It’s exactly a year since the Business Micros Group announced details of the new TOUCH software suite, which we said at the time would drive the next generation of lead-generation products and online ordering portals for both fabricators and installers.
We launched the first of these new products, our stand-alone TOUCH Vendor lead generation and quoting tool for installers at the start of 2021 and it is doing really well, but when is the next phase and what can customers expect?
Our aim has always been to create a lead generation and product ordering tool which serves the needs of the entire supply chain – from the homeowner making the initial enquiry all the way through the surveyor, the installer, the fabricator and the glass, profile and hardware suppliers. It needs to be smart and intuitive to use at every single one of those touchpoints, but ultimately and more importantly, fully scalable so that it can be deployed easily and cost effectively by both fabricators and installers as we roll it out across the industry.
When we announced our plan in 2020, we were inundated with requests from fabricators who wanted to be amongst the first to start using the Portal quoting and ordering element of the software on their own websites and provide a linked option for their customers. However, what very quickly became clear was that it would be impossible for us to use the individual datasets held by these fabricators to create the plug and play solution which was always our vision for TOUCH.
The legacy data was missing some elements vital to the advances brought by the TOUCH engine and was too disparate for us to rely on to use at scale. So, in late summer, we took the bold decision to power all TOUCH datasets from a library of master datasets for virtually every product in the UK market – profile suites, glass and panel ranges, door slabs and hardware components.
To facilitate this, we further increased our investment in TOUCH by bringing in additional personnel with the skills and experience needed to join a new department we call ‘TOUCH Ops’. This is dedicated solely to the creation, maintenance and provision of TOUCH data and is an industry first. It’s safe to say that the TOUCH Ops team alone is larger than some other software houses and is a true measure of our commitment to our concept and to the industry at large.
This has obviously been a massive task and is something which I think, in this industry, could only have been achieved by a company with the resources of the Business Micros Group. However, it is now complete, and this is the data which we will be making available for use by every TOUCH customer.
Effectively, what we have created is a platform which will allow every single user – whether they are a fabricator or an installer – to populate their TOUCH systems with accurate data for every product they actually manufacture or sell and to do so quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
Each TOUCH subscriber will have a control layer on their dataset and will be able to filter out colours and variants they don’t sell and even products they don’t have in stock to make for a streamlined journey from enquiry to installation, and this is what will be unique in this market.
We are now very close to fulfilling our vision of a fully integrated solution which means that, when a homeowner creates their window and door design via an installer’s TOUCH Vendor online lead generation system, that design is based not only on a product which can physically be fabricated and installed, but also a product which is manufactured and available to order via TOUCH Portal from their chosen supplier.
We are obviously very conscious of the fact that we could have delivered a compromised version of TOUCH Portal and the connected version of TOUCH Vendor by now, but we think delaying the roll out to get the platform right for the long term will actually be welcomed by the vast majority of the market.
What it also means is that, in time, we will easily be able to add products like garden rooms, garage doors, decking, fencing and other home improvement products to the TOUCH platform and provide even more value to users.
It goes without saying that all of the TOUCH data will be available only to TOUCH users, including, of course, all of the installers who are already using the TOUCH Vendor stand-alone lead generation tool.