Order Entry System Reduces Shipping Errors
Problem: The order entry system for My Grandma’s of New England routinely transposed data from one order to another, causing shipping errors and other assorted problems.
Solution: The company implemented a new order entry system.
Results: Shipping errors were virtually eliminated.
My Grandma’s of New England had an order entry system (OES) that was wildly unstable, often causing data errors that resulted in shipping methods from one order being applied to another order, disappearing entirely or customer greetings placed on an order to end up on the wrong order. So last November, the company implemented Morse Data’s InOrder OES to reduce shipping errors caused by its legacy OES. Today, data errors are virtually gone, but it was a long road to get there.
The old system, according to Bruce Mills, vice president of operations and marketing at the Boston-based multichannel coffee cake merchant, caused errors that affected about 25 percent of all of My Grandma’s orders.
Adding to Mills’ frustration, his previous OES vendor was unresponsive to repeated technical support requests to resolve the problems. While he had researched how difficult it would be to force the vendor to fulfill the customer and technical support portions of its contract, he ultimately decided that bailing out and finding a new vendor would be less costly and more productive for the business.
Mills’ initial search yielded about a dozen potential software vendors, but he narrowed the field to Ecometry and Morse Data. The latter was chosen, not only because of its level of technology and commitment to customer service, Mills says, but also because “we were going to be a fairly large fish in a small pond as opposed to a little fish in a huge pond.”
Once My Grandma’s chose Morse Data’s InOrder OES, implementation wasn’t difficult, although Mills admits that he and his team did underestimate how long it would take to set up the system.
He initially planned to go live in August 2005, well before the holiday season. However, the implementation took a few months longer, with the system set to go live in November. He estimates it took between 100 and 200 man hours to set it up, which required My Grandma’s to input information on 160 SKUs, as well as establish a set of business rules for the OES to follow.
Training on the new system took six to eight days. This included time for on-site training, and occasional remote training, during which an InOrder technician was given control of a customer service rep’s (CSR) computer so he could show the rep how to accomplish certain tasks.
Although InOrder went live during My Grandma’s holiday season, the transition was eased by InOrder reps who were on site for the first three days, ready to troubleshoot any problems. While Mills notes that My Grandma’s paid extra to have InOrder on hand, he says competent support staff felt like a luxury compared with the company’s previous vendor.
While the new system requires CSRs to manually enter orders — whether the orders are placed online or by phone — Mills plans to take advantage of InOrder’s online integration ability so Web orders automatically are verified and fed into back-end systems. He will revamp My Grandma’s Web site before he completes the integration of InOrder’s online solution.
Mills says the InOrder solution cost $80,000 to $100,000, but that included on-site training, additional tweaks he wanted Morse Data to make to the program and several subscriptions to other software that interact with InOrder. One such program is Melissa Data’s address verification software, which requires a quarterly licensing fee.
The benefits make up for the cost, Mills says. In addition to eliminating the data errors My Grandma’s had experienced, Mills says he’s saving roughly $500 per week in the off season in terms of labor to scrub data and deal with customer service issues that resulted from shipments that went out incorrectly.