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SME Business News

E-tailer crafts a new document strategy

  • Written by Stevan Caldwell


Konica Minolta crafts a new document strategy for a growing e-tailer

Snapshot Overview

Challenge
  • Rapid growth processing over 2,000 orders per week
  • Required an integrated print solution to help administrative and inventory management
Solution
  • A tailored solution including a Konica Minolta multifunction device, document processing technology and workflow 

Craft Online saves at least four hours a day

It’s an ironic fact that the end result of e-commerce is invariably something delivered in a cardboard box or an envelope with a printed packing slip detailing the order. While this remains true for CraftOnline, one of Australia’s largest online craft products, supplies the application of sophisticated digital solutions to the intervening steps of the order process has delivered enormous business benefits.

Headquartered in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, CraftOnline provides its customers with high quality craft products and art supplies. It offers over 150,000 scrapbooking, art and craft supplies at craftonline.com.au. A series of associated sites offering a range of beads, gemstones, and packaging products extends this to an additional 30,000 products lines. CraftOnline employs 20 staff nationwide and has a large warehousing base on the Sunshine Coast as well as manufacturing interests in China.

The Challenge

Rapid growth was presenting several challenges including dealing with processing more than 2,000 orders per week, along with associated administrative headaches, growing support requirements, inventory management and the overall cost of maintaining its document management infrastructure.
 
CraftOnline had invested more in hardware than in solutions for workflow, but as it grew, it had to implement a cost-effective document management and workflow solutions for its online business.
 
Each order had to be manually batch printed, individually sorted and stapled. It was the CEO’s job to start work each day at 4am to undertake this task and have the orders ready each day for the warehouse staff, who then manually located the ordered products. The second copy of each order, which is used for order pricking, checking and auditing is retained as a record for future reference. 

Solution

Think Office Technology, a Konica Minolta authorised dealer, was engaged to audit CraftOnline’s business processes from end-to-end. Group Operations Analyst Damien Rose conclude that a data capture solution would save the business money and time.
 
This resulted in a platform in late 2014 employing Konica Minolta bizhub 552 MFP, PSI: Capture Technology and FileBound Electronic Document Management System and Workflow Automation.
 
Think Office Technology designed a tailored solution for CraftOnline that involved capturing and splitting daily multi-page order files.
 
The e-tailer utilises a dedicated e-commerce platform VPASP which delivers a bulk multi-page PDF file several times a day detailing hundreds of orders to be dispatched from the warehouse that day. This PDF contains two copies of each other.
 
The acquisition of PSI:Capture and FileBound Electronic Document Management System and Workflow Automation introduced a range of efficiencies and time savings.
 
Once PSI:Capture has detected the individual orders and split up the huge PDF file, the duplicate order forms are placed into a folder watched by PageScope Direct Print, which delivers them for printing and stapling on the MFP. To save time, and reduce errors at the dispatch end of the process a barcode is added to the top of each order indicating the order number, this is then able to be scanned into the freight management software to retrieve the customer and print the shipping label.
 
After the order is dispatched with one copy of the order form, and the duplicate order is scanned into FileBound Electronic Document Management System and Workflow Automation with the barcode identifying the order number and ensuring it is filed correctly.
 
This has cut down on a huge amount of paper storage for CraftOnline. The added benefit is that archived orders can be retrieved quickly via a multiple search criteria if there is ever a discrepancy or a query regarding an order.

A second area of process improvement was the warehouse inventory management. CraftOnline receives invoices from its suppliers as a PDF with accompanying CSV file, which can be stored, interpreted, compared and managed by another solution, Flow.

The Result

The integrated solution, which collates the information for upload to the online store, has saved approximately eight hours of admin time per week. This integrated solution allows for goods to be automatically processed into the shopping cart and has the benefit of immediately identifying any stock items that are required for orders still awaiting shipment.
 
Many of these functions used to be done manually, and by automating the process it has not only saved time, but reduced the human error factor.

By implementing a business solution that was smile and easy to install, access and use, CraftOnline has reduced labour costs considerably, and allowed staff to work more efficiently on other areas of the business. 

Next Steps

Future plans include integrating automated accounts payable processing, support ticketing and other internal processes that can benefit from the workflow systems.
 
CraftOnline.com.au are now working on an ‘Order by Request’ system that 
will utilise the power of their workflow system to increase their product range and further.
 
This system will allow customers to order a huge range of additional products that CraftOnline does not currently hold, but can order and dispatch quickly as they arrive.
 
The feedback from CraftOnline has been stellar to say the least, and the IT department are now looking at every process that can be automated and streamlined utilising this system.
 
“Having seen the power of these systems, and the associated cost savings, would recommend any business to look at these solutions” says IT Manager Tony Fox.

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