The "idea of integration" becomes real for a company struggling with a virtually obsolete order management system.
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It's a difficult thing when a B2B direct marketer of office and warehouse supplies can't manage its catalog and order placement system, but that's the situation Global Industrial found itself in at the end of 2004.
Global's legacy system had been operating on multiple databases for years, according to Vice President Jeff Gregory. The system was approaching complete obsolescence. "We had two things in mind: One was to get off the legacy order management system, with its limitations and inefficiencies," Gregory says. "We were also looking to put in a new contact management system. Together, these led us to the idea of integration."
Global eventually chose Profit Center Software (PCS) to partner with for the implementation. PCS, a subsidiary of Systemax, offers a slew of on-demand solutions, both individually and as part of the PCS Profitability Suite. Applications range from the front end to the back end, with BI and point of sale as well. George Winter, executive vice president of marketing, saw the problem clearly. "Global was toggling between contact management and order management. What good is CRM if you can't get orders into the system?"
PCS changed the legacy of siloed data by offering a "single event," a sole data repository that would eliminate the time, money, and errors involved with manually updating multiple systems. Instead of just a price and brief text description for each product, reps would be able to see full details of a customer's order, as well as transaction history, communications, and more. "PCS recommended a phased approach over 18 months. We got the CRM components early," Gregory says. "Product management is another critical piece, considering the number of SKUs we carry."
There was some initial concern over user adoption, since Global had been doing things the old way for a very long time--there were legacy processes to go along with the legacy systems. Fortunately, ease of use and greatly improved functionality quickly won over workers. "As our people worked with the new system, comments came back overwhelmingly in its favor," Gregory says. As familiarity set in, sales and customer service reps were able to reduce order placement time by as much as 30 percent. Duplicate records are a thing of the past, and marketers can track the effectiveness of online and paper mail campaigns as never before. In addition, Global can get new reps up to speed much more quickly, since they only have to learn to navigate one modern enterprise system, not a raft of archaic ones.
The results have been "tremendous. We finally got out of the 1970s with our technology," Gregory says. There's been an increase in Web sales of 500 percent, and in overall sales of 75 percent. "Hence our name, Profit Center," says Fianna Sogomonyan, director of corporate communications for PCS. "We built our system with the goal of creating a product that would allow retailers and multichannel merchants to enhance the bottom line."
Since implementing Profit Center Software, Global Industrial has:
seen a 500 percent increase in Web sales, and a 75 percent increase in overall sales;
reduced order placement time by as much as 30 percent; and
created one live, real-time Web-based system from several disparate legacy