Mercury identifies ways to increase sales, reduce costs and keep the sales team motivated with Phocas
Mercury Lighting (Mercury) is Canada’s largest independent lighting solutions provider with two locations, 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and nearly 9,000 SKUs. The 45-person company specializes in lighting solutions for six verticals, including retail, property management, industrial, office, outdoor and ESCOs.
Better serving customers with market intelligence
For Mercury, every client presents a new challenge, and while lighting may be the common denominator for most solutions, every project is an opportunity to create something unique.
As a result, each Mercury salesperson is considered a specialist within a specific vertical or product line. With this business approach, it is critical for Mercury to listen to clients, understand their purchasing behavior and gain as much market intelligence as possible. Armed with this information, the company can better serve customers across Canada.
“Our markets have changed significantly the past five years,” said Eric Tordjman, one of the owners of Mercury.
“The change is a function of technology, so the old methods of buying materials and hanging on to them for six months and not knowing if and when you’re going to sell them no longer works. Data has taken our understanding of customers and their purchasing patterns, as well as market conditions, to another level. We used to be very reactive in our approach, but today we have access to better information.”
Mining value from business data
The company uses SAP Business One for its ERP, which is data rich beyond anything that the company can use, according to Tordjman. Having all the data is great, but the biggest challenge for Mercury was mining value from the information. The company would run sales reports for sales persons, letting them know what they sold last month, but that was the extent of reporting.
“The data was there as far as what our clients were buying and whether there was a seasonal aspect to their purchases, but it was very difficult to mine it,” said Tordjman.
The company needed a data analytics solution that would meet three key objectives:
Excitement for Phocas unlike any other software
As a member of Affiliated Distributors (AD), Tordjman had come across Phocas data analytics software several times at association events. A year and a half after first seeing a demo, and following the endorsement of two AD members and peers, Mercury decided to deploy Phocas.
“We really liked the concept behind Phocas, but we weren’t sure if we would be able to dive in and use the software,” said Tordjman. “The user endorsement from two trusted sources put us over the top. Their excitement for Phocas was beyond anything that I had seen for a software product.”
Based on the endorsements of respected peers, Tordjman had high expectations for the implementation and deployment of Phocas.
He added, “Our expectations for Phocas were set pretty high by the people that recommended the software, and from the beginning, Phocas has exceeded all of them.”
Today, Mercury management uses Phocas to provide team members with weekly sales reports in business areas such as identifying ways to increase sales, reduce costs and motivate the sales team.
Tordjman added, “The neat part of Phocas is its simplicity and intuitiveness. Any mistakes you make, you can just undo and reformat, and even when I make mistakes, I find something new that is valuable. The more we dig in and send out the weekly sales reports, the more people are telling us how valuable the data is.”
Measuring supplier performance
Mercury is also using Phocas to help measure the performance of suppliers. Vendors frequently ask Mercury to sell more of their product, but often require the company to promote all their products to its internal teams.
“We tell them we can sell more products if they work with our individual sales reps and help them understand more about their product offerings,” said Tordjman. “We put the responsibility of product education and growth with our company in their hands, and we’re now able to use Phocas to measure if this is happening, which allows us to hold vendors more accountable.”
Mercury is also planning to share sales data with vendors so they can understand how well their products are performing among its customer base.
Controlling the behavior of the business
In addition, the company has always wanted to use data to control the “behavior” of the business, but that has been challenging because of the company’s variable throughout from salesperson and vendors.
The ability to mine data from SAP and then organize it in such a way that it’s digestible is among the core benefits of Phocas.
“When we give the analytics and reporting to someone, we need it to make sense so they can understand the patterns and trends,” said Tordjman. “From there, they can measure and develop a pathway to success. There’s always a question of, ‘How did it happen?’ Mining the data in Phocas gives us that understanding. It answers the why and the how, which is the biggest challenge.”
Tordjman sees Phocas helping more areas of the business, from purchasing to inventory. Two years from now, how Phocas is used across the business will likely change dramatically from how it is used today.
He added, “Every day that we use Phocas, we are getting more comfortable with the software, and learning more about what we can do with data analytics. The neat thing about making reports, and even making mistakes, is you’re going to find something valuable that you weren’t looking for. The experience has been awesome.”