Baker and Taylor Automated Sales Processes
Baker and Taylor had in place an automated process by which their field sales team place orders using an iPad, but the back end processing was labour intensive. IMS developed for them an integrated promotion ordering system that not only reduced time and cost but in improved the real time information available to customers and management.
At Baker & Taylor UK their aim is to ensure that their retail partners have the optimal book ranges in store. This means quality ranges of books that inspire the consumer and maximise retail sales. As the leading UK wholesaler of customised retail book ranges they have access to all UK publications and many overseas lines but Baker and Taylor differ by supporting this with their expert market knowledge and full service package. Baker and Taylor trade with retailers across many sectors – from multiple high street retailers to specialist one off gift shops and visitor attractions. Their expertise allows them to be at the forefront of what is happening in books to ensure the markets they serve gain maximum benefit. With this they are still able to focus on each retailer individually so that their book offering is pertinent to their specific market and complementary to their wider product offering. Some things are crucial to Baker and Taylor - 1. Understanding their retailer, 2. Knowing the book market – new and old - and then, making everything else happen in between to get the right books, in the right quantities, at the right price and at the right time, on the shelf in store.
Baker and Taylor needed a business solution. They already had in place an automated process for everyday orders by which their field sales team place orders using an iPad. When it came to promotional activity this was very labour intensive from the sales team perspective and then once they received the orders the process was manual and lengthy.There current iPad solution was not able to handle the non-standard promotional orders and the pressure on office based staff was immense. The process for promotional related orders therefore had to rely on the sales staff placing orders via paper based order forms or excel sheets and emailing or faxing them in to the office, where they could be printed out and manually keyed into the system. This was an expensive and time consuming process.Baker and Taylor run promotional activities four times a year, the biggest being in July. They were therefore looking for a solution that could be installed before the July 2017 promotion that would deliver benefits in time and resource costs and ensure happy customers. They wanted to use the existing iPad and the existing order system, which was integrated into their System 21. In addition to automatically logging the promotional orders the system needed to be able to hold the booked orders for a 3-4 month period until stock arrived and the orders were able to be automatically allocated and released.
Baker and Taylor considered three alternative solution partners. Integrated Management Solutions (Global) Ltd (IMS) were able to put forward a strong case since in addition to already being a Baker and Taylor supplier they had already worked on a similar project based on a spreadsheet solution for another client, and therefore understood what was needed. As iSeries experts they also fully appreciated the operational considerations of the AS400.Baker and Taylor put together a working party to handle the core project. The central team consisted of the IMS Web and AS400 specialists plus Annette Burgess the Managing Director, the IT Developer Neil Hogston, Client Service Manager, Vanessa Mall and their Web and Marketing colleague Chris Mall. Regional Managers and the Sales Team where involved but only when their input was needed and then for testing and launching the project, thus avoiding pulling them off the road and ensuring the minimum disruption within the business. The project was complex, thousands of lines of code were produced, and the project became much more complex than originally envisaged but was delivered on time and to specification.
The project was delivered on time and to specification. The new promotion ordering system has been a huge success with the sales team, with over 1000 orders being placed within 3 days. A process that typically take 3 weeks to get into the system. When planning for their autumn campaign Baker and Taylor decided not to employ temporary staff to assist in keying in data and this has proven to be a good decision. Since there is no longer a requirement to key data into the system manually the speed of entry and quality of data has improved resulting in improved accuracy of reporting for management as well as time saving and improved customer service. Barker and Taylor wanted to cut down time and use of paper, fax, post and print and reduce steps required to process promotion orders. They have succeeded in not only reducing time and cost but in improving the real time information available to customers and management providing updates at the touch of a button and becoming a more client services oriented department. Baker and Taylor and IMS are now evaluating further business process automation and IT Support opportunities going forward