Traidcraft, the largest supplier of fair trade products in the UK, aims to alleviate poverty through trade by sourcing its products from community based businesses in the third world, paying a fair price to the producers and distributing the products in the UK. The goods are sold via a network of 4,500 volunteer agents (Fair Traders), a mail order catalogue, a web shop, independent retailers, and supermarkets.
Traidcraft plcs sales are more than 12 million a year providing vital income for producers in over 30 countries. Traidcraft offer a wide range of products across four categories crafts, paper products, food and jewellery.
Business growth the catalyst for new systems
A new computer system became necessary to help manage significant growth within the company. Following an extensive analysis of systems on the market, Traidcraft chose Maginus Commerce Software, the specialist provider of multi-channel solutions for Retail and Distribution. Lesley Heeley IT Manager at Traidcraft commented We saw Maginus in action handling very large volumes on a number of reference visits and this gave us every confidence in choosing it. The system went live on 1 March 2004 supporting 80 users.
Immediate Increase in Business Capacity
In just the first week of live operation, Traidcraft despatched 3500 parcels more than 10 per cent above peak levels achieved with the old system. Maginus more efficient packing system enabled this by smoothly integrating with parcel carriers solutions, whilst keeping despatch costs to a minimum. Bottlenecks in the old process, for example production of high-volumes of despatch documentation and manual intervention, have been eliminated.
Maginus automates stock movements between Traidcrafts three main warehouses, which include a main distribution warehouse with bulk storage and mail order picking faces, a separate bulk store used to supply supermarkets, and an outsourced wine warehousing facility.
Thanks to an arrangement with Traidcrafts parcel carrier, the transport of parcels weighing under 18kgs is advantageous. Maginus ensures this condition is met as it holds details of each products size and weight and provides an algorithm to plan picking by splitting and optimising parcels to this maximum. The required product data was imported quickly and accurately into the system using the Maginus Dataload tool which will also be used to import new products and updates.
During the implementation project Traidcraft re-configured the racking using another Maginus algorithm to automate the walk sequence of pickers around the warehouse. Pickers drop the goods at a packing station where a barcode on the picking document is scanned to call up the order details for pick confirmation.
At the third party wine warehouse, Maginus allows UK import duty and excise payments to be deferred until goods are sold, by holding stock under bond, and automatically calculating payments due.
These improvements in the warehouse have already significantly increased the number of orders handled and this figure is likely to improve in the future as marketing activities generate new customers and increased business volumes.
Control of Multi Channel Operations
Traidcraft is a multi-channel business that sells goods to a network of volunteer agents (Fair Traders), B2C Mail Order customers, independent retailers, and supermarkets via a variety of channels post, Internet and telephone.
As Maginus is a multi channel system that automatically handles orders from any source, including internet, telephone, retail and wholesale, it allows Traidcraft to control all areas of its business using a single, integrated system. This results in enhanced customer service, improved stock control and reduced costs within the business. Tim Morgan, FD at Traidcraft commented: Thanks to Maginus, staff have visibility of orders across all channels and have access to information across all departments, improving our customer service.
Customer self service
Traidcrafts existing web site will be redeveloped using Maginus Webstore, further increasing efficiency. Maginus Webstore uses the same business rules as Maginus Commerce Server with access to up-to-date information regarding stock availability, prices, etc. Orders will be taken automatically into Maginus and handled in the same way as orders from other sales channels.
Currently 60 per cent of all orders are taken over the phone, but Traidcraft plan to encourage customers towards self service over the internet which will allow them to increase turnover without significantly increasing costs.
Whilst a core of Traidcrafts product range remains the same, a significant percentage changes from catalogue to catalogue. The purchasing and catalogue production is complicated because the goods are sourced and manufactured in the third world which often results in an 18 months lead time from product identification to delivery. Unlike most companies Traidcraft pays for goods before manufacture so that the producers in the third world have the capital to pay for materials. Goods from different suppliers are frequently consolidated into containers at overseas ports, making tracking particularly difficult. The expediting functionality within Maginus however, allows Traidcraft to track containers easily, identifying potential problems in the supply and addressing these early.
Technology to Support Future Growth and Change
Maginus is built round an Oracle database, which offers a robust yet flexible platform capable of handling very high volumes and integrating additional applications, allowing for future growth.
There are still many areas of the Maginus system that Traidcraft have yet to exploit. Tim Morgan concluded Were very excited at some of the new functionality in the Maginus 6xa release. We plan to exploit the flexibility of the plug ins to introduce functionality specific to ourselves whilst continuing to take the standard product upgrades. Im very confident that Maginus will help support significant growth in our business, which in turn will allow us further our mission of fighting poverty through trade.