DDI System hosted 250 attendees during Inform Connects 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee during their 6 th biennial user conference. DDI System, a leading ERP software provider for wholesale distributors, leveraged the insights of well-known industry thought leaders Steve Epner and Dirk Beveridge to facilitate discussions on facing change in the disruptive marketplace.

Inform Connects brought together Inform ERP system users for 2 days of intensive training on system capabilities, new features and thought provoking strategies facing the modern distributor. Dirk brought energy to the crowd as he discussed innovation and building a new, relevant customer experience — something DDI System leverages as part of their mantra every single day. “What customers crave—and what few companies provide—are well designed experiences and complete solutions to their problems,” Beveridge says.

“In this changing economy, software providers are continually challenged to increase automation and improve the user experience. At DDI System, we bring together your customer’s information to provide greater insight and touch points that drive customer engagement and meaningful client conversations,” says Barbara Jagoe, COO. “Readily available contact screens serve as powerful, analytic tools to improve customer relationships and increase sales. The ability to see a customer’s purchase patterns, history, and personal notes — like where they like to vacation or their hobbies—allows our distributors to engage and connect on a much more personal level better than any online shopping experience.”

This customer-centric approach remains front and center as DDI proved during the development and launch of their new customer engagement workflow tools in Version 17 of Inform ERP, released earlier this year. “Starting a sales order from the customer contact screen gives our sales and counter staff the critical information they need to easily look at price history, substitute items and see items that are frequently bought together. Sales staff are now customer service experts, adding great value to every sale,” says Dan Banks, DDI’s Director of Sales.

Inform Connects 2017 also brought Steve Epner, a well-known distribution expert and lecturer at the University of Industrial Distribution, to discuss innovation in face of digital disruption. “Distributors must face the new competition and continuously look for innovative ways to communicate their point of difference. Greater customer engagement and the availability of online shopping tools all add to enhancing your clients buying experience”, Epner explains. For DDI System users, this means capitalizing on the strengths of the independent distributor. Industrial product expertise, strong customer relationships and an easily adoptable digital presence will be the deciding factors to achieve solid customer retention. “eCommerce needs to be part of the equation. Digital giants such as Amazon and eBay have educated customers how to search for information, shop and even purchase many items online. Distributors can no longer ignore the impact of this new education. They all need to maintain a digital presence with strong product content, and an easily adoptable customer portal with save shopping carts, customer specific pricing and 24/7 ordering capabilities.” says DDI Founder and President Adam Waller. Waller, who grew up in the distribution business adds “The Internet of Things wasn’t a fear for distributors years ago. The only thing you worried about was your customer taking their business to the guy down the street.”

After 25 years building technology for distributors, DDI System uses the information already maintained in a client’s Inform ERP software to fuel Inform eCommerce, a real-time, mobile optimized storefront and customer portal. “Inform eCommerce, harnesses your products, inventory, pricing and customer information into an easy-to- use, mobile responsive storefront. Inform ERP users can almost instantly have their own branded website that serves as a direct connection to the clients they serve every day. And, it’s available to them 24/7, from any device, serving the buyers’ new expectations,” expresses Waller.

The Inform eCommerce session (“Creating a Symphonic Customer Experience with eCommerce”) during Inform Connects 2017 brought some of the largest audience attendance and excitement. DDI continues to enhance their all-in- one ERP solution and drive interest in eCommerce for the modern distributor. “DDI eCommerce is unbelievable. The end result of what (DDI) did for me was incredible. 20% of orders are coming in online from customers, and growing,” says Howard Steirn from Riverside Paper Company, Inc. in Hialeah, FL. This type of impact has piqued the interest of long-time clients and prospects as DDI hones in on the message that “Your ERP Should Do More”.

“Inform Connects was an opportunity for our users to see the full breadth of their ERP system, including elements they are not currently using and companion products that can further drive growth. With the message ‘Your ERP Should Do More’, we truly believe that a robust system is the way to compete in today’s digital disruption. Inform goes beyond the basic necessities of delivering operational excellence to serve the new breed of extraordinarily empowered customers in an ever-changing competitive environment,” emphasizes DDI’s Director of Marketing, Jennifer Rosvally. “Inform Connects is a reflection of the desire to simply know more about the full potential in an ERP system. And DDI delivers that.”

Walking away from the conference, users have a better understanding of what is in store for the future of DDI. Adam Waller’s “Roadmap to Competitive Advantages” provided insight into the next 18 months of development projects. One of those projects, Distribution Center, will focus on the next level of Warehouse Management. “Distribution Center will have all the functionalities of our current WMS, but deliver more of what we’re hearing from customers including license plate tracking, tasks by user job, bin capacity management, split level receiving and picking and deep warehouse analytics reporting,” says Waller. “These capabilities only further accentuate the demands of today’s distributors for full control of their warehouses in the most highly efficient and accurate ways.”

Inform Connects will reconvene in 2018 in a location to be determined. For now, DDI continues to lead and strengthen a path many are just embarking on. “We believe what we bring to the table surpasses any competitor because the strength of our brand lies in the team we have dedicated to supporting every client, and it’s very personalized…just like the service level we encourage our clients to deliver,” emphasizes Jagoe.