Smeg has successfully integrated its logistics, sales and reporting data, which has delivered major business efficiencies using an automated order processing solution from Maginus.
Smeg is an Italian manufacturer, famous for its elegant and distinctive domestic appliances. The company manufactures all of its products in Italy, with sales and distribution managed by subsidiaries across Europe. Smeg UK was created in 1989 and is the companys largest operation outside Italy. It operates as a business-to-business distribution company that sells through many different channels including kitchen studios, electrical retailers, web retailers, contract house builders and department stores. The business has more than 650 product lines. In the UK it has two locations, a head office in Abingdon and an 80,000 sq foot warehouse in Portsmouth.
Smeg wanted to improve its efficiency, accuracy and responsiveness throughout its order-to-delivery process. The company wanted to integrate its sales functions with its logistics business and integrate its UK operations with manufacturing in Italy to reduce administrative overheads. We needed technology that would let us conduct business how we wanted and not place any limitations on us, said Simon Jarvis, IT Manager at Smeg UK. Our old system forced us to work in a particular way. The computer system drove the business processes, which wasnt right we wanted technology that would facilitate our processes. For example, when we wanted to print a despatch note with the old system, we had to print a range of notes rather than the specific one required. It was these types of inefficiencies that we wanted to stamp out. The business also wanted to be able to give the companys sales staff better information regarding product availability.
Understanding the business
Smeg ran a detailed evaluation of the market, beginning with a list of 15 suppliers which it eventually whittled down to two. Once the business entered into discussions with the two companies, Maginus expertise within the retail and wholesale space was easy to see and it was an easy decision to make. Maginus understood the retail and distribution market. For example, we didnt need to explain our pricing strategy, said Jarvis. Alongside this, Maginus had examples of retail customers where the technology was successfully installed and working, allowing the business to develop and innovate. The company also ran extensive testing programme before the scheduled go-live date.
Developing the service
The business has up to 30 concurrent Maginus users at any one time. The 16 sales administrators and accounts people are regular users of the technology. The big beneficiaries are the 24-strong sales team who have detailed information at their fingertips on a daily basis. Sales staff immediately noticed the benefits of the new technology. There was a quantum leap in the type of information that was now being viewed across the business, added Jarvis. Using the old technology, sales staff would only be able to download information regarding products and availability on a monthly basis for example the July statistics would become available on August 5th. Field sales now get access to information on a day-to-day basis, this provides a much better idea of KPIs and where they need to focus. This up-to-date information including turnover targets, summary against targets and sales reports which, in turn, all help the decision-making processes.
The companys invoicing system improved greatly. Previously, when an order was made an invoice was sent out to the customer once the despatch note had been printed, said Jarvis. However, Maginus allows us to dispatch an order, and only when the driver returns and a delivery confirmation is received, will an invoice be sent through to the customer. This improves relations with our customers greatly. Not only was the company more in control of its invoicing procedure but the company was also in control of its delivery and returns process which boosted customer satisfaction. Our third party logistics provider went bust during the decision making process. We tried to work with another provider during the 6 months prior to go live but it didnt work out, so we ended up running Maginus for our distribution as well.
Improved flexibility across the business was also evident. We could export all kinds of sales information and send it directly to our head office in Italy, said Jarvis. These reports previously needed to be generated manually so it saved lots of time and it also allows the business to make decisions regarding which distributors most urgently need their stock replenished. Maginus runs reports automatically and post them to the intranet. This allows non Maginus users to view stock levels, product information and scheduling information
The technology also improves how the business communicates with its customers. We can provide our customers with information about new products so it improves how they engage with their customers, said Jarvis. We want to make it easier to contact customers and have information centrally located. Its also much easier to send out mailshots across the customer base. We have much cleaner data through the Maginus technology, so we know that the correct people are being approached with promotions and special offers, added Jarvis.
Most importantly, the changeover of the new system had no impact on service. Customer service was not affected and there was no impact upon customer orders, said Jarvis. The project went live and integrated seamlessly with the business over a weekend. The technology has had a huge impact on the day-to-day running of our business, not only are we improving flexibility with pricing and promotions but the technology is improving the overall operations of the organisation.