Epicor Software kicked off its Insights LBM event yesterday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., in front of roughly 800 attendees, its largest lumber and building materials event to date.
The event, for current and prospective customers featured session tracks for Epicor’s BisTrack (for dealers and distributors), LumberTrack (for manufacturers), and warehouse management solutions, as well as a thought leadership track.
Resilience: From Surviving to Thriving
The opening keynote, delivered by Lisa Pope, executive vice president of Americas at Epicor, focused on resilience. “This industry has shown a tremendous amount of resiliency over the year, because of the ups and downs that we all faced with the market. But it really is…not just about surviving. It’s really about how you create a culture of thriving during consistent downturns, upturns, and change.”
As with any industry, there are many things in the LBM industry that cannot be controlled, one of which includes dramatic climate change and the impact of severe weather. “We have really seen a major shift in weather that is dramatically changing our industry,” Pope said.
She added that, since 1980, the frequency of severe weather has doubled. And this isn’t going unnoticed, especially by today’s young adults. Pope added that 18- to 34-year-olds are the most concerned that extreme weather will significantly damage their personal property or their community. “That’s because, during their life, they have seen consistent events happen year after year, getting more and more severe,” she said.
Pope, in only the past few years, has experienced her fair share of natural disasters. She’s had to evacuate from Houston due to flooding, Southern California because of wildfires, St. Martin due to a devastating hurricane, and in late October within a two-hour period she experienced 20 tornadoes in Dallas where she lives. This increase in severe weather in different regions of the United States “represents a challenge for us, but also certainly an opportunity, as well,” she said.
She stated that consumers want to see structural changes made to their homes so they can withstand severe weather. “And that’s where all of us come in,” she added.
For those who argue the industry can’t afford to build more resilient housing across different geographies, she stated, “The truth is, we can’t afford not to, because we are already paying for it.”
Tax dollars are paying for disaster relief. Businesses in the LBM industry, and many others, are forced to reduce production immediately after a disaster strikes. In areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters, home insurance rates have increased and property values have dropped. “We really cannot afford to continue to just do business as usual,” Pope warned.
To that end, she encouraged attendees to think about how they can build resilient buildings. “Every $1 we spend on creating a more resilient home saves $4 in the actual recovery, so there’s definitely an extremely strong cost benefit here.”
There are various ways the industry can help, such as promoting or selling wind-resistant roofs, fire-treated lumber, elevated building designs, and solar powered solutions, she said. One of Epicor’s BisTrack customers, Golden State Lumber, located in Sonoma, Calif., which was devastated by a series of fires, has seen a 40% increase in its fire-treated lumber.
In its effort to remain resilient, Epicor unveiled a slew of new product announcements at the event. Most notably, after acquiring Majure Data, an LBM warehouse management software provider, in July, Epicor announced that it rebranded the Majure Data RF Navigator solution as the Epicor Warehouse Management, which is available for BisTrack users. The cloud-enabled warehouse management solution enhances productivity and the control of processes to guide warehouse staff though daily activities, according to the company.
“We do counts all the time, and the Epicor Warehouse Management application has dramatically shortened the time it takes by about 10 hours each week. It frees staff to do other tasks such as making sure bin tags are correct and shelves are stocked full,” said Tyler Banken, IT Director at Dunn Lumber in a news release.
Designed for building materials suppliers, the Epicor Warehouse Management solution, can help improve inventory accuracy up to 95%, increase productivity by 20% to 30%, and reduce shipping errors by 90%, according to Epicor.
200 Product Updates
In addition to the Warehouse Management application update, Epicor revealed some of the roughly 200 new features and enhancements to its products, since last year’s conference.
Users have been able to send delivery notifications to customers via email but, later this month they will also be able to send text notifications, with three templated delivery options (expected time of arrival, in progress, and delivered).
After unveiling its Mitel CTI integration at least year’s event, Epicor has since upgraded the solution. Using computer telephony integration, the software can automatically populate a user’s screen with customer account information when that customer calls. “It’s very quick and easy now,” said Jason Parchomchuk, product manager of BisTrack at Epicor, during his presentation.
A new payment notification message rule was added to the Payment Links feature to enable customers to receive a notification immediately after a payment is made, instead of waiting up to three days for an ACH or credit card payment notification.
Salespeople periodically need to change customers' product delivery dates. However, if they don’t inform their dispatchers of the change, the product won’t be delivered when expected, creating a bad customer experience. To prevent this communication miscue, the software can automatically alert dispatchers for their approval of the date change request.
Preview Panes were added to give users the ability to quickly view important items such as purchase order lines, work order details, dates, and suppliers.
Updates were made to the BisTrack Delivery add-on to make it easier for drivers to look up a customer’s order information and capture signatures and images pertaining to that order. More than 8,000 people are using BisTrack Delivery, said Kevin Hodge, senior director of product, LBM, at Epicor. “People love it. They use it all the time.”
Looking ahead, Epicor expects to unveil BisTrack Global 7.0 in November 2020, which will combine the U.S. and U.K. versions into one application. The new version will include BisTrack core updates and a complete update to .Net.