2009 Mobilizer Awards: Best In Supply Chain/DSD

By  Susan Nunziata — November 06, 2009


Anheuser-Busch InBev saw sales increase after deploying a mobile delivery platform.

Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, Anheuser-Busch InBev employs 120,000 people in more than 30 countries worldwide.

The company needed a way to improve its supply chain systems for 4,500 users in Brazil and 500 users in Belgium to improve field sales, field services, and distribution. The goal: to improve productivity for their direct store delivery operation and improve accuracy of their invoicing and payment systems.

Drivers were making an average of 10 deliveries per day and tracking their progress with a paper-based manual system. At the end of the day, data entry bins were filled with paperwork from hundreds of drivers, awaiting input into the company's finance system. The company worked with Deloitte Consulting and Spring Wireless to implement a fully mobile application solution based on the Spring mSeries mobile platform. The solution uses Microsoft BizTalk to integrate with InBev back-office systems as well as their SAP applications. This puts access to key business applications in the hands of field workers via Motorola MC70 rugged handheld computers. Some of the devices are also equipped with barcode scanning capabilities.

ROI was achieved in six months and positive cash flow by the third month. In addition, the availability of real-time data for accurate and timely invoicing streamlined the invoicing process, reducing days sales outstanding (DSO) by 15%, from an average of 45 days to 39 days.

Other metrics include:

  • Reduced time for picking products and inventory counting by 30%
  • Driver productivity increased by 10% with elimination of paperwork. Each driver can make a minimum of one additional stop per day than  previously possible.
  • Actual sales have increased 9% because drivers frequently sell additional product beyond the order at delivery time. The additional driver stop per day provided an increase in sales opportunities.
  • Productivity of administrative staff has increased 15% as a result of the elimination of the neeed to manually key in the information into the computer.



Honorable Mention

Magazine merchandisers for CMG deliver store data in real time

Comag Marketing Group (CMG), jointly owned by Conde Nast Publications and The Hearst Corp., provides leading magazine publishers with comprehensive sales, marketing and promotional services. CMG employs a 400-member merchandising staff who are required to collect data and perform a series of in-store condition checks.  CMG provides merchandising services to thousands of US retail locations as well as US airport newsstands.

At airports, data was previously collected via legacy handheld devices with an application designed and deployed in 2003 that was limited in its flexibility to integrate into other CMG corporate systems. The retail merchandising staff used either a manual "bubble form" or entered the data into Excel spreadsheets.  The bubble forms were mailed weekly, and CMG's IS team had to process them into an electronic data warehouse.  The Excel spreadsheets were submitted via email. 

The new mobile solution allows merchandisers to scan barcode information using a .NET custom application. The data are fed in real time into CMG's Dynamics CRM environment, which allows for immediate reporting throughout the company. 

CMG worked with a number of vendors, including Panasonic Toughbook and its VAR Trac2Mobile; Eastridge Technologies, which developed the .NET Application; and Customer Effective, which developed and implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The retail team uses Panasonic Toughbook T8s, while the airport team uses Toughbook U1s.  Both have embedded Gobi mobile broadband cards. 

In the past, data collected in the field took three to four weeks to be reviewed and processed. This data turnaround time only allowed for trending; since most magazines have a shelf life of a week or a month, titles were often off the shelf by the time information was available. That process has been reduced to one to two days.

The total cost of the project (including hardware) was less than $2 million. The company anticipates ROI within three years.  "We can now substantially measure where people go, how much time they spend in store, and we can do an efficiency model or build in route optimization," says Sean Poccia, Senior Director of Information Services with CMG.


Honorable Mention
Independent distributors needed a mobile solution to get Tastykake to market

Philadelphia-based Tasty Baking Company offers more than 100 products under the Tastykake brand name, available as far west as Cleveland, north to Northern New Jersey, south to Northern Virginia and east to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Products reach convenience stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets across this geographic territory via a direct store delivery system (DSD) operated by more than 450 independent sales distributors. Until recently, these distributors used an outdated DOS-based application plus paper records.

Tasty Baking wanted to provide distributors with a mobile solution that would give them a broad range of information to help them their businesses. A software application vendor helped Tasty Baking create a proprietary route direct store delivery (DSD) system, embedding Sybase's Afaria and SQL Anywhere into the application. The Route DSD application was installed on Motorola 9090 handheld devices equipped with barcode scanners, which distributors use to capture data on product being removed from and delivered to store shelves. The devices are connected via Bluetooth to the Zebra RW420 portable thermal printer. The application includes electronic signature capture; store recipient's signatures into  delivery tickets printed on site. Signatures are also electronically transmitted to Tasty Baking as proof of delivery.

Afaria enables Tasty Baking's IT staff to manage the distributors' devices from a central location. SQL Anywhere provides database and synchronization capabilities. Tasty Baking wanted to optimize synchronization between the Motorola devices and its Microsoft SQL Server and SAP ERP system. "We wanted the whole package," says Tasty Baking CIO Brendan O'Malley (a member of the Mobile Enterprise Editorial Advisory Board). "One of the things we've focused on is to not have 17 different tools to integrate. Whenever we can get a vendor to provide us with a complete end-to-end solution, we think that's a good thing. Sybase having all the tools for data integration, device management, [even] the device itself, that was a big plus."

While primarily developed to help streamline its distributors' business operations and help distributors become more profitable, Tasty Baking Company has seen a return on its investment through the reduced billing cycles and improved product forecasting. Tasty Baking and its distributors are now exploring a move to scan-based trading. Under this system, products delivered to a store remain the property of the distributor until they are actually scanned as sold by the store's register. At that point, the transaction is reported and the store invoiced for the product, providing accurate and efficient inventory management and billing.


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