Friday, September 22, 2017

Data That Helps You Sell = Downloads

Real Time Data – Big Time Results

When manufacturers provide a platform for designers and dealers to openly source product design symbols from their website, it facilitates the opportunity to view valuable data. This point of interaction, within the sales process, can provide the opportunity to capture a higher percentage of business.

Here are the kinds of website data that help you sell more

Specific Product

The product being downloaded has the ability to be specified at the time of download. A decision has not yet been made. Downloads are the potential opportunities hidden in the 3D symbols. Without the symbols and website integration tool to track and report this data it will not be effective. Simply put, there would not be any data.

Selection of Products 

Knowing what products that designers and dealers are downloading. Also, the ability to know which products are downloaded at the same time, and the ability to see what products are no longer relevant to your customer.

Format Downloaded 

The file type downloaded is a great way to analyze what software format is being used by your potential customer. It also provides regional insight on areas where certain formats or more popular than others.

Who is Downloading

Manufacturers get to know who is downloading the content and gauge the effectiveness of their strategy in approaching these businesses. Clarity in the business decisions that are made can allow insights that previously were never measurable.

Geographic Location 

The ability to see the future knowing that there will not be a purchase decision made opens the opportunity to go after the area with the most potential. Tracking and measuring these downloads will shed light on the activity level given for a geographic area.


Downloaded products in a geographical area can also give insight on what times, seasons, and types of products your customers are purchasing. Knowing the time and trends helps predict the future.

Sales Projection 

Cleaning up the capabilities by calculating the dollar amount and volume of activity can help manufacturers’ segment projections. Correlate these to time, products, and geographic areas make a more precise projection for sales teams and manufacturing.

Lead Generation

Sales opportunities will be uncovered through tracking downloads. The information can be given to sales teams to help them communicate a clearer message to their dealers and become a valuable source of information to their clients.

Market Standing

Compare your numbers with the industry and begin to understand what products manufacturers are excelling in and areas where they are losing. Look at the dollar amount of downloads compared to the total sales volume captured and make conclusions about overall market standing.

These are all the elements of important information you can extract from symbol downloads on your website that will help you sell more.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Keys To Creating An Online Environment That Increases Specifications

Data shows that manufacturers who have a sales rich websites win in the specification game. Here are the keys to websites that sell more.

Marketing (drive potential customers to your resource page) 

Tell the market that this resource is available through your sales team, front page of your website, social media, email, catalogs, direct marketing, and at industry tradeshows/networking events. The more that people know the more they will use.


Provide products in multiple downloadable formats and information. According to a survey by Stephen Witte and Associates, interior designers listed manufacturers website as the most used tool resource when researching products. To read more from the report How To Wow Interior Designers In The Furniture Specification Process.


When a customer requests a product from a sales team or through email drive them to this resource page. You will provide this link, and all they have to do is click it to find a page where all of the manufacturer’s content is available, in multiple formats, for download.


Encourage them to download your products, ask people to interact with products, and request feedback for how you can make the products better for them. Gain insight through interaction.


This online environment will be a place that generates clear analytics about your customers, the market, your products, and improvements/successes that would never go noticed prior to providing this platform. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.


Constant interaction with dealer/designer decision makers equates to more opportunity. The goal is to create the correct playing field for them.

Why Designers REALLY specify your products

Specification is one of the most powerful positions for contract manufacturers early in the buying process for a project.

The requirements that dealers cannot meet because manufacturers are unwilling to invest in multiple, high cost, labor intensive, and extremely technical design software.

Who would want to either? These new design software technologies are not useful or needed in the process of manufacturing furniture.

What designers and dealers really want from your website:

1. Downloads that are fast and easy 

On the web, downloads are a hassle free. Making dealers and designers login to get a product is a huge mistake. Keep it simple and easy to get the most exposure and usage from your website.

Designers want a response the same day and putting your resources in an easy to download format will make your website an asset.

2. Files that are in the needed format 

DWG/Revit/Sketchup/20-20: the preferred formats that are needed for the project. This helps Architects, Designers, and Dealers enjoy working with one another because there were no hiccups in the planning process.

Providing multiple formats for products eliminates the annoying, time consuming (project delaying) issue that architects and designers have experienced over and over again on manufacturer websites. They want the planning process to be easy, quick, and complete.

When manufacturers do this, designers become loyal to their brand because the download experience is streamlined and easy.

From Stephen Witte Associates "How To Wow Interior Designers In The Specification Process"


Designers require variation products to fit the needs of their clients. Dealers receive requests from a designer that can make or a break a deal.

Give the dealer the ability to use the software they can to change and customize finish options and designs. Manufacturers have to focus on participating in this relationship to drive growth and stay competitive.

This is not optional for manufacturers.   It’s imperative for survival, but some manufacturers just do not understand the value behind improving.

They do not see the return on investment and do not see improvements to their sales or products.

4. Presentable

 Providing a dealer with the right information and specifications that designers request will make the process of preparing a presentation happen quickly and correctly.

In Conclusion

Manufacturers will be looked at as up-to-date, innovative, and knowledgeable. Ultimately creating a destination that dealers and designers go to for information becomes a place that is fun and enjoyable to visit.

Creating this environment increases the number of visits and the amount of time dealers and designers spend on a manufacturer’s website.

Dealers and designers start to dive deeper into product families, finish options, and features they did not see before because they were on multiple manufacturers’ websites trying to make decisions.

Spending more time focused on one brand allows a customer to see the deeper value in a manufacturer’s products. At this point it will be extremely hard to NOT be specified.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

5 Reasons Why Manufacturers Love CET Designer

Over the last couple of years, we've watched the success of CET Designer in the contract furniture industry, and we've been very impressed.

As you know, CET Designer is a powerful design software that dealer designers use to create spaces and specify products.

More and more manufacturers have created their extensions for CET Designer, so designers can specify and use their products in their designs.

What is an extension?  An extension is a way for you to express your products within CET Designer.

You as the manufacturer create an extension with the name of your company. Dealers download the extension, and then they can access your products to place in their designs.

So why do so many manufacturers love CET Designer? Here are 5 reasons why:

1. CET Designer helps manufacturers connect with dealers 

CET Designer is a marketing and sales channel for manufacturers.

The design software is easy to use and provides a way that designers can interact with manufacturer products in a simple and powerful way. This means that dealers love it and are thankful for manufacturers who offer them products to use in CET Designer.

Configura also offers loads of marketing opportunities for manufacturers who build extensions for CET Designer.

These opportunities include press releases about the launch of your extension, e-blasts to users,  and announcements at Configura’s conferences.

It makes sense that manufacturers are excited about this new way to reach their target audience.  

2. CET Designer reduces mistakes

Designers love CET Designer because product rules are baked into most extensions.  CET Designer only lets designers configure your products based on your rules.

This means that manufacturers help designers reduce mistakes and help their own operations by ensuring orders they receive are possible and accurate.

This shortens the sales cycle for the dealer and speeds up fulfillment on the manufacturer’s end.

3.  CET Designer helps manufacturers internally

A CET Designer render

The fun isn't only for dealers.  Manufacturers use CET Designer for their internal specification and design teams.

The interface is drag and drop, easy-to-use, and rich with the product data that manufacturer internal teams need to sell their products.

CET Designer even has connectivity with ERP systems, so the information that your internal team works with will be compatible with your company-wide data system.

4. All of the major contract furniture dealer channels are on board with CET Designer

Configura’s influence has grown exponentially the last couple of years.  Now all of the major dealer channels (Steelcase, Haworth, Herman Miller, Allsteel, Knoll, Teknion) are either already offering their extensions in CET Designer or planning to do so in the coming year.

This is important for open brands, as open brands want to improve their sales in primary dealer channels.  CET Designer extensions are the perfect way for mid-sized manufacturers to stand out in the crowd.

5. Manufacturers are partners when they develop for CET Designer

Configura is the company behind CET Designer, and they are one of the most open companies I've ever seen.  Configura is extremely friendly with new manufacturers who develop for their CET Designer platform.

They are so friendly, they even call manufacturers and supporting vendors “partners.”

Configura is also great about inviting partners to become part of the development process for the CET Designer platform.  They respond to suggestions on ways to improve the software for their customers.

This also carries over to their user base of over 5,000 designers who they often ask for product feedback.

These are the reasons manufacturers love CET Designer and why you should too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our New Virtual Reality Guy

There is a new breed of digital technician out there who create entire worlds that exist within goggles. They're helping your customers learn about your products and environments in ways that you've never imagined possible.  Can you imagine what the world will be like 20 years from now?

Here are 5 questions for our new VR Technician, Alex Fischer:

1. Where are you from originally?

I'm originally from Iowa. I grew up in the suburbs of Cedar Rapids.

2. Where did you graduate from college and what did you study?

I graduated from Tribeca Flashpoint College with a focus in Animation and Visual Effects. While there, I discovered my passion for Real-time Game Engines.

3. What is your favorite technology to play with right now ?

For me, the most exciting technology at the moment is Virtual Reality. After recently acquiring an HTC Vive, I've discovered the entertainment behind Room-Scale VR.

4. Do you think wearing VR goggles will be a new fashion statement this year?

If you've had the opportunity to see some of the newer VR Headsets, you'll notice how they don't necessarily keep a "low profile." 

Given a little time to advance the technology, VR headsets will be much smaller, and more flattering on the user.

5. How do you see VR changing business for manufacturers and architects?

Manufacturers and architects will benefit greatly from using VR. Simply put, the technology is a new form of communication that accurately and clearly shows a product or design.

Learn more about our Virtual Reality Services.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What's New: OFCDesk Connect Features

You can view your designs within the Connect web interface before you start your render.

Show your true colors

Now you can view your designs on the web with enhanced clarity and vibrant color, before you render.

After opening your uploaded design in Connect, you can apply finishes and see the results in stunning color.  You will see the colors applied to all designs that have associated color swatches.

This will help you visualize your designs even better, before sending them to be rendered.  

Revit materials in color: All of the colors that you have applied in CAP, or in the Connect interface, will be attached to the Revit Families that you translate through color materials. 

This means that your customers who use Revit will be able easily change materials inside designs you send them, visualized the way that you created them....with color. 

Take a better picture

Before you render, you can place the camera anywhere you want in the space.

Our Connect camera, found in the viewer window, is new and improved. 

There are no limitations as to where you can place the camera. This allows you full control over what portion of the design you would like to render.

Zoom in nice and close. Pull all the way back, or view from underneath the object, for a long shot of your design.  The choice is yours.

Here is the finished product, after it has been rendered:

Click HERE to learn more about Connect.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

7 Ways The Furniture Industry Will Benefit From Cloud Computing

Keep your head in the clouds.

Cloud computing has been around for years, but companies have revolutionized the way they have embrace and use this technology in the last 20 years.  The fundamental process of connecting devices and data through the web has made business easier and will shape the way sales are handled in the contract furniture industry.

So what is "the cloud" anyway?

In short, the cloud is the Internet.  If you wanted to be more practical you could say the "cloud" is a server that is connected to the Internet, where all of your files and designs are stored in one central place that can be accessed on various devices.

A good example of a "cloud computer" these days is a cell phone, an iPad, a laptop, desktop, or even a watch.  This includes any device connected to the web that is ready to interact with information from the cloud.

The cloud gives you the ability to save, manage, and edit your data on the web, where it is safe from theft and lost data.  Let’s look at the 7 ways that the cloud will benefit designers who work in the contract furniture industry:

1. Control costs

Let's discuss the bottom line first.  When you look at software for your business, numbers are the first thing you evaluate.  Each software user in your business equates to another hefty expense added to your yearly budget.

One of cloud-based software’s top benefits is its pricing flexibility.

The modern software model today is moving toward subscription-based licenses. This step reduces your costs to a monthly expense which can be adjusted as your business expands and contracts.

Because the technology resides in the cloud, these changes will be made instantly. The beauty of the cloud is that it helps you avoid costly, long-term software license commitments.

2. Backup and recovery

Did you spill coffee on your laptop again?  Did you drop your cell phone into a full sink of water?  Did you throw your tablet across the room after a bad day at work?  How about the virus that deleted all of your files on your work computer?

Accidents happen.  We all know that files or designs residing on a laptop or desktop computer are vulnerable and could be lost at any moment.  Maybe you remembered to back them up on the network drive, but often this isn't the case.

When your files are in the cloud, they are not only accessible anywhere, they are also backed up automatically, no matter what happens.

3. Improved collaboration

You may remember the days when you had to email a shared document back and forth multiple times until you finally reached the final draft. Oh wait... You probably still use this editing method now!

When your files are in the cloud, they can be accessed from a central point on the web.  Now it’s much easier to edit documents, make notes, and view designs in real-time with your co-worker or client who could be miles away. 

This concept has been popular in the past couple of years on the document level (sharing Excel and Word files).

Take it a step further, at OFCDesk, we want to explore this concept on a grander scale. We give you the ability to share your designs via the cloud.  We love the cloud and that is why our software lives there.

In the contract furniture industry, clients can be located anywhere. Often, you may work with multiple partners to close a deal or assist a customer.  Cloud computing allows this to happen faster, making work easier and gives you instant peace of mind.

4. Instant software updates

 The days of the annoying, recurrent pop-up that tells you to update your software will be a thing of the past. 

Soon, there will be no need to have your IT person imprison your computer for hours during valuable work time.

Cloud computing gives the software developer the ability to change and update software constantly, without disrupting work or making you wait weeks for a new update to fix or improve functionality.

This also means that new features will be readily available to you. You'll have new tools to increase your efficiency monthly and often weekly, as developers make regular changes to the software.

5. Scalability and Customization

Cloud based software shapes itself to your workflow and demand.  Because the software runs off an Internet server, it can be customized to match the changes in your business.

Cloud-based computing also helps with server space and licenses.

As I mentioned above, software subscriptions can be added or removed on a monthly basis, due to your current work demand.  This is important when you look at contract furniture dealers which are primarily project-based businesses.  Projects come and they go. Cloud software can easily adjust and track these changes.  

Server space is the next important flexible area for cloud-based software.

How much space do you need to store your award winning designs or renders in the cloud?  There is often a limit.  More server space can be purchased to adjust to the number of files and designs that you store in the cloud.

6. Work anywhere you want

This is commonly cloud computing's number one benefit.  Because your documents are in the cloud and the software is often accessed via a web browser--you now have the ability to access, edit, manage, upload, download, and review your files anywhere there is a device and an Internet connection.

We take this a step further with our new Connect tool. The cloud-based software gives you the ability to access your CAP designs and edit them on any web-enabled device.

7. Big computer capabilities

When I talk about a "big computer," I mean a computer that has the ability to work harder, longer, and smarter than the laptop or desktop sitting on your desk.

Big computers (servers in the cloud) help designers render and visualize their designs faster, without eating up their own resources. 

How long does it take you to render a product on your computer?  Did it take a long time, and were you able to work while your computer rendered your image?

Cloud technology gives you the ability to create your design and to render your masterpiece in the cloud, without slowing you down.  Let the computer in the cloud do all the work while you move on to the next task in your day.