Thompson Biscuit Company is a Missouri-based snack food distributor owned by Snyder's of Hanover. Thompson's sales representatives make an average of 10 deliveries each day to supermarkets, major discount retailers, and convenience stores in metro St. Louis. At each stop, the sales reps perform various tasks, including tracking inventory, delivering orders to restock shelves, placing an order for what needs to be replenished, and providing invoices and customer receipts. At the end of the day, the rep returns to the warehouse, loads their truck for the next day's deliveries, and composes a report summarizing that day's transactions.
Until recently, invoices, receipts, and reports were all handwritten. This process was time-consuming and left substantial room for error, so Thompson decided to research a handheld solution. The company turned to Baus Systems, a route accounting and distribution systems provider, for a solution. Thompson wanted lightweight and rugged mobile computers that the reps could easily transport from the truck. Baus Systems suggested Honeywell 7400 Dolphin mobile computers, and Thompson purchased 36 of the units (Thompson has since upgraded some of the units to the Dolphin 9500 model). Baus Systems loaded DEX Delivery System software onto the 7400s, which allows reps to generate invoices and automatically transfer information into Thompson's mainframe computer system. The 9500s run route accounting software that allows reps to input sales, returns, cash payments, and inventory transactions on-site, as well as run end-of-day reports.
With the Dolphin units and DEX software, Thompson has real-time inventory visibility and the ability to input orders faster. Rather than waiting to enter reports at end of day, many tasks can be accomplished while at a customer site. Furthermore, customers are provided with more accurate receipts because the solution eliminates the margin for error of the manual process. "Once we began using the mobile computers, we saw a labor savings of 1.5 hours per day by eliminating manual processes for tracking orders and deliveries," says Ron Taylor, director of sales at Thompson Biscuit. "The less time we spend logging information, the more time we can spend in the field selling product and increasing revenue."