A core differentiating feature of Pylon Observer is the online proposals.
Unlike other solar quoting software (e.g. Nearmap, SolarPlus, Helioscope that generated PDF proposals, Pylon Observer proposals are hosted online such that the solar designers and retailers are able to simply share a unique web URL to the end-consumer.
This removes the steps of downloading and using a PDF viewer (such as Adobe Acrobat) to view the proposal. The online proposals also allows improved version management of the proposals, as all updates are automatically saved online and do not require additional PDF files to be saved onto the computer.
However, based on customer feedback a major draw back of Pylon Observer’s existing online proposal is the lack of signing facility. Once end-consumers were ready to accept and sign a proposal, the solar business is still required to either send a PDF version via email or send an electronic signature request using HelloSign, PandaDocs or Pylon Observer e-Signature. This requires additional correspondence and incurs administrative costs to organize signing of the proposal.
A recent major update to Pylon Observer’s online proposal is the Proposal Sidebar. The sidebar provides a new checkout experience for the end-consumer, with a summary of the solar system and a button to purchase by signing the online proposal. This streamlines the acceptance process allowing signatures to be attained as part of the online proposal and without using PDFs or additional software.
Once proposals have been accepted, the next major hurdle solar business face in the sales process is collecting payments. Customer surveys have revealed that the majority of solar businesses will collect payments via bank transfer. This typically involves solar administrator staff emailing an invoice to the end-consumer with due amount and business bank details. The end-consumer will pay by logging onto their banking service and transferring that amount into the business bank account.
Once the bank transfer has been cleared, the solar administrator staff must match the payments in the business bank account with the end-consumer and issue a receipt. The process requires multiple manual steps, over several days and continued correspondence between the solar administrator staff and end-consumer to organize.
Solar businesses also collect payments using POS (point-of-sale) devices such as CommBank’s Albert EFTPOS tablet. This allows end-consumers to easily pay by tapping or inserting the credit card into the device. POS devices eliminates the complexity associated with organizing bank transfer but require sales staff to be on site to collect payments. Administrator staff will still need to match amounts received in the bank account to the each end-consumer which may require additional correspondence.
Pylon Observer’s Payment Gateway feature allows payments to be processed remotely and removes the complexity with organizing and reconciling payments for administrator staff. As part of the Pylon Observer’s online proposal, the Payment Gateway provides gives end-consumers options to ‘Pay Deposit’ and ‘Pay full amount’ in the Proposal Sidebar. End-consumers electing to pay via Payment Gateway will be able to enter their credit card details and submit a payment.
Payments will be the correctly quoted amount and is transferred to the correct nominated business bank account. This process eliminates the human error risk associated with Bank Transfers whereby manually entry may result in incorrect payment amounts or transfers to the wrong bank account. Once payment has been submitted, Pylon Observer’s Payment Gateway will automatically email a paid invoice and a receipt to both the end-consumer and the solar business.
Transferred amounts into the business bank account will have an associated CSV file with end-consumer details, helping administrator staff reconcile their accounting books. Feedback from Payment Gateway beta users have indicated a substantial time saving (> 1 hour per payment processed) for solar businesses operations and a reduction in human errors that commonly occur.
Alan Lam is a solar specialist with over 5 years of experience supporting solar businesses in Australia. Alan understands the nuances of government incentive schemes for solar in Australia and beyond in detail and has a wealth of knowledge to give solar installers.
Get additional documents, guides and tips as they become available