Technology companies have always searched for a way to integrate functions in various devices or programs. The advantages to a provider are obvious: more functions mean more charges that can be made, or greater customer loyalty.
The latter has been questionable. Cell phone providers are finding that loading lots of programs onto them leads to "function fatigue" - customers are unable to remember what the phones can do and how to do it, leading to frustration.
Electronics consumers have resisted multiple - function remote control devices often for the same reason, and no one has yet come up with the perfect device.
In a business setting, the computer has been the most successful multifunction device - quite often at the expense of ease of use.
Interestingly the web has become the ultimate integration device - storage, programs, communications, content have all found an interactive home there. And it's relatively easy to use and access.
Now IFX Online and Franchise Payments Network have integrated two functions that are important to the franchise community: online ordering and reporting, combined with online payment.
IFX Online, which develops and hosts Intranet and Extranet systems for more than 190 franchise concepts internationally, provides sales and royalty reporting, financial data analysis, franchise lead management, as well as online ad creation systems and web site development/hosting services for individual franchise owners. Meanwhile, FPN specializes in technology that helps streamline the purchasing process, combining the buying power of all of its clients to achieve a more cost - effective solution.
The combination will allow franchisees to review and order unlimited products, and pay online by credit card or automatic clearing. This solution alleviates risk to vendors, which may encourage them to give franchisees increased wholesale discounts.
"This partnership makes ordering products easier, more cost - effective and less stressful for franchisees, vendors, and franchisors," says Tom Epstein, president and CEO of FPN. "Our payments are made in real time which enables the franchisor to get their payments quicker and increases cash flow. Gone are the days of mailing out invoices and waiting for a check in the mail."
One rather nice aspect of the combined programs is that the franchisor can track franchisee purchasing patterns, compare the data and create metrics that can ensure that franchisees don't overspend, or order too much or too little of a product.
IFX president Dan Martin calls the combination "a win - win for everyone involved."
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