How Instant Quote & Price Estimating Software Helps 3D Printing Service Businesses Compete12 January 2021
What if generating quotes for your 3D printing customers only took seconds instead of hours? What if your team didn’t have to worry about the correct pricing?
In such a perfectly automated environment, your potential customers receive their quotes as soon as they request them, which results in uninterrupted experience and higher conversion rates.
However, the reality for many 3D printing service businesses is quite the opposite.
In this article, we dive into the challenges 3D printing service bureaus face during the quotation process and explain how 3D print instant quote solutions can become your primary tools for driving sales efficiency and business growth.
7 common 3D printing quoting challenges
1. Acquiring new customers
For the majority of 3D printing service providers, attracting new customers and securing repeat business is a top priority.
Earning new clients or at least staying afloat has been particularly challenging with the outbreak of the pandemic.
Even though 3D printing has been extensively used during the pandemic times, many businesses reported revenue declines or even closed.
Successfully acquiring a new customer depends heavily on how you reach them.
While social media, email marketing and paid ads can help you to enhance your online presence, your website remains the key piece of the puzzle.
Is your website optimised to make it easier for people to order from you online?
Using your website to net more leads can make a big difference in your revenue numbers.
2. Improving service pricing
Developing a pricing structure for a 3D printing service can be tricky.
For some companies, their pricing strategy consists of copying those offered by their competitors or is simply focused on under-cutting others.
These approaches, however, are often risky because they don’t factor in the unique processes of your business.
Accurate pricing formula for 3D-printed parts and projects must take into account a lot of different aspects of the business (human/machine time, machine depreciation, software, facility cost), the size of the job and the unique part requirements.
The right pricing strategy has also to align with your business goals, whether these are to maximise profitability, ensure your business’ longevity, or grow your customer base.
3. Inefficient processing of lower value orders
Being able to efficiently process orders of different values is another challenge many 3D printing service providers face.
“We found that we were, for example, spending an equal amount of time processing a £10,000 order as we were on an order worth £50. We needed to find a way to better streamline the process for specific projects.”
Jonathan Warbrick, Business Development Manager, Graphite Additive Manufacturing
Service bureaus invest a significant amount of time on processing 3D printing orders and educating customers. With larger jobs, it’s easier to absorb those costs. Smaller orders often require a similar amount of attention, but provide much less revenue. In some cases, they cost more than they’re worth.
While lower volume jobs are still important, service providers should consider solutions that could help them handle these orders more efficiently.
4. Converting missed sales opportunities
Picture this scenario: you’ve had a long discussion with a client who requested a quote from you, so you spend some time putting it together and then send it to them. Even though you thought the conversation went well, it’s been a week and the client still hasn’t responded yet.
While you can always send them a follow-up email, having multiple clients to follow up with can make it easy for those emails to slip through the cracks, especially if you didn’t track the process.
5. Manual quoting eats up most of your team’s time
While the process of producing a quote is fairly straightforward, a significant amount of data must be collected from a potential customer to provide an accurate price estimate.
Collecting all of the necessary information can sometimes take a series of phone calls or back-and-forth emails.
Then, once a customer is ready to place an order, you’ll need additional information such as payment and shipping methods.
In a manual environment, much of this is handled with spreadsheets and other disparate software. It can create a lot of duplicate work and confusion as project managers attempt to move work through the facility and maintain communication with customers.
6. Manual pricing is inaccurate
While spreadsheets offer many benefits when calculating 3D printing costs, there are equal opportunities to overtype incorrect numbers or formulae, or incorrectly factor in numbers.
Though easily made and solved for, these mistakes are often uncovered after a quote has been submitted to the customer.
Even small spreadsheet mistakes can cost your company dollars, impacting overall profitability.
It’s therefore crucial to research solutions that can alleviate the manual entry required for quoting and reduce the risk for human error.
7. Long quote turnaround time
Time to quote is critical in winning new business and establishing strong customer relationships.
You can spend hours calculating costs and preparing quotes but if your competition responds faster or you don’t meet your customer’s urgency, you lose not only that order but the time you could have spent winning other customers.
If your business is chronically behind on responding to RFQs, then you may start to see a decline in profitability.
What can I do to overcome the challenges?
If some of the challenges described above are familiar to you, then it’s the right time to consider what automation can do to help your business succeed and grow.
One way to automate your business is by integrating an ordering platform into your website.
Such a platform offers your customers a self-service instant quotation portal, where they can upload their design files, choose from printing options set by you, receive automated price estimates in minutes and place orders.
By automating your 3D printing cost calculations and ordering, you unlock a range of benefits, from increased conversion to improved customer experience.
5 key benefits of instant quotation software to help you grow 3D printing business
1. Automate processes to drive more value
With the ordering portal, you can easily configure the software to your pricing model and include the information about your supported file types, machines, materials and finishing options.
The portal is then embedded into your website to enable customers to instantly quote and place orders for their 3D printing projects, automating much of the effort that was previously handled by people.
By providing quotes instantly and automatically rather than manually saves countless hours in the process and enables your team to allocate more time on pursuing new leads and growing your business.
2. Reach new customers and increase conversions
A customer-facing 3D printing ordering portal powered by instant quotation capability can make all the difference when it comes to reaching new customers.
Your potential customers not only prefer to shop online but will demand it. As 3D printing service buyers head online to find the best prices, your business can leverage the power of the search to locate new visitors to your ordering portal and convert them into customers.
3. Present accurate quotes to customers
There is no room for error when it comes to quoting a price for 3D-printed parts.
3D printing instant quote software not only eliminates errors in price quoting but also offers integrated STL file repair tools, which automatically fix models for successful printing.
This helps to ensure that you provide customers with better, more accurate quotes and verify their models for 3D printing faster.
4. Improve customer experience
Customers have grown accustomed to the perks of digital – 24/7 availability, simplified purchasing, up-to-date product information and transparent pricing.
A 3D printing ordering portal is designed to provide these benefits, and even more.
Adding an ordering portal, powered by instant pricing to your website, can reduce quote turnaround time from hours to minutes, helping you to build stronger customer relationships.
Order history empowers customers to keep track of their order status and simplifies reordering. [Image credit: AMFG]
Furthermore, customers are empowered to access their order history, tracking data and reordering options through the personalised dashboard.
This means they will have more control of the entire ordering process that not only enables efficiency and transparency but also eliminates the need of calling to talk to someone just to ask for an update of an order.
If they do need personal assistance though, you can also give them an option of requesting a manual quote.
5. Professionalise your brand
Finally, giving your customers an option to receive instant 3D printing quotes and order parts online makes your brand look and feel more professional.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback thanks to having the quoting tool on our website. Not only is it easy for customers to use and understand, but it solidifies the perception of Tridi Mx as a serious, professional business”
Sebastián Romo, Founder & CEO, Tridi MX
You can further solidify this impression by sending out attractive, professional order confirmation emails
3D printing ordering portal features to help you quote 3D prints faster and sell more
Below is the summary of the key functionality any advanced online ordering and price estimating software should have. Use it as a checklist when researching your instant quote and ordering solution for 3D printing.
✓ Branded ordering portal: Configure the portal to match your brand. Offer quotes in multiple languages and currencies.
✓ Advanced CAD analysis and integrated file repair: Ensure CAD files are suitable for 3D printing before an order is placed.
✓ Application activity tracking tool: Track customers who drop off in the RFQ process, follow up with them to win them back.
✓ Integrations: Sync the ordering portal with all major payment gateways, as well as internal software systems, including ERP and PLM.
Driving 3D printing business growth with instant quote tools
There has never been a more important time for 3D businesses to ensure business continuity by attracting new customers and maintaining the efficiency of operations.
One of the key solutions lies in providing your customers with an option of ordering from you online.
The ordering portal, embedded in your website and powered by 3D printing instant quote feature, can make your quoting process simpler, faster, and cheaper.
It empowers your company to convert more leads, ensure higher customer satisfaction and stay ahead of the competition – enabling you to focus on the fundamental task of growing your business.
Learn more about how AMFG’s Ordering Portal can help your 3D printing business improve the customer experience while reducing costs and generating more revenue
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