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Category : Zoho Creator

zoho for manufacturing and distribution

Zoho Issues: Solving Problems for Manufacturing & Distribution

In this article, we’ll look at how to solve business problems around three common issues we’ve seen impact others in your industry and share some ideas that have been successful for them. Zoho solves business problems for many types of businesses, but Distribution and Manufacturing by the nature of their industry are especially suited for the use of Zoho CRM and other Zoho applications.

You might spend time trying to solve for traveling work orders, time tracking, asset management, RMA and MRP requirements. If you’re encountering them, these problems can take up a lot of time and inhibit innovation.

You’d rather be focusing on hard numbers, actionable steps, and measurable KPI efforts like:

  • operating efficiency
  • utilizing capacity to the fullest extent
  • keeping a keen eye on profitability
  • working to ensure that your shipping is staying on time

These days you may also be looking for even more in-depth functionality in order to do more with existing resources, including redeploying talent, improving productivity, and shifting operations. Let’s take a closer look at three problems in manufacturing and distribution that Zoho can help you solve.

Crushing Lean Manufacturing Goals? We’ve Got Solutions!

Lean manufacturing goals with ZohoAs a decision maker in the manufacturing industry you need to introduce and foster ideas and methods to increase sales, manage orders and the warehouse, and more. You do all of this while trying to keep a pulse on the end-to-end tracking of your process, too.

Zoho Inventory helps here:

  • So you can manage inventory in multiple warehouses.
  • It integrates with Zoho CRM and Zoho Books to automatically sync contacts and your orders.
  • You get a few steps closer to the financial data you need, while addressing lean wastes of waiting and extra processing.

Zoho Inventory not cutting it? No sweat, tools like FieldTech have been produced for more robust ERP requirements using Zoho Creator for things like inventory management, and to optimize your production routing.

These ideas scratch the surface of the data you can access with the Zoho ecosystem.  How else could organized and actionable data provide information to help guide your lean manufacturing efforts as you solve business problems you encounter?

Problem 2: Forecasting for your business is a foggy endeavor

forecasting for distribution and manufacturingYou need visibility to what’s being produced, purchased – and when –  in order to make the best inventory management decisions. And if you can get the information in a tidy dashboard with less data input, even better!

Zoho Inventory provides data-driven insights to help you understand your customers in a meaningful way. You gain a more accurate forecasting for production material needs.

Add Zia’s prediction tool in Zoho CRM to take advantage of key business indicators such as the likelihood of a lead converting to a deal, revenue forecasts, and how likely a site visitor is to purchase. Zia predictions can be implemented for both standard and custom modules so your business can take advantage of this tool.

What predictors would be most meaningful for your organization?

Creating a prediction using Zia is relatively straightforward, but you can also work with a ZBrains Zoho Certified Consultant to get a head start on taking advantage of your data.

Finally, in addition to predictions, Zia also looks for trends. Using the data you have, Zia relies on past experiences to offer predictions. Receive alerts for spikes or dips without having to check on a dashboard daily. Decide if you want notifications about leads, contacts, deals, tasks, events, calls, email, or something different depending on the components you select for Zia to watch.

Having the power to forecast and even predict business events in distribution and manufacturing is essential to smooth operations.

Problem 3: You need solve business problems more quickly and spend more time on innovation

people meeting with laptopUntangling from daily business operations and on-the-fly problem solving in your organization can be a daunting undertaking. In other words, it’s time to start solving those issues more quickly. You want to resolve them completely so you have time to devote to innovation.

Naturally, this is where a business can cut even more of the lean wastes. They can spend money less on operations, and begin to excel. If you had the time, what innovation would you put into place immediately for your organization?

Having a plan to remain adaptable, and the visibility to metrics you need to communicate for success starts with information architecture. Zoho’s CRM and streamlined ERP solution to manage your inventory and orders, along with the multitude of possible integrations to fit your process is a great place to start your journey. Consider this change if you currently:

  • Pay for several systems wherein a change to one affects the others resulting in development expenses.
  • You manage multiple vendors, and spend a lot of time reiterating the same business needs and goals.
  • Your teams are working from siloed data.
  • Existing systems make global reporting cost-prohibitive and time consuming.

Start with a Zoho solution that gives end-to-end visibility to your organization. Quit struggling to track, report, and act on data. Finally start solving problems for good so you can achieve a better, leaner business.

Begin solving business problems for your manufacturing or distribution organizations with Zoho solutions.  Don’t put it off any longer, contact us for an assessment that’s geared specifically to your business – our ZBrains team of Zoho Certified Consultants are eager to help!

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Creative Thinking with Zoho

Zoho Applications: Creative Problem-Solving for Field Services

It’s essential to act on creative thinking to solve business problems and stay on top in field services and construction. Your industry might have standard KPIs and processes that “work for everyone.” However, as business owners and operators, we know it’s our job to ensure that we’re constantly innovating, improving, and making the most of the time available daily. That’s where Zoho Applications come in – with their innovative solutions for field services and construction, you can optimize your operations and streamline your processes to stay ahead of the competition.

As a result, how you work is almost guaranteed to change over time, and you’ll need to keep solving new problems. The beauty of Zoho CRM and all other Zoho applications available is that they allow for creative solutions to business problems.

This includes the data you capture and your Zoho systems, including what you’re doing with both to make your business profitable time and again. In this article, we’ll share four common business problems that we see Field Services and Construction firms encountering often. This includes everything from your deals and quoting to how to save time calculating commissions. And we will tell you some of the ways that Zoho applications provide a framework. You can ensure you’re staying on the edge of innovation and setting yourself apart from the competition, if that’s your goal.

Let’s take a look at some common business problems and which KPIs you can track in Zoho to stay on top:

Problem 1: Your scheduling and routing efficiency needs help

For Field Services businesses especially, the routing efficiency KPI is big, but consider scheduling, too. Are these tasks cumbersome and waste time that could be spent on the job? You might be asking and wondering:construction inside building

  • Are techs arriving at jobs on time?
  • Do you have the right person scheduled for the work they’re doing?
  • Is time wasted with crews making trips across town?
  • How much loss happens when an appointment cancels?
  • How much productivity – and profit – is lost with extra movement?

Making sure your business has a handle on routing efficiency measurements using geolocation can help you see where you can make up losses. But this is just the start. With the correct creative thinking to solve business problems and the right tools for the job, you can achieve gains in productivity.

The Zoho Scheduling App allows setting appointments based on sales rep calendar availability, location, skill level, or any other metric you define. The app also recognizes cancellations and can suggest appointments to fill cancellation gaps.  For use with a larger sales team, the Zoho Smart Scheduler  combines savings to positively impact revenue!

Problem 2: You’re losing deals because of a disconnect in quoting.

Do any of these sound true for you?

  • Updating product pricing, calculating, and then generating proposals takes forever and are prone for error.
  • Collecting necessary signatures for a job is a hassle.
  • Some of your products are missing descriptions or images in your system.
  • Customers don’t have a way to electronically approve your estimates.

This losing deals issue exists in a lot of businesses, not just construction and field services. However, when your project profitability, service level agreements, and customer satisfaction rely on accurate quotes, it’s paramount to start each job on the right foot.

Optimizations give you beautiful looking quotes, faster quote delivery, more accurate quoting, and an easier transition into creating  jobs. Assemble quotes with the click of a button when Zoho CRM is customized for your construction or field service business . The information required is stored in your CRM! That is: items details, photos, and any other information you require for each SKU. Integrate your Zoho quoting (CPQ) tool with an eSignature tool of your choice, and approval signatures become a breeze.

How much time would your staff save with this sort of integrated quoting and communication tool? Do you think a stronger – and quicker – quoting process would help you land more deals?

Problem 3: Calculating commissions is an overwhelming task

It’s time again for you to calculate commissions for your staff and your business has grown to a complexity that makes this task, well, overwhelming. For you and for your employees. They want to compare month-to-month earnings. You both want easy to access statements and to get this finished on time. Ideally, you envision all of this working in a single system to save you time and effort.

With creative thinking to solve this business problem, Zoho created the Zoho Commission Calculator. Saving time and making this process more straightforward, now you can focus on your next innovation to tackle. And your sales staff can back to what they do best – sales.

Problem 4: Job Costing and Time Tracking feel impossible to capture

With Zoho as your hub, tedious and often difficult tasks of job costing and time tracking are made simpler in FieldTech.  This app connects your field service operation and optimizes your workforce. The benefits are far-reaching in terms of your new ability to report on accurate data around these two specific tasks.

building construction exterior

And the result of accurate reporting? You receive a direct line to the improvement opportunities that exist in these daily operations.

Let’s take a look:

Time Tracking

When your techs arrive on the job, they can select from available work orders and log time against individual tasks assigned on those work orders. One feature that stands out here is geo-location that automatically clocks techs in when they arrive on site. They spend less time on data entry, and don’t miss this task.

Of course, time tracking data is visible to managers, and in reporting. Bottlenecks become easily identifiable, and you can act on them – whether that’s staff training or an innovation in process.

Job Costing

Does your job costing process currently take you between spreadsheets and several applications to find the full story and get answers you need? To find material, equipment, labor, and other direct costs is taking a lifetime. With FieldTech implementation you can see how profitable your jobs are right from a centralized dashboard.

Job Costing ties into time tracking, too:

    • See which of your field techs are doing the best/most efficient work.
    • Get granular and see time spent for a particular job against expected time.
    • Easily see gross profit and how it compares against other jobs.

Imagine being able to compare data from your jobs to find out which are most likely to be successful for your company when you start searching for new leads. Kick off your next marketing campaign armed with data from job costing.

This holistic company view, accompanied by accurate data gives you uncomplicated, actionable insights.

If you’re looking for ways to solve your business problems with the help of Zoho applications, we’re here to help. At ZBrains, our team of Zoho Certified Consultants is ready and eager to assist you with an assessment that’s tailored specifically to your business needs. Whether you’re in Field Services or Construction, we’ve got the expertise and creative thinking to help you find the best solutions. So don’t leave things to chance – get in touch with us today to see how we can help you optimize your business processes using Zoho applications.

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KPI's for your SaaS and Tech business

Maximizing Business Insights with KPIs for SaaS and Technology

In part three of this series for Technology and SaaS organizations, we ask you to consider – What are the top key performance indicators (KPI’s) for your industry? Are you successfully using KPI’s to manage your business? Do you track, report, and utilize this data on a regular basis, looking for improvement opportunities? 

There’s a good chance you’re living the same current reality as a lot of SaaS and Tech-focused businesses in 2020. You’ve been impacted by a global pandemic; it might look like slowing down, frequent starts and stops, lay-offs, and shifts in the How and What that have long been a focus. You might find yourself in a position to redefine or even re-invent aspects of your business. McKinsey and Co. recently published that redeploying talent, improving productivity, and shifting operations as three of five recommendations for reinventing your organization, post-Covid. We agree, and have done some of those things here at ZBrains.

If you’re reading, and you’ve already identified and are successfully using data to capture KPI data for business insight, we’d like to present you with a stretch goal as you read through the article. Think about the competitive advantage of your business, the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. 

  • What differentiates you? 
  • And are you able to measure it today? 
  • How would your business change if you could measure and act upon your differentiator? 

Perhaps the content in this article can help trigger some ideas for you.

Maybe your KPI’s are unknown or underutilized. If so, you might be losing out on opportunities to set you up for a better trajectory in an unstable environment. We recommend this article for examples of some Key Performance Indicators used in SaaS and Technology businesses. While there are many, many more than listed here, the KPI’s we share are more or less universal for each segment where they’re listed. We hope this helps to give you ideas about the other data you want to capture. (You may even want to bookmark this article for reference again later.)

Is Zoho the Key to Capturing and Reporting Business Data?

This all boils down to financials and time tracking each of the seemingly small areas of your business that add up to something sizable. Today, you might pay for  many platforms, applications or systems, and a change to one can affect the others. The result is, they require development expenses. Maybe you have to manage multiple vendors, or your teams are working from siloed data without a full view. Running reports and gaining visibility to your organization is solved with Zoho’s end-to-end solution. 

Quit struggling to track your KPI’s, and avoid the disparate systems of data that make global reporting cost-prohibitive and time consuming.

Keep reading for KPI’s by industry for technology and SaaS organizations, and some thoughts about how you can put them into action with Zoho.

Technology Industry KPI’s

You’re probably like a lot of tech companies: there is no shortage of data, and you generally have a lot of subject matter expertise close at hand. But have you put the most important pieces of data into focus when making business goals and plans? Align your KPI’s with your plan.

Big picture metrics are easy to capture using the Zoho suite of apps. From Survey, CRM, and Inventory you can get a full view of upcoming sales, successful deliveries, and satisfied customers in one ecosystem.

  • Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and is claimed to be correlated with revenue growth.” – Wikipedia on Net Promoter Score

  • Pipeline

Your marketing and sales pipeline and the metrics you can achieve from it are revenue indicators. This information in your pipeline can also tell you when to dive deeper into sales staff issues, help with ideal customer identification, and tell you if your leads are more likely to drop off during certain sales stages.

  • On-time Delivery

Process metrics like the on-time delivery KPI can tell you if operations are in good health. Potentially, it can be a lead measure for Customer Satisfaction. The information gathered in on-time delivery could also be an indicator of production resource viability. Or as a result, letting you know if it’s time to scale the team for greater production capacity.

Aside from these necessary and highlevel metrics, what are the metrics you’re having a hard time capturing? Zoho, because it’s almost endlessly customizable with the Creator app, helps create the features you need to ensure that data you need to capture to complete work is the function and data you get. Zoho Creator  puts the tools to innovate and improve your lot squarely into your hands.

SaaS Industry KPI’s

In your SaaS business, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success all impact revenue growth and profitability. As with the other industry discussed in this article, there are MANY more KPI’s that you can employ when you’re building an executive dashboard. However, the three here (plus one bonus KPI) are the ones we think are the most indispensable KPI’s to keep an eye on.

  • Customer Acquisition Cost

Total cost of sales and marketing divided by the number of deals closed will give you Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Why does it matter to you? Most SaaS companies rely on a large volume of smaller scale sales over a period of time to generate revenue. For this reason it is important to acquire leads and customers at a price that does not negatively impact revenue.

  • Monthly Recurring Revenue

Regardless of your subscription model, monthly recurring revenue as a KPI is foundational to your business. Take the total number of paying clients by the average revenue per customer to achieve this figure. Straightforward really, but if you have a lot of pricing variants, it can get sticky. (Bonus points if you can segment your recurring revenue by new vs existing clients.) Taking into account your known churn rate when looking at MRR could give you insight into whether or not it’s time to acquire more accounts.

  • Customer Lifetime Value

Lifetime value or LTV is commonly regarded as a “north star metric,” one that matters above all others when determining strategy and goals for a business. Managing the gap between your CAC and LTV are essential to success.

  • Churn Rate

Customer Churn is natural, but how will you identify when it’s too much? (SaaS industry average is said to be between 5-7% annually.) The outlay of cost (CAC) to acquire a new client is usually significantly greater than the cost of maintaining an existing customer. Therefore the lower your churn rate, the less you may have to invest in acquisition. You might also consider Churn Rate a lag indicator of customer satisfaction.

The four KPI’s shared here are a solid underpinning of the metrics we recommend for SaaS organizations. Naturally, Zoho allows you to capture and utilize more data. As we mentioned earlier, the Creator app can bring your vision to life.

Why should you care about using SaaS and Technology KPI’s to manage your business?

We’ll end with a quick summary of points to keep in mind as you determine which KPI’s to use in your business. Which KPI’s  are most important to you, and can you get your hands on the data for them? Here six key reasons we think you should consider using SaaS and Technology KPI’s to manage your business: 

  • KPI’s can offer early identification of issues (lead measures)
  • You get visibility to overall company health without a great outlay of executive time
  • Next, reference and use KPI’s as guidance for decision making and strategy
  • High level metrics make it easy to communicate business goals with your environment
  • They will help you become familiar with patterns in your organization
  • Finally, they can help you key in on the areas for necessary  performance improvements

If you’re taking the next steps to learn more about achieving more by using KPI’s to manage your Technology or SaaS business, contact us any time.

Looking for more about KPI’s? Read about Field Services and Construction or Manufacturing and Distribution.

Identify Operational Inefficiencies

Overcoming Operational Inefficiencies: How to Identify and Solve Them

As a business owner or operator, it’s important to you to be aware of operational inefficiencies. You want to cut them off at the start, and keep your business heading in the right direction. You’ll find a lot of business advice online; however, the goal of this article is to help you identify the areas to look for operational inefficiencies. We’ll offer some considerations for you in terms of addressing the gaps in data you might experience as the operator of your business.

Get to know some indicators that your efficiencies could be off track are found in the realms of Planning, Scheduling & Quality Control. For example:

  • You may feel as though you don’t have control of your resources, 
  • You don’t have visibility to planning and scheduling (or there is a lack of it) 
  • Projects don’t seem to be the quality you want for your business
  • KPI’s are falling flat

These areas of uncertainty can leave you in a position of being unsure which issues to tackle next.

Firstly, consider each of the four scenarios above and how they apply to your business. What do you think you’re losing out on each month, or each day by not having access to the data required to solve these issues? Naturally, you’ll prioritize your biggest information gaps, and tackle those first. But how much more productive could your business be if right now you could see detail that gives actionable insight on each of these key points of operational efficiency?

With the right operating system for your business, you gain this visibility and will be on your way to identifying inefficiency with ease. In some cases you may even be able to become aware of the triggers that cause operational inefficiencies.

How can my business identify and track operational efficiency?

You’re having trouble getting a complete story for your business. Day to day it feels like the various resources you use to gain insight are contradictory at best. When you dig in it feels like micromanaging. As a result, there doesn’t seem to be a good way to get all the business metrics you need in one place. Your resources are dispersed across systems, and few if any of those systems are talking to each other, much less reporting together.

Zoho One is an operating system for your business. Comprehensive, integrated and customizable, this platform with 40+ applications can eradicate the roadblocks you’ve become accustomed to experiencing. Resulting in fewer or no departmental silos, but tools for everyone in your organization from Sales and Marketing to HR, Finance, and Operations.

Here are a few of the tools for each area of business that will be capturing the operational data you need:

  • Sales tools like mobile CRM, email, Telephony, social selling tools, live chat, online meetings and team communication tools are a part of Zoho One. Additionally, there are tools for  business intelligence, quotes, orders, and invoices that you need to fortify sales operations.
  • Marketing tools offered are also robust and include website builder, A/B testing, analytics, goal tracking, personalization, and multi-channel marketing applications. Wrap it up with marketing automation, reporting, and trackable KPI & ROI data.
  • Customer support is a lifeline for your customers in many cases. Zoho One tools like email, phone, social support (ticketing), live chat, self-service resources, remote assistance give many channels for communicating with your team. Additionally, bigger picture tools include support process automation, business intelligence, AI, CRM, and team communication tools. All this for an improved customer experience and the data you’re looking for. 

Don’t forget HR, Accounting, and Operations

  • HR Tools keep business running with solutions for talent acquisition, onboard, training, policy creation, resource management, and communications tools contributing to a culture of collaboration.
  • Accounting & Finance 
    • Receivables tracking: estimates, invoices, payments, and transaction matching.
    • Payables & Expenses: purchase orders, expense management, mileage tracking for reimbursement, and time tracking for projects.
    • Additional solutions include subscription management, recurring billing, and hosted pricing pages. 
  • Operations Tools consist of order fulfillment, service deployment, order management, multi-channel selling, warehouse management, project-based billing, and project management. Siloed communications are solved with the internal social network. Moreover, you can bridge with Sales & Customer Support teams using the customer portal. 

For any process or system not addressed, Zoho has tools to develop custom apps for web and mobile. And it offers integrations for greater business intelligence!

What is the solution to operational inefficiencies? 

With Zoho One, you’ll have your business situated in an ecosystem with a single sign on. For instance, this makes it simpler as an owner or manager to have complete control over business data. This includes identifying and addressing the Planning, Scheduling & Quality Control operational inefficiencies we mentioned at the start of the article.

In other words,  you can do it all within one ecosystem that utilizes the apps we just outlined.

Zoho One currently contains over 40 applications, all integrated. Firstly, they operate on the same platform so customization is generally more straightforward. Reporting on the business data you need to ensure efficiency in your operations is readily accessible. Additionally, only individuals you choose can access programs containing sensitive data, ensuring the information stays in the right hands.

If you’re looking for something that you can’t find in Zoho One, Zoho Creator is the low-code platform for creating your custom application. You can utilize it either on your own or with help from a Zoho Certified Consultant

Intriguing, you might be thinking. But all of that sounds too expensive and like quite an undertaking – it just doesn’t have to be with the right partner. ZBrains certified consultants have assisted clients since 2012. Above all, our speciality is value rewarding Zoho implementations and customizations so you don’t have to go it alone.

If you’re taking the next steps to learn more about squashing operational inefficiencies with Zoho One, contact us any time.

Zoho Commission Calculator Webinar – Thursday, June 6th!

Simplify payroll – Pay employees effortlessly

Our in-depth webinar on the Zoho commission app shows you just what you can do

commission calculator webinar

It’s a shame that after all the hard work you can do in building and improving different facets of your business – whether through optimizing sales processes, increasing efficiency in operations or fulfillment, or making sure you retain the clients you worked so hard to earn – employee payments tend to be one of the most overlooked, and most inefficient parts of a company.  Of course, everyone you employ gets paid.  Maybe you even get everyone paid on time, every time.  But, how much time do you spent calculating payments or doing manual work to prepare payments so you can be on time?

If you have a complicated commission structure, chances are you spend a lot of time doing just that.  Maybe you even have someone who works full-time doing that for you!

Now, we aren’t in the business of putting people out of work, but we do like to help people better their businesses, and that includes making processes more efficient – including commission calculation. To that end, we’ve developed commission calculation software on Zoho Creator that helps do just that.

We’ll be demoing the commission calculator and going through all its various features during a Live Commission Calculator Webinar on June 6th at 10 AM PDT.  

What’s so hot about this particular commission calculator webinar?

Aside from the fact that we built this app on Zoho Creator (so it integrates with Zoho CRM and other programs), this commission app is part of a software suite called FieldTech.  FieldTech is a software bundle built on Zoho that improves the functionality of Zoho, especially for service, construction, and manufacturing/distribution companies.  You don’t have to use all of FieldTech to use this commission calculator.  But, if you need to, the option is there – and we consider it a great “gateway” to the FieldTech suite, for those looking to refresh and optimize their business software suite.

Some features we’ll be going over in the webinar:

  • Calculating commission based on a fixed amount, revenue amount, or profit margin
  • Spiffs and incentives
  • Splitting commission between multiple reps or teams
  • Commission overrides
  • Commission approvals
  • Clawbacks or credits for refunds
  • Sales rep portal for up-to-the-minute commission totals
  • Emailed commission statements
  • Integration with Zoho CRM
  • Integration with Zoho Finance

commission calculator webinar

Stay right there for the Q&A session after the walkthrough!

After we show the features of the commission calculator, we’ll be answering any questions you have about the app.  Stay tuned in so you can ask us questions about the app, as well as listen to others ask questions of their own.

Thank you for stopping by this post.

Zoho Creator Record Templates

Personalize Apps with Zoho Creator Record Templates

When you think of Zoho, you undoubtedly think of a few different words or phrases.  One of those is very likely “customizable.” When you use Zoho, you know you have all sorts of options for customizing all the apps in the suite.  Following that tradition, Zoho has brought customization to record templates in Zoho Creator, so you can customize even more of your experience – or, in this case, your customers’ experience.

zoho creator record templates

Custom Record Templates in Zoho Creator? What for?

Zoho Creator record templates behave pretty similarly to Zoho CRM custom inventory templates.  Those custom templates allow you to customize what your customer sees when you send them an invoice, for example.  You may track all sorts of information related to your invoice in the CRM – but, how that invoice appears to your customer is very much up to you.  Place information exactly where you want it on your template with merge fields in Zoho Creator, just like you would on inventory templates in Zoho CRM.

But, wait. Why use Zoho Creator for this stuff at all?

It’s a common question: Zoho has so many different ways of doing nearly anything.  Why use Zoho Creator to create these record templates when you could just use the CRM?

You’ll want to use Zoho Creator when you have particular business needs that standard Zoho apps won’t meet.  Creator can be customized much more heavily than even very malleable Zoho apps, so the possibilities for your custom app are far greater.  At the end of the day, you’ll likely store some data in the Zoho Creator app instead of a standard app like Zoho CRM.  Zoho Creator record templates provide a way to act on the data in that system so you don’t have to transfer it to the CRM first.

Sound confusing?  We hope not – but if so, just ask us and we can walk you through it.

zoho creator record templates

Create all kinds of record templates

The possibilities are endless; here are just a few you could use in your own apps:

  • Estimates or custom quotes
  • Brochures, catalogs, or sell sheets
  • Certificates
  • Newsletters or campaign emails
  • Name tags

These templates will all be tied to different record types.  For example, you may keep records in your Zoho Creator app called Estimates, Brochures, Certificates, or Newsletters.  The templates you design will allow you to customize how each of these records look.

Starting is a cinch!

Creating your own Zoho Creator record templates or modifying pre-built templates is easy:

  1. Navigate to your Creator app Settings menu and select Record Templates.  
  2. Click the New Template button, where you’ll choose between modifying a pre-designed record template, or creating a brand new template you can mark up as needed.

The drag-and-drop interface makes creating or editing record templates simple.  And, if you’re somewhat code-savvy, you can even drop HTML into the templates. Then your record templates are ready to use.

Once you’ve created and distributed records as needed using the record templates, you or your customers can print or export individual records as PDFs (just like inventory templates or emails) using special Zoho Creator URLs.

zoho creator record templates

The hits keep coming

With Zoho, the world really is your oyster – and this new feature in Zoho Creator reinforces that notion, making Creator an even more versatile platform on which to build custom applications.  There’s a lot you can do with Zoho Creator; in fact, we’ve even built our own vertical software for field services and construction companies on it.

In a bind? Contact us!

Let us know if you need any help architecting your own custom app – or just need help with Zoho Creator record templates – and we’ll plan it all out with you.  We can even build it for you if you so choose.

Boost Website Conversion Rates with Zoho’s eCommerce Quoting Tool

Enhance Website Conversions with Zoho eCommerce Quoting

Or, “How do you get more sales? I’ll let you know in a micro-moment.”

Get comfortable!  This is a 10-15 minute read.

zoho ecommerce quoting

It’s no secret people are spending more time online than ever before.  And, that number is only set to increase as the years go by.  You’ve spent time and money researching the best way to position your brand so it’s accessible online–and, you’ve spent an equal amount of time designing your website so it’s easy for customers to navigate.  But today, customers are bombarded with so much content, it leads to a sort of paralysis if they don’t like something about their shopping experience.  And, this leads to abandoned shopping carts galore.  As a Zoho user with an online webstore, how can you use Zoho eCommerce to help your case?

(Quickly, before we go too far down the rabbit hole: Zoho has recently pushed out an eCommerce app called Zoho Commerce.  This post is not about that app!  We may cover it later, but as the app is still fairly new, we’ll want to wait to give you something more substantial on it later.  Instead, this post is about designing your company’s website–your customer’s experience–to increase conversion rates, all while using what Zoho already provides, and with a little additional help from us at ZBrains.)

As usual, I’m not going to simply present you with a concept and hope you understand it.  It’s important to give a bit of background on the issues at hand before we dive into a solution.  So, strap yourself in and let’s get started.

Just in case: What does a Zoho eCommerce Quoting Tool do for you?

zoho ecommerce quoting

When businesses sell products that are very complicated and customized, for which SKUs don’t exist, those businesses typically endure a pretty painful quoting process.  Not painful as in difficult–more tedious and time-consuming. And, why isn’t it easy to just spit out a quote? Let me tell you just a few potential reasons:

  1. Logic doesn’t exist to produce a quote on-the-fly.  Instead, the info has to be emailed to someone, who then crunches the numbers themselves, puts the info onto a formal document, then sends it to the prospective customer manually.
  2. Pictures of the item(s) in question don’t exist on the website because they’re custom products.  Rather, the pictures have to be rendered individually and then sent back with the quote.  Or, they can’t be rendered at all, so that part of the quote simply doesn’t exist.
  3. Info about pricing is spread across departments.  For that reason, a salesperson needs to consult someone in the production department to figure out how to assemble a quote.

And, I’m sure you can think of other reasons why the typical custom quoting process is slow and painful.  That’s why CPQ software is becoming more and more popular!

Now, let’s put this idea of quoting software into the present day.

Think You Have a Captive Audience?  Well, Not Anymore!

zoho ecommerce quoting

In the age of online shopping, capturing your attention is the name of the game.  From big, colorful banners, to auto-emails, to push notifications, to “Wait! Before you go…!” all vying for your eyes, that much is perfectly clear.  And, it seems if you don’t play your cards right, you could lose your customers’ attention as quickly as you garnered it.  

See, customers browsing the web are poked with all kinds of stimuli as they look at your page.  If you don’t provide it too, customers’ attention wanes and you’re left with an abandoned cart.  These miniature stimulations of your audience as you lead them through your buying funnel have been dubbed “micro-moments.”  

Just think: Every banner, picture placement, headline, review, and call to action on a well-designed site has been perfectly placed by a company to in effect read your mind and make you want to buy products or services, and make the most of all the micro-moments you spend on that company’s website.  Don’t feel too self-conscious, now.

When in Rome…

The thing about these micro-moments is that everyone uses them to market to their customers nowadays, all the way down the marketing funnel.  This isn’t some new-age flash in the pan – Google even has a section on their business content arm devoted to it.

How does this all pertain to Zoho?  And, to you as a business owner?

Of course, this isn’t a general business consulting website, and, while you may wish to go ham and optimize your entire website to delight all your customers, we aren’t so prepared to give you mountains of advice pertaining to all of that.  But, we’re going to stick to one specific micro-moment you can manage.  That’s your customer-facing quoting process.

Why Optimize your Zoho eCommerce Site for Quoting?

The short answer: Because you too can profit from “hacking” people’s subconscious minds and making them want to buy from you!

And, ZBrains offers a tool that can help you do that – just by having it available on your website.  Enter the Zoho eCommerce integration for quoting.  This tool helps you in three distinct ways.

#1. Takes advantage of people’s visual nature

zoho ecommerce quoting

If you sell a product that’s pretty customizable, you may want to consult your customer directly before they cut you a check.  They’ll probably want to get to know you a bit, too, if they’re a new customer. That’s all pretty regular. But, people are already very visual creatures (why do you think Google prefers image- and video-rich pages over pages with just text?), and a study shows that the newest generation of consumers highly prefers buying visual content over any other kind of content.

Car companies already know this trick.  Just think of when you visit the website of a car manufacturer: many of them offer detailed pictures of each model sold.  The very best quoting engines even have ways to customize the look of the cars on the fly, so you can see exactly what your purchase would look like.

So, how do you get your website to do that?

You have an option in the Zoho eCommerce integration for quoting.  We developed the Zoho quoting tool especially for situations just like this, where you offer a product with many possible customizations, and you want to give your customers a visual representation of what they’re buying.

Sure, you’ll still want to get to know them and confirm their purchase before they buy.  Or, maybe they won’t click “Buy” at all, and will instead have a consulting call with you to iron out details.  But regardless, letting your customers see the products they’re planning to buy beforehand will give them the confidence they need to complete the purchase, ultimately.

#2. Gives instant gratification–to your customers and to you

[caption id="attachment_3583" align="alignleft" width="400"]zoho ecommerce quoting Okay, maybe not this instant. But close.[/caption]

Even the thought of younger people today wanting instant gratification may have turned into a meme at this point.  But, that doesn’t make it any less true.  And, the more people can find things easily using their handheld pocket computers that double as phones, the more that sentiment will prevail.

The very nature of your Zoho eCommerce site, when equipped with a powerful CPQ tool, will support that idea.  Even without a visual aspect, letting your customer select all the various options they want for a particular product of yours – and then letting them see how each option affects the final price – carries so much more weight than a simple “Call us for a consultation.”  

If you can express your pricing with business logic, why not express it in a Zoho CRM quoting app?  And, following that, why not use a Zoho eCommerce integration to put that app directly onto your website, to feed back into the CRM?  The Zoho CPQ tool does just that, giving both your customers and you the information you need to perform your next actions.

#3. It’s mobile-friendly

zoho ecommerce quoting mobile

While conversions from traffic on a desktop computer still reign supreme, mobile traffic continues to grow and grow, year over year.  We may be able to infer from this data that although the majority will ultimately make purchases on desktop computers, people might still give your products preliminary glances on their mobile devices–then return to their desktops to make official purchases.  Eventually, we’ll reach a point where mobile buying confidence eclipses desktop buying confidence.

In that light, the Zoho eCommerce quoting app is already mobile-optimized by default.  All we need to do at ZBrains is customize the tool for you based on your business processes.  The tool will behave the same way on a mobile device as it does on a desktop computer.  And, it will give your customers the same information, either way.

How about Zoho CRM quotes?

So, now we know what a Zoho eCommerce quoting solution can do for you, and why CPQ software in general is helpful.  That’s one thing. But, a Zoho quoting tool that can connect to your website and connect to Zoho CRM?  That’s even better. That’s why I think you’ll be pleased that you can use the aforementioned Zoho eCommerce tool inside Zoho CRM to create your Zoho CRM quotes.

zoho ecommerce quoting

I won’t go into a whole song and dance about this subject, as we’ve covered it in depth before.  But, in case you aren’t familiar, creating quotes directly in your CRM with this quoting tool provides value in a few different ways:

  1. Gives your salespeople the exact info they need to assemble a quote for customers themselves.  That means no more shuffling around between departments to get proper quoting formulas, pictures of items, and the like.
  2. Gives you an audit trail for quotes.  When salespeople use their own spreadsheets to put quotes together, you don’t have any insight as to how or when they arrived at their numbers if there’s ever a problem.  Putting quotes together in Zoho CRM gives you direct insight into your every salesperson’s quoting process.
  3. Cuts down on licensing costs.  You may have solved points 1 and 2 with an outside quoting system.  But, keeping everything on Zoho helps the pocketbook like nothing else!  Zoho Creator licensing costs, especially when combined with other Zoho licensing with the Zoho One package, tend to be quite inexpensive.
  4. Integrates with Zoho Books.  One of the very worst things about having separate software for quoting and finance is reconciling quotes with actual work orders or sales orders at the end of the day.  By quoting through the CRM, quotes flow automatically into Zoho Books as estimates. And by the way, this same principle applies to Zoho eCommerce quotes.

When it comes to Zoho CRM eCommerce and Quotes, don’t be afraid

zoho ecommerce quoting consultation

Diving into a mountain of statistics and reports and trying to relate that to building some kind of initiative for changing your quoting process isn’t always the easiest thing.  And, maybe this exposé on eCommerce trends and quoting tools left you with even more questions than answers (though I certainly hope not).  

If you’re looking for a helping hand to guide you through the chaos of setting up a quoting tool for your CRM system, our Zoho CRM consulting can help.  If you need a Zoho eCommerce tool, something customer-facing, to help make their experience better, that’s perfect.  And, if you need something for your salespeople to help them put quotes together for prospective clients, that’s also great.  You can use the same tool to do both jobs! And, we can help you.

Please let us know you visited by contacting us!  Or, use the button just below this text, and we’ll be back in touch in 24 hours.

Why do business owners need a CRM?

Why Do Business Owners Need a CRM?

What is CRM? A way to Save Time, Money, and Gain Functionality

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Unfortunately, that phrase fails to address which way is best. Over time, business owners have found countless ways to run their companies, using a various combination of roles, software, and automations to increase their bottom line. In the end, business owners often fail to optimize their strategy for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they figure they don’t have the time to optimize. Maybe they are set in their ways and are not open to change. This leads us to the question:

‘What are the benefits of CRM?’

As you can expect, our answer is multi-faceted. Put simply, a CRM (customer relationship management software) benefits a business by saving time, saving money, and adding functionality to it. Read on to learn about all the ways a CRM can benefit your business in the short and long term:

Organize Data and Prioritize Efforts

A solid CRM organizes your effortsBusinesses of multiple industries can benefit from CRM software. The simple act of organizing data into one centralized location will tremendously help you, your employees, and your overall process. In essence, the more you know about your customers the better you can serve them. Imagine arming yourself with knowledge of all their pain points, their inefficiencies, and archaic practices. Your employees can readily retrieve any and all information about each client, including purchases, preferences, and all other pertinent details.

CRM Software Helps You Gain Visibility

When you nurture a better understanding of your customer needs and behaviors you are better equipped to identify the correct time to promote your product. In this way you give yourself the best possible chance at increasing your revenue. Solid CRM software helps you achieve this better understanding, to the benefit of your entire team. If you are interested in learning more about Zoho CRM and how it can help your business our team of Zoho Consultants is more than happy to help!

Automate and Optimize

We live in a world that is more automated by the day, and it behooves you to follow suit to survive. Fortunately a CRM is the perfect tool for establishing multiple useful automations. It is especially useful for automating all the smaller tasks associated with a sale. Your team will appreciate the automated forms, reports, and follow-ups, taking these burdens off their collective shoulders. Furthermore, this allows them to devote more time to closing deals, resolving customer pain points, and upselling when appropriate.

Zoho CRM Integration with Other Applications

Ultimately, the integrations we’ve created for Zoho CRM make the software that much more valuable. From QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online and Sage Intacct to Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and a host of other integrations, there is a growing list of useful integrations that are bound to make your life easier.

Whether you are a veteran of CRM software, or a complete rookie, learning Zoho CRM can be a daunting task. Luckily, the ZBrains team is here to help! Take advantage of our Zoho CRM Training and enjoy 90 minutes of private training on Zoho CRM and all the applications that connect to it.

The Decline of Sage 100

What to Do When Looking to Transition Off Sage 100

The Decline of Sage 100

migrate off sage 100

Sage 100 has been on the forefront of accounting software for over three decades. But the unfortunate truth is that Sage Group is coming out of one of its most brutal years to date. For years Sage has worn their perceived “boring” company label as a badge of honor. Until recently they were one of two firms on the London Stock Market that achieved 10 years of uninterrupted earnings per share growth. A slow start in January 2018 coupled with a profit warning mere months later have spelled the beginning of the end for the once dominant Sage 100.

Reasons for the DeclineBut what they may not know is that we at ZBrains offer Zoho ERP software that can do both of those things.

It took many years for the decline to really manifest, but longtime users of Sage probably could have seen the writing on the wall.  Sage took the plunge into cloud-based software relatively late in 2016 with Sage Live (now called Sage Business Cloud Financials), and, like relative newcomer QuickBooks Online, Sage Live did not have nearly the feature library as did its on-premise brethren.  It was simply a case of too little, too late.  Sage’s bread and butter was and still is this on-premise software, and once the last users migrate away, Sage won’t have much to show for their efforts over the years.

The decline of Sage likely has many long-term Sage users wondering: now what? Fortunately, Zoho Corporation entered the cloud-based software game years before Sage did, all the way back in 2005 (with a rival to the Microsoft Office Suite; Zoho CRM was launched in 2006).  For that reason, Zoho has had much more time to build out their list of features, expand their applications, and offer a piece of software that can hold its own against many other cloud-based – and even on-premise – accounting systems.  Zoho Books, Zoho’s accounting system, offers a host of great features to meet your basic and advanced accounting needs. The following is a road map to help you know your options when looking to transition off Sage 100 and onto something a bit more modern.

The Zoho Advantage

Zoho Books has multiple significant advantages over its Sage 100 competitor (which we discussed in our Zoho Books vs Sage 100 comparison). The Zoho accounting software is easy-to-use, inexpensive, and cloud-based. Though it may not be capable of handling Payroll in all US states just yet, Gusto is a viable option. Moreover, the built-in API makes Gusto an alternative we can integrate with. (Currently Zoho only handles Payroll processing in California, Texas, and Indiana).

What’s more, Zoho offers greater mobility, with a corresponding mobile app for each of its applications, including Zoho Books. Zoho Books can also handle multiple currencies, a feature that Sage 100 lacks, at least without the help of an expensive upgrade. Plus, perhaps the most significant benefit of the Zoho suite of applications is its inexpensive nature, especially in comparison to Sage 100. The bottom line is that with Zoho you get the valuable combination of saving money and gaining functionality. It’s a win-win that is hard to beat!

ZBrains Answers to Common Questions

Seasoned users of Sage 100 know that it can handle Work Orders and Material Resource Planning (MRP), while Zoho cannot. But what they may not know is that we at ZBrains offer Zoho ERP software that can do both of those things. This means you can manage them via Zoho without breaking a sweat.

Some users of Sage may be concerned about Zoho’s lack of fixed asset depreciation functionality. But the fact is that most small and medium-sized businesses simply send their fixed asset depreciation information to their CPA. Maybe you utilize your own fixed asset depreciation software, in which case you can continue to use it because of Zoho’s shortcomings in this regard.

Next Steps

Ultimately, Zoho has a full arsenal of applications to help in your transition from Sage 100, whether you choose to do so now or later. (Learn more about what others are saying about Sage 100 here)

migrate off sage 100

Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, and Zoho Creator all provide the same functionality lost when switching off Sage, at a fraction of the price. 

Still not convinced? Contact our Zoho consulting team to learn more and discover all of the top notch functionality of Zoho, in an effort to land on the answer to the eternal question: What can Zoho do for you?

Our teams would be glad to help you as you make this decision. Contact us any time!

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The Joys of Using TaxJar are numerous, a fact which every accountant can get behind.

TaxJar Reviews: The Benefits of Using TaxJar Part 2

Establishing Nexus and Complying with State, Local, and County Tax Laws

In Part 1 we covered why you should want TaxJar, how the ZBrains CPQ tool integrates with TaxJar, and who TaxJar is for. Join us as we move towards a greater understanding of TaxJar:

When it comes to calculating your taxes and taking advantage of the joys of using TaxJar, tax nexus is vital. Determining nexus is an important element of tax compliance, and how you establish nexus can vary from state to state. Most definitions of nexus include the terms “doing business” or “engaged in business.” This blog details all the specifics regarding the various state laws.

The significant questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I have a location, warehouse, or other physical presence in a state?
  2. Do I have an employee, contractor, sales person, installer, or someone else working for me in a state?
  3. Do I have products stored in a state?
  4. Do my sales or number of transactions in a state exceed that state’s economic nexus threshold?
  5. Do I have a drop shipping relationship with a vendor in a state?
  6. Do I have an affiliate program with affiliates in various states?
  7. Do I cross state lines to sell my products at a trade show, craft fair, or other event?

Of note are the most common items that may not be taxable in some states:

-Grocery food


-Certain books (textbooks, religious books, etc.)

-Prescription and nonprescription medicine


-Magazines and subscriptions

-Digital products (books, music, movies, etc.)

Other Noteworthy Tax Nexus Issues

Once nexus is established it is crucial to do these three things:

-Register for a sales tax permit in that state

-Charge sales tax to customers in that state (regardless of how you sold them a product, or from where that product was shipped)

-File sales tax returns in that state

Perhaps the most obvious hurdle is the variability among state laws. For example, if you do not use TaxJar and have nexus in multiple states, you are forced to research the laws for each state on your own. This process can be tedious, especially when considering state, local, and county tax differences. Given all of this, the TaxJar automation of sales tax computation is truly an invaluable resource.

*Sometimes an identical product may be taxable in one state and non-taxable in another. A product may also not be taxable at the state level, but still taxable at the local level. *

Drop Ship, Ship Direct, and Multiple Warehouses with TaxJar

There are a few important scenarios to address when it comes to tax compliance. Drop shipping occurs when you use a vendor to ship an item directly to a customer. For example: you sell phone cases through your website and use a third party printing company to print designs on the cases before they are shipped to the customer.

Three things happen in this process: the customer buys the item from you, you buy the item from the vendor, and the vendor ships it to the customer. If your vendor has nexus in your state they must charge you sales tax on that purchase, unless you issue a resale certificate! The resale certificate indicates that the item you bought is for resale. This is where it can be complicated: you may be required to charge sales tax to your customer, and concurrently your vendor may need to charge sales tax to you.

Conversely, when shipping directly to the customer, you simply have to determine the sales tax in the buyer’s ship-to address.

Last but not least is the multiple warehouses scenario, which dictates that you must charge sales tax to buyers living in every state where your inventory is warehoused. A great example where this law may be overlooked is when sellers put their products Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). It is easy to forget that you need to charge sales tax for buyers living in each state that your goods are warehoused through Amazon FBA.

API and Customer Service

One beauty of TaxJar is the SmartCalcs Sales Tax service, which is very easy to utilize using modern restful APIs. Once integrated, it can easily determine if, when, and how much sales tax to collect. Collect the right tax amount every time you sell a product! It also makes sales tax reporting and filing easier for you or your merchants. The SmartCalcs Sales Tax service is clearly one of the best joys of using TaxJar.

The New Kid on the Block: Economic Nexus

As of June 21, 2018, a new law went into effect: Economic Nexus. This nexus law requires that sellers collect sales tax in a state because:

-They make a certain dollar amount of sales in that state (most common threshold is $100,000 per year)

-Have a certain number of sales transactions in that state (most common is 200 per year)

Approximately half of the states with a sales tax have economic nexus laws, and more states have announced they will soon also pass economic nexus laws or regulations.

The Shortcomings of TaxJar

Although this blog explores the joys of using TaxJar, we would be remiss if we did not mention any of the problems. Despite all of the areas in which it excels, there are some caveats. Most notable is that it is not very flexible. The good news is that within Zoho Creator, you can perform your tax reporting without going to TaxJar. From drag and drop reporting and ad hoc reports to all the transactions in Creator, the bottom line is that it is easier to use than TaxJar. Simply use TaxJar to acquire accurate percentages, and then store that data back in Zoho Creator to generate your own reports.

Whether you are trying to determine tax nexus or simplify your tax compliance process, TaxJar can get you there. Explore this handy software for yourself and ensure you calculate your taxes with accuracy.

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