For Robin Ruth, Streamlined Sales Are in the Bag

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Robin Ruth, one of the largest global distributors of souvenir totes, scarves, and fashion accessories, is most commonly known for its ubiquitous "city bags," colorful shoulder bags adorned with names of locations like Cannes, London, New York, and Dubai, sold at kiosks and department stores around the world.

From its debut in Amsterdam in 2002 until today, Robin Ruth has expanded its product line to include apparel and specialty items like passport covers, luggage tags, and screened umbrellas, which are sold at more than 10,000 point-of-sale locations in airports, malls, and resorts in 45 countries. With a product assortment in the 20,000-plus vicinity, order speed and accuracy have become increasingly important to business operations.

"In our business, time is of the essence," explains Josh Wenger, field sales manager for Robin Ruth's New York office. "If you write an order at twelve o'clock, it's got to ship at twelve-thirty, so that way we can continue the sales cycle and continue to get reorders on a weekly basis."

Formerly, wholesale sales teams had to rely on bulky product catalogs and print order forms to sell their merchandise to outlets and department stores while on the road. Robin Ruth's sales team would fax orders to an administrative staff member, who would manually re-enter information, which made the ordering process inefficient and more prone to error.

"It was taking a really long time to ship orders," Wenger says. "If you made an order on a Monday, it wouldn't ship until two days later, so the time issue was a big problem."

Looking for a way to make the process quicker and more accurate, Robin Ruth turned to WRNTY, a developer of wholesale CRM solutions. The software developer's SupeRep application designed for Web and iPad use features a QuickBooks plug-in, so sales reps can import orders and product data right into their QuickBooks accounting software program, allowing them to link their selling activity to back-office functions.

Sales reps and sales managers can place orders and generate invoices, track product performance, and determine product availability right from their iPads. The application enabled Robin Ruth to shave two days off the order-to-ship process.

"The ability to generate orders that are connected to our inventory system while visiting our customers increased the productivity of our sales reps by more than thirty percent, resulting in more than a twenty-five percent increase in sales while cutting the admin cost in our warehouse," Wenger notes.

Because SupeRep integrates a client company's existing ERP and accounting systems with online and offline ordering modes, designed for reps who may or may not have a WiFi connection while out in the field, an automatic synch to the product catalog helps keep inventory up to date.

With the bulk of Robin Ruth's business coming from fashion and lifestyle-related companies, using an iPad for product demonstrations has been useful from a brand standpoint, helping it maintain a professional and forward-thinking image before potential buyers.

Using SupeRep, sales reps can define their own product categories and use dynamic and static filters to feature their merchandise in a manner conducive to the selling situation. With an iPad, they can zoom in on products and display related merchandise for additional items that might match a particular order. SupeRep's cross-selling functionalities have enabled Robin Ruth to increase its average order size by 20 percent.

"It's just an easier platform for showing merchandise than a regular PDF file," Wenger emphasizes. "In addition to helping the sales reps, on the back end, it's more organized for my office. When an order comes in [through the SupeRep and QuickBooks integration], all they have to do is invoice the customer."

The Payoff

By using WRNTY's SupeRep tool for the iPad, Robin Ruth has:

  • cut time-to-ship on warehouse orders by 2 days;
  • seen a 25 percent increase in sales while reducing administrative costs in the warehouse;
  • increased sales rep productivity by more than 30 percent; and
  • increased average order size by about 20 percent.

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