Magazine Article | February 16, 2007

Improve Multichannel Ordering Processes With A BPM Solution

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

A BPM (business process management) solution enables a children’s furniture retailer to immediately confirm in-stock items and reduce the number of undeliverable packages.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, March 2007

If you're a multichannel retailer, one scenario you want to avoid is a customer eagerly anticipating receipt of an item ordered from your catalog or Web site only to find out later that it's back-ordered. To make sure that doesn't happen to its customers, KooKoo Bear Kids uses business process software.

KooKoo Bear Kids offers a wide range of children's furniture, bedding, and accessories via its Web site, catalog, and retail store. Joe Mediate, CEO, and his wife, Tara, started the company in 2003. Business took off right away, and the company experienced double-digit revenue growth each month of its first year. To stay on top of demand for his company's products, Mediate knew he needed a sophisticated BPM program. After a four-month evaluation of the products on the market, Mediate chose Mail Order Management (M.O.M.) from Dydacomp. M.O.M. integrates all channels of a retailer's business, including Web, phone, and retail store sales, so that inventory is always up-to-date and customers and order takers know right away whether items are available. The solution also manages all aspects of the retailer's multichannel business: customer relationships, order entry and processing, shipment tracking, payment processing, purchasing and receiving, and accounting. "I looked at other products, but the ones that offer similar functionality are Unix-based and would have necessitated an investment in personnel and equipment that M.O.M. didn't," says Mediate.

Mediate, who has a background in IT, installed M.O.M. himself on the company's Microsoft small business server and — at the time — single XP-based workstation. Since then, he's added 50 more workstations, and M.O.M. has grown along with the company. KooKoo Bear Kids manages its IT operations with a single IT administrator.

Design Business Rules That Work
When a customer places an order from the KooKoo Bear Kids Web site or call center, the solution immediately lets the customer or the order taker know whether the desired item is in stock. Then, after the customer pays for the product, the system generates an order summary, an invoice, and a pick order for the warehouse shipping clerk. The pick order specifies the exact product and where it's located in the warehouse. M.O.M. tells the warehouse employee to print the invoice to pack with the merchandise; it also selects the best shipping method and generates an order tracking number. "Also, the solution won't generate a pick ticket until you have a payment in hand," says Mediate. "You can't go to step B until step A is completed."

Dydacomp continues to add features in response to client demand. One such feature — address validation — proved to be financially beneficial to KooKoo Bear Kids. "We ship a lot of large, heavy items, and FedEx and UPS charge us for undeliverable packages," says Mediate. "Often, customers purchasing gifts don't know the correct street address or apartment number of the recipient. In these cases, the gift gets sent back. Not only do we get hit with extra delivery costs, the customer is unhappy when the gift doesn't arrive on time. The address validation feature helps avoid these outcomes."

KooKoo Bear Kids recently installed Dydacomp's SiteLINK, which directly integrates the retailer's e-commerce site with M.O.M. SiteLINK saves man-hours and improves customer convenience by automatically updating Web and call center activities in M.O.M., as well as automatically updating the Web site when any changes are made in M.O.M., such as the addition of a new SKU. "When we implemented SiteLINK, order volume immediately went up because customers would know for sure whether merchandise was available at the time of the order. In addition, the integration allows customers to track their own orders from placement through delivery, so it's eliminated lots of phone calls inquiring about order status," says Mediate. "Customers want their purchasing transactions — whether online, over the phone, or in a store — to be hassle-free and as smooth as possible. M.O.M. and SiteLINK help us provide that experience."

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