In today’s digital landscape, user experience drives purchasing behavior more than almost any other factor. “Focusing on customer experience management (CXM) may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate (Forbes)." A good UX for modern buyers includes fast, accurate, and personalized buying experiences. We’ve learned that the first offer has a greater chance of being accepted, and that six of ten buyers are likely to switch to a vendor that offers a better digital purchasing experience including personalized, real-time, dynamically updated pricing (Hanover Research Study of 210 Global Purchasing Professionals, commissioned by PROS).
Speed and accuracy matter to buyers and revenue growth depends on whether a business can meet this demand for the best user experience. Many businesses are losing ground to competitors who can deliver.
To compete, many are turning to price optimization and management (PO&M) technology to drive a dynamic pricing strategy and provide customers accurate pricing quickly.
When choosing PO&M software, two features are critical if you want to meet the buyer’s demands: availability and performance. But what do these features mean and how do businesses ensure their vendor will provide them?
The Four Nines: Why Availability Matters
Availability is measured by uptime, which is the amount of time a software is online and running. Technology providers may guarantee a certain amount of uptime in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) expressed by the ratio of uptime to downtime within a year, as a percentage. Downtime can be defined in several ways, but most commonly refers to unscheduled maintenance or issues where the technology is no longer accessible. Many technology companies tout their SLAs in marketing materials and throughout the sales cycle but don’t contractually guarantee them. This means that if you experience more downtime than anticipated, the company will do nothing to make up for the problem. Choosing a technology that is backed by contractual guarantees is a critical consideration when selecting a pricing technology.
The industry standard for uptime is 99.99%, often referred to as “four nines” and translates to 52.6 minutes of unplanned downtime in a year. The chart below illustrates various uptime ratios and the impact they have on your business- small changes in percentages cause big impacts in downtime.
(Source: Uptime Percentage Chart | Jack Stromberg)
Your software’s availability has a direct impact on your bottom line: you need a service provider whose uptime guarantees are acceptable to you, so your business operations are never disrupted. Not only is it important that your pricing technology has industry-leading uptime, but it is also critical that there is operational rigor around system performance. And ideally downtime is planned: unplanned downtime could cost your business. So, in your evaluation process be sure to ask your vendors what they do when unexpected downtime occurs and what may cause it. Ensure that the uptime they are promising you is explicitly stated in your service level agreements (SLAs) so that you can hold the vendor accountable for the promises it sells.
Performance is Critical When You Have Millions of Transactions
Businesses gain a critical advantage when they have a pricing technology that has high availability, but it’s a real competitive differentiator in the market when the technology is high performing as well. It is important to understand not just when your technology performs but how quickly. In today’s pricing landscape, there is a need for reliability (uptime) and speed (performance). These two go hand in hand.
Most B2B pricing requires complex configurations with multiple variables and segmentations. For example, a modest B2B distributor may have 35,000 products, with 30,000 customer price lists, with two channel price lists equaling about 2.1 billion unique price points within their business. Will 1,000 price points slow the system down and cause delays for your pricing professionals and your customers? Manual processes (think excel spreadsheets) cannot handle data of this magnitude, let alone quickly and accurately. Technology has become critical.
So, in order to move quickly with accuracy, you need a technology, like PROS Smart Price Optimization and Management, that will enable you to price large quotes in a matter of sub-seconds. This sub-second process is driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that parse through data effectively at lightning speeds. When selecting your pricing technology, ensure that the vendor provides performance guarantees. For example, if you are in an industry such as distribution, with various price segmentations, ask the vendor about their experiences with large amounts of price calls daily and about their performance guarantees (contractual SLAs) when generating and delivering pricing. Make sure that the pricing technology your business selects has response times or throughputs that will meet the demands of your business.
PROS Real-Time Pricing Engine
If you are looking for a pricing technology that has both high availability and high-performance look to PROS Real-Time Pricing Engine (RTPE). PROS pricing evaluation API powers sales channels with real-time (sub-second) delivery of pricing information and has 99.99% availability. PROS RTPE is included in our pricing platform, PROS Smart Price Optimization and Management, scaled by the number of monthly price requests (1M, 3M, 10M).
With this technology, our customers are making big impacts within their business.
For example, a South American car rental company gained a competitive edge by implementing PROS RTPE during COVID-19. Before PROS, the car rental company could not move fast enough and were losing market share to their competitors. The company had access to immense amounts of competitive data but were forced to be reactive in their pricing strategy because of the slow processing of pricing data manually in excel, the time it took to upload new price lists manually, and limited access to real time pricing. With the investment in PROS RTPE, the South American car rental company now drives over 15 million price calculations per day and delivers them to the channels their customers expect them in. With the value of PROS Real-Time Pricing Engine, the South American car rental company has implemented pricing strategies that allow them to stay ahead of the competition, generated a 36% increase in revenue, and achieved their highest quarterly revenue ever in Q1 2022.
Investing in a pricing technology that has high availability and high performance is imperative for your business. It’s about growth and margins, but even more it’s about the customer: today’s B2B buyers demand fast, personalized, and consistent buying experiences. By choosing PROS Real-Time Pricing Engine (RTPE) you are getting a technology that has best in class uptime of 99.99% and has a proven record of scalability for large customers.
To learn more about how to bring PROS Real-Time Pricing Engine to your business, contact us at pros.com/contact.