Magazine Article | June 21, 2006

Integrate Order Management With Warehouse, E-Commerce Systems

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

A catalog retailer reduced operational costs and merged its e-commerce business with its other business systems by implementing a new order management application.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, July 2006

Van Bourgondien sells Dutch flower bulbs in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and Korea. It does business through mail order catalogs — two consumer catalogs (Van Bourgondien and Van Dycks) and one business-to-business catalog (K. Van Bourgondien & Sons).

Van Bourgondien is a family owned business that used one order management system for approximately 20 years. The retailer was unable to upgrade its hardware because the software could not run on recent versions of Windows, and support was no longer available, so it needed to find another solution. Additionally, Van Bourgondien sought enhanced features in credit card processing (e.g. address verifications) and wanted the ability to track clients’ purchasing history. A solution was found and implemented, but it, too, had its shortcomings. “After about two years, we realized the solution would not support our growth,” says Debbie Van Bourgondien, the company VP. “In order to sustain profitability, we needed to better track our available inventory. Our products are perishable and require time-sensitive delivery. For that reason, our inventory processes are unique — we could get an order for products that haven’t yet been dug from the ground. Because of different growing seasons, we offer products to different areas of the country at different times of the year. The order management system we had chosen couldn’t handle all of these special requirements, nor could it provide us with full inventory visibility.”

As a result, Van Bourgondien asked her IT director to search for another solution. After evaluating three applications, the company selected the CWDirect, CWIntegrate, and CWData solutions from CommercialWare. This software solution was selected because Van Burgondien felt it could keep pace with the company’s growth.

Reduce Manual Entry, Increase Efficiency
Van Bourgondien describes CWIntegrate as the center of a wheel connecting several spokes. The system acts as a hub by integrating with the company’s e-commerce, shipping, and warehouse management systems. CWDirect coordinates all order processing, merchandising, and customer service across all customer regions. It merges customer service and order entry for the call center and Web orders. Additionally, the solution handles address verification for credit card processing, and it tracks clients’ purchases. CWData provides a business intelligence solution, enabling visibility to information needed for business decisions.

Approximately 50% of Van Bourgondien’s customers still submit orders via mail or phone. With the CWDirect solution, the company was able to place four customer service representatives into other positions because their labor was no longer needed for order entry. “We have not formally measured ROI on the system implementation, but we know that we are processing more orders with less staff than ever before,” says Van Bourgondien. “Managing inventory is much easier, and our time to ship is much faster. We used to encounter unfilled orders because we failed to ship products to a customer in time for their planting season or because we didn’t have the available inventory of a specific product. So, with the new system, we are definitely more profitable from an operational standpoint.” Because Van Bourgondien is able to track all order histories, it also uses the system as a CRM (customer relationship management) tool to promote to customers based on their buying patterns.

Van Bourgondien feels it caught up with its competitors with the implementation of CWDirect. It plans to upgrade to version 10.0 of the software, which has new features such as PCI (payment card industry) compliance, purchase order processing, and discount processing.