Alcohol Distributor Replaces Paper System with Automated Field Sales Solution

By Michael Barbella — February 21, 2007

Who: Brown-Forman Australia (formerly Swift & Moore), the Australia-based distributor of Jack Daniels, Kahlua, Southern Comfort and Finlandia Vodka.

Challenge: Account managers visiting outlets such as hotels and bottle shops manually took orders, updated customer information, organized promotions, maintained merchandising records and surveyed customers. With forms for product and promotions information, forms for recording in-store information and notes containing customers' sales history, the company's 70 account managers were bogged down in paperwork.

The orders were phoned in several times a day, but survey forms were physically brought back to the office once a month, scanned, and the data incorporated into the company's sales system. The data was used for business decision making, accessing trends in the marketplace and brand positioning, but the information was often inaccurate and out of date.

In addition, account managers could not use the company's Microsoft Exchange email system--they would have to call the office to get messages or learn of any changes to meeting times.

Brown-Forman needed a mobile solution to automate its time-consuming paper-based field sales while at the same time increasing productivity and gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.

 

Solution: Brown-Forman chose the O4 Mobile Field Force Solution from O4 Corporation. The solution integrates with Brown-Forman's back-office ERP solution, supporting a seamless field sales operation without duplicating data entry or effort. Account managers use Compaq iPAQ PocketPC devices and mobile phones.

Brown-Forman also upgraded to GPRS, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Outlook 2003.

Account managers now start their call cycles by wirelessly synchronizing their devices and receiving call plans. All product and customer information (including sales history, promotions and call objectives) are downloaded to the device. During each customer visit, the account managers access relevant customer information using the O4 Mobile Client program and maintain customer information by making changes and updates. Account managers also can seamlessly managed such in-store activities as orders, price monitoring and merchandising call cards.

The O4 solution provides an inventory management stock allocation module to manage high-demand, low-supply products. Once the products are allocated to customers, they can later be transferred between customers if required.

Results: Eliminating its antiquated paper-based field sales system saved Brown-Forman more than $60,000 annually on paper. The company also gets more accurate data from its customer surveys. "We've improved the integrity of information and as data is captured at the point of contact there's no costly faxing, re-keying or printing of forms," says John Tugwood, IT manager at Brown-Forman. "The solution paid for itself within 12 months."

 

The mobile system also improved productivity by cutting the time it takes to process orders from weeks to hours. This time savings allows the company to analyze the effectiveness of its sales campaigns on a daily basis.

Customer satisfaction has improved, too. "Account managers have the ability to pull up information on the territory and show customers details on the purchasing patterns of neighboring stores, which gives the account managers the ability to influence purchasing decisions and enables our customers to make informed decisions," notes Tugwood.

Besides improved productivity and better customer satisfaction, Tugwood says the O4 solution enables Brown-Forman to make changes to the system on the spot. "With the O4 solution we can make upgrades remotely without account managers ever having to come into the office," he explains. "With surveys, for example, the marketing and sales managers make regular changes to these so we can easily amend them at the head office and send the updated versions to the field."

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