I’m the Director of IT for Peerless Beverage Company, which distributes beer, wine and spirits in the state of New Jersey. We distribute to 4 million people, accounting for 46% of the state. Like many of our peers in the distribution space, we are constantly trying to improve business processes in order to deliver excellent customer service.
I’m in charge of the company’s technology solutions and am tasked with solving critical business challenges. Recently, our team has been focused on the following areas of improvement:
- Gain a better understanding of why deliveries are not made
- Improve driver satisfaction
- Launch an ecommerce side of the business
Missed Deliveries: For years, we struggled to accurately report on missed deliveries, specifically the underlying reasons and the frequency at which they happened. Missed deliveries are often stripped off of the truck and put away. Later in the week they are re-loaded onto a new truck for another attempted delivery. This double handling of the inventory was wasted time as well as wasted space on the trucks. I knew all of the reasons why deliveries wouldn’t go as planned, such as those customers who by law had to pay at the time of delivery but didn’t have funds, but I had no way of reporting on the types or frequency of missed deliveries. Our existing ERP, a wholesale distribution technology warehouse management system, didn’t allow me to report on missed deliveries. When there is no clear visibility into missed deliveries it's hard to take action and correct it.
Low employee satisfaction with truck drivers: With the pandemic came a truck driver shortage which made hiring qualified drivers challenging. Drivers get paid a salary plus a commission based on what they've delivered. Tracking that commission had always been a manual paper based process. Each driver would have to go through a timely reconciliation process to figure out what their commission should be. This process needed to be automated.
Route delivery tool saves 40 hours/month and increases customer satisfaction by maximizing deliveries
With Internal, my team now relies on daily and monthly reports that detail why deliveries didn’t go as planned allowing them to pinpoint the reasons and with which customers. This has allowed us to change the way we route deliveries which has reduced the number of missed deliveries. Internal provided the following ROI:
- We can now provide better customer service because we’ve significantly reduced missed deliveries.
- We are now able to create custom business apps 5x faster than the time it would have taken to create the same tools with existing software.
- Significant reduction in missed deliveries saves our drivers 40 hours per month and increases employee satisfaction.
- The team creating the delivery routes save 40 hours per month, or 2 hrs per day.
Ecommerce app allows ability to easily connect multiple datasources, freeing up IT time
During the pandemic we set out to start an ecommerce side of the business. The first step to successfully doing this was to set up automated delivery notifications via email and text so that customers have transparency and visibility into any items that may be out of stock as well as order tracking. In order for that to work we would need to connect multiple data sources which lived in separate places (website and ERP). Launching this sort of initiative was simply not possible with existing technology.
With Internal, I’m able to connect multiple data sources for my ecommerce business. Specifically, I’m able to match customer contact information in the eoStar (ERP system) Microsoft SQL database with the MySQL database storing website data.
It was critical that we connect multiple data sources which lived in separate places in order to launch our ecommerce business. To be completely honest, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without Internal. With little to no code I can tell Internal exactly what data I want to pull, where to put it and what to do with it. That flexibility is key.
I’m already thinking of ways to use Internal next. I plan to build out a CRM-like tool for our customer service department. Previously, we built out an Access tool to log customer calls, the reason for the call and next steps. The customer service department stopped using that tool due to performance issues with Access but are in need of such a tool now. This time I’m going to set it up in Internal because it's just so easy.