Following the news that Portal and ProSource would partner to dynamically improve the experience of the buying groups exclusive distributor, Expert Warehouse, VP of Dealer Happiness Josh Willits took the time to clear up a few questions we at Technology Integrator had.
Portal has made waves since their Portal Select launch earlier this year, an Amazon-inspired, B2B proposal and purchasing tool enabled dealers to minimize the friction between finding products and getting them in a house. By offering 1.5 million SKU's, a robust online interface, and cash back incentives on products, Portal has solidified their position in the CI industry.
Technology Integrator: How does the ordering process work/ is it different from ProSource members old way? Are ProSource members going through Expert Warehouse as normal?
Josh Willits: Before Portal, ProSource dealers would access Expert Warehouse through a separate web login to find product information and place orders. They can still do this. However, many dealers prefer the convenience that Portal offers as we bring all their suppliers into one place. Until the partnership, our data team was working with individual dealers to manually load and keep Expert Warehouse pricing and availability up-to-date. It was very time consuming for us and the dealer. With the partnership, we now get a data feed directly from Expert Warehouse with all the price columns and individual brand authorizations. What’s also nice is that Expert Warehouse products can now be added directly to proposals and those proposals can be converted into purchase orders. This is not possible when dealers are required to go to a separate website.
TI: Am I correct to assume you are warehousing data from these orders and if so, are you sharing any data with ProSource?
JW: We have no data sharing arrangement with ProSource. The orders still get delivered directly to Expert Warehouse, so there is no unique information we have that ProSource or Expert Warehouse wouldn’t already have access to.
TI: How did this deal emerge? How did ProSource land this partnership instead of other buying groups?
JW: Simply put, the members wanted this deal to happen. ProSource is unique in that it is a member-owned group, so they can make democratic decisions. Many of their dealers were already using Portal so they decided it made sense to improve our working relationship.
We don’t discriminate, we are an open platform that any organization in our industry can join. There was no choice between ProSource or other buying groups. The reason ProSource partnered with us first is, again, because their dealers make the decisions. This allows them to move fast when there is consensus within the group.
TI: Any other comments about the partnership that is important from your end?
JW: ProSource represents some of the best and brightest companies, not only in the custom channel but in the consumer electronics industry in general - within their dealer base as well as their brands. It’s been exciting for us to see our vision for the industry realized, and to have top-tier organizations like ProSource join us on the journey.