The LED lighting revolution has been excellent for retrofitters, building owners, and anyone who values energy efficiency — but there have been a few downsides for those tasked with product information management.
The pace of change in the commercial lighting market nearly matches the breakneck speed for which the microchip field is notorious. Lifecycles, efficacy, and performance are improving at such a rapid rate that the industry can barely absorb all the product information coming at it.
Many energy service companies (ESCOs) and contractors aren’t set up for this challenge. Simply maintaining a catalog and parts list almost requires a full-time person.
As if managing all this product information wasn’t challenging enough, retrofit contractors and ESCOs must also navigate an inefficient and awkward pricing process.
Typically, what occurs is a retrofitter exports a bill of material or spreadsheet from their quoting system, attaches it to an email, and sends it to a distributor or an agent. Then the distributor must download the document, determine the correct prices, reattach the information, and email it back to the contractor. Oftentimes, this cycle repeats until both parties are satisfied.
Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario, especially in an era when many lighting retrofit companies are transitioning to digital systems and processes. The potential for human error is simply too great and the process is outdated.
Fortunately, just as technological innovation helped create this predicament, technology offers a way out: the SnapSource Product Hub.
What Is SnapSource?
SnapSource is a platform and a business model that helps ESCOs and lighting retrofit contractors overcome their product information management and pricing challenges. SnapSource is integrated directly into SnapCount, the leading audit and project management ecosystem used by a network of over 3,700 energy efficiency professionals across the nation. If you use SnapCount, you already have access to SnapSource.
Users have referred to SnapSource as the “lighting design search engine,” and in a way, this may be the best description.
- SnapSource serves as a pre-screened repository of preferred lighting manufacturers and their products.
- Commercial lighting manufacturers that participate in SnapSource can manage their product list within a single central catalog (as opposed to sending multiple and continual spreadsheet updates to hundreds of contractors).
- When a manufacturer makes a product change, that change is immediately replicated across hundreds of companies and thousands of SnapCount users.
How ESCOs and Lighting Contractors Use SnapSource in the Field
We’ve already described the typical, inefficient process for pushing a quote request to a commercial lighting manufacturer. Here’s how it works with SnapSource:
- After your field crews conduct a lighting audit and sync the audit information to the cloud using SnapCount — where the data can be used to generate a quote — the next step is to initiate a solution search using SnapSource.
- SnapSource is available from the solutions tab of SnapCount. There, you can see manufacturer recommendations based on your audit data.
- SnapSource also includes a powerful search function that lets you restrict your search to specific manufacturers and filter your search by factors such as watts, lumens, classification and so on. You can also search using keywords (such as “troffer”).
- To get more information about a product in SnapSource, you can hover over it with your mouse to see spec sheets and images. Once you’ve decided on a product, you simply hit “select” to apply the product to the solutions tab.
- After you apply a product in SnapSource, that product will land on your cost sheet. If you’ve already worked with that manufacturer, the pricing will carry over. Otherwise, you can reach out to the manufacturer within SnapSource. (SnapSource also allows you to choose from a list of channel partners.)
SnapSource From a Commercial Lighting Manufacturer’s Perspective
SnapSource notifies manufacturers and distributors via email when a Request for Quote (RFQ) has been initiated. After receiving the notification, manufacturers can log in to their SnapSource dashboard to get more information about the organization that submitted the RFQ, review their product needs, and read any notes they may have included.
The manufacturer can then send pricing information back to the retrofitter. The retrofitter is then notified of the pricing via email and in the system and can accept the pricing if they see it fit.
As for inputting product data, commercial lighting manufacturers can choose to add the information one at a time or use SnapSource’s convenient mass upload function. (This is useful for manufacturers that already have their product information saved in spreadsheet form.)
SnapSource maintains a sortable list of the most common fixtures audited within the past 30, 90 and 180 days. The recommended solutions feature draws from this list when contractors fill out their scope of work.
SnapSource also enables manufacturers to set up multiple price lists. So, if a manufacturer or distributor already has a good working relationship with a contractor or ESCO, the system can pull from an agreed-upon pricing schedule when the contractor or ESCO applies a product.
Other SnapSource features for commercial lighting manufacturers include the ability to map states or countries to channel partners and specify access levels to individual users within an organization.
Say Goodbye to Emails, Attachments and Wasted Time
In an industry that prides itself on innovation, lighting manufacturers are no exception as they continue to create new and improved lighting products by the day. SnapSource helps lighting retrofitters keep up with the pace of change while streamlining the path from audit to RFQ to proposal to profit.
SnapSource eliminates tedious product research, offers easy access to spec-driven product information and pricing, and enables faster, more accurate proposals. Ready to see SnapSource in action? View a recording of our recent webinar for a demonstration.