Beaulieu Carpet, the world’s third largest carpet producer, has 250 field sales reps across the country selling its products. In the field, sales reps had to write down customer orders, then return to their home offices to enter the order into a database. Orders would then go to a central office, where someone else would key the order into the company’s order processing system. This was a cumbersome process that created many opportunities for mistakes.
Reps were spending 20% to 30% of their time entering orders, managing price changes, and ordering product samples. This slow process equated to losing one day in the field selling every week. Slow order processing led to customer dissatisfaction and a large number of incorrectly priced orders. The carpet pricing database contained more than 3 million records, making it difficult to correctly price each customer’s order. Incorrect order pricing created a significant amount of work for the sales reps to manually correct.
Beaulieu needed a mobile SFA (sales force automation) solution that would provide sales reps immediate access to product data and pricing, as well as allow them to enter orders while at remote locations. Beaulieu Carpet contracted with Optimus Solutions, an IT solutions and services provider, to create an order entry and customer service application for use on wireless mobile devices. The existing IBM iSeries legacy applications are preserved, and the new mobile application interfaces with the existing applications, allowing sales reps immediate access to product information and pricing, as well as the ability to enter orders directly into their Sprint Audiovox 6601 smartphones. The smartphones communicate via Sprint’s wireless data network.
The sales reps can now immediately input orders on their handheld devices, reducing order processing time from more than 2 weeks to 5 minutes. Because orders don’t have to be reentered, order accuracy is increased. Providing the sales reps with immediate access to customer data while in the field has enhanced customer service. And, the sales reps have retrieved their one extra day for selling in the field.