-founded Moblico with Jim Barnes in 2010 with the goal of making innovative mobile technology easy and effective for independent distributors. In 11 short years, they have transformed how distributors use mobile in their businesses. Their unique platform combines incoming messages into a single, easy-to-use teamwide inbox that’s accessible from anywhere, anytime. This enables the distributor to quickly respond with the most appropriate team member, who can see message history and customer info and provide information and solutions for their customers. This quick and effective response not only builds customer trust, but it also provides real value in the form of time savings for all involved.

“For more than a decade, our mission has been to help distributors use mobile technologies to improve the customer experience and drive increased sales,” says Barbeau. “We bring an unmatched level of experience and knowhow to the table, and we take the time to listen to the needs of each client. We’ve helped companies that have fallen behind in developing a digital-mobile strategy to quickly bridge the technology gap, and leapfrog ahead to where their customers want them to be.”

Think of mobile technology as a tool that makes it easier and more convenient for your customers to engage with you by using their smartphone or mobile deice. It doesn’t take the place of your sales teams or counter staffs. Rather, it helps make your sales assets work better and more efficiently. Here’s an example: For many distributors launching an e-commerce site is a big deal with a lot of moving parts. However, once you’ve done the heavy lifting—how do you make it easier for your customers to access your site and order from it? That’s where mobile helps bridge the gap. Distributors can use targeted broadcast messaging to send useful information to their customers—combined with an invitation to learn more or to take advantage of a specific offer.

Real-world examples of how mobile saves time & money

Any seasoned distribution pro will tell you that the most common communications between a distributor and customers are logistics related. When a product is ready for pickup, the old-fashioned way of handling that required me (the distributor) to pick up the phone and call you (the contractor). But you can’t answer because you’re on the job. So, I leave a voicemail. Then after seeing the missed call, you don’t listen to my voicemail. Instead, you call back and now you’re on hold, playing phone tag. Moblico’s business messaging represents a better more efficient alternative: “Why don’t I just send you a text that your product is ready to pick up. If there are questions, just text me back.”

Another common pain point for distributors is call abandonment. I’m a customer calling you. You’re not answering your phone. I get frustrated and I hang up. What if you had an on-hold message that says, “If you’re on hold, we apologize. But if you want to send a text to this number, it’ll get through right away.” In this scenario, you are not only making it easier to do business, you’re saving your customer precious time. Another example is when, as a distributor employee, my job requires me to receive and send texts to customers from my personal cell phone. That means I am 24/7 at your service. If I am at home after business hours having dinner and I get a text about an order, it might go unanswered. With Moblico’s platform, text messages are seamlessly routed to a convenient portal where a team of people can share responsibility for responding to the customers’ messages, so no single employee is on-call 24/7.

A comprehensive offering

Moblico offers a comprehensive mobile communications and marketing platform that is uniquely tailored to each distributor client and delivers proven solutions that are easy to deploy. It’s all about bringing together the mobile points of engagement that matter to a distributor and their customer to improve processes. “Our products help many facets of the business, not just one department or another. Our solutions can be used “bite-sized”—one at a time—or the customer can take the whole thing and run with it”, says Barbeau.

Moblico’s primary product is Business Messaging, which is a two-way conversational system that features a valuable resource called the Team Inbox. Distributor team members have an easy-to-use web log-in as well as a mobile app that’s smartphone friendly. It allows customers and team members to text, email, chat or call, with customers simply using your existing landline number. The secure system ensures that vital details don’t get lost or misplaced—as everything is saved in the message archive for the next person who needs to respond. You see who called, when they called, who responded, what was said and more. The distributor’s delivery, counter staff, outside sales, marketing and accounting teams can all use and benefit from it.

A real time-saver

It’s a real time-saver as the distributor no longer has to check four separate inboxes. Additionally, your customers are expecting faster service, hassle-free convenience and relevancy more than ever before. The Moblico system checks all the boxes and delivers efficiency and time-saving value. This value extends to other innovative services like text order pickup notifications for customers who use Apex Order Pickup Lockers and for e-commerce or will-call order pickup notifications.

“Wherever your customers and employees are, we make it easy for them to get any type of product information they need and place an order,” says Barbeau.

Targeted Broadcast puts critical information in the palm of your customers’ hand

Another product, Targeted Broadcast, is a powerful tool for one-to-many communication. It’s a great way for a distributor to deliver timely and valuable text and MMS messages directly to their customers’ mobile phones. With contractors and techs using their phones so much, it’s becoming the optimal way to engage and connect. Savvy distributors are using this resource to customize their targeted broadcast messaging across all channels, to different customer segments, with amazing results. We also do what’s called In-App Push, delivering messages through a native mobile app. It works on any mobile app that you bring to Moblico, but if you don’t have your own app, Moblico will produce one unique to the distributor. This is a powerful solution as it provides the distributor with full control of the app’s content, bringing a higher level of value and convenience to their customers. A custom mobile app brings everything your customer needs to do business with you into the palm of their hand. We collaborate with each client to maximize their app’s versatility and functionality. Because we’re distribution pros, we know what works best and will deliver value for ever app user.

Use mobile to build trust, fortify customer relationships

For most distributors, B2B relationships are their lifeblood and the need to continually provide value and build trust is essential. Assistance-based notifications like, “Your order is ready for pickup” are effective because the open rate for texts is about 90% and you’re delivering an important message of value to the person you’re sending it to. Another example would be, “We’re going to close early today,” or “We have an event next week, will you attend?” When you save your customers time, you become more valuable.

Not all mobile solutions are created equal

In addition to bringing innovative technology solutions to the table, Moblico has earned a reputation for knowing what it takes for independent distributors to be successful. As a family-owned business that’s focused on helping distributors, the Moblico team knows what works and how best to seamlessly implement them. For a growing number of distributors, a custom mobile app represents the optimal mobile engagement tool. A custom mobile app seamlessly brings together all communications; everything from texting, email, automated delivery notifications, bill payment, e-commerce, tech support and more into the palm of your customer’s hand. A custom mobile app is easier and more affordable than you might think and could represent a game-changing technology and mobile convenience leap for your customers.

Create an inviting digital sandbox for customers

At the end of the day, you want to create an atmosphere where your customers want to participate, engage and do business with you digitally. We call this a digital sandbox and your customers’ eagerness to participate is driven by the value of the information they receive. Think about it, if you see value in the communications you receive, you become increasingly willing to engage on a deeper more frequent level.

There’s never been a better time to go mobile

It’s not an exaggeration to say that for most manufacturers, getting their brand and product messaging in front of the end user is critical. Many of Moblico’s distributor clients use its tools to take full advantage of this and monetize these channels with their key vendors. For instance, once you have contractors on this platform; engaging with you on their mobile phones, you’ve created an environment that manufacturers covet. Moblico can provide valuable resources that help you fully leverage and monetize these mobile channels once they’re in place.

How do I get started?

Most distributors have heard, or experienced nightmarish I/T project launches or ERP integrations that were disruptive and costly. Moblico’s approach to mobile technology doesn’t work that way. Rather, the entire program is geared toward making it easier for your customers and your team to use mobile technology. You don’t need to take the whole bottle of aspirin at once! Most distributors start with business messaging and targeted broadcast. Solutions are tailored to unique needs, and you don’t pay for services you’re not using. The Moblico team is eager to speak with you and learn more about your unique situation. An interactive live demo is a terrific way to experience for yourself, how mobile technologies work and will benefit your company and your customers.

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