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July 1, 2005
Tim Manns, system network administrator, as told to Colin Beasty
Why CRM? Overton ships large volumes of packages every year. We do about $65 million a year in sales to approximately 3 million customers--99 percent of our business comes through our catalog sales. During the summer time, which is our peak season, we will ship about 8,000 orders a day. Prior to implementing QAS's QuickAddress, any orders that had bad addresses on them UPS would either return to us or charge us with an address-correction fee: It cost $5 for a ground package and $10 for an air package. We needed to find a way to lower that expense. We looked at QuickAddress, because it validates the addresses and would cut our costs.
What were some of your key criteria for selecting a vendor? The main goal was to reduce our shipping costs by eliminating all of the address correction fees. We also wanted something that would work with our existing system. Integration was very important. The software package we're using is Ecometry Commerce Suite, so we needed something that could integrate with that. After an initial search of potential vendors, it became obvious that QAS would be the answer.
How did you get everybody on board? It was an easy sale on the management side, once you run the numbers and look at the potential savings. As far as the end users are concerned, there was some resistance. Once we implemented QAS, the screen shots and screen activity was different, so they had some training to go through. There was some resistance, because the steps were a little different. In the end it really came down to us simply laying down the law. That said, we tried to have them understand from a company standpoint what the benefits were, and why we're doing what we're doing.
What have been the main rewards? The big advantage is the cost savings. We wanted to get our money back off the products we sell, and acquire and maintain valid addresses. Anytime you do anything with a customer's address, whether you mail a catalog or ship a customer a product, that address comes into play as far as keeping your customers satisfied. We run our addresses through a list cleanup: By using QAS we've reduced the number of addresses that have to be run. The cost savings keep snowballing from there.
What are your next steps? QuickAddress solved a specific problem for a specific department within our company, validating our customers' addresses. The implementation of QuickAddress was driven from our warehousing operation and it has done a great job of solving the problem, so we don't have anything else planned. That said, the marketing department runs the Web site and I think there's a lot of potential there.
Don't accept the costs of doing business. Overton accepted the unnecessary address correction payment fees from UPS for years. Don't be afraid to take a closer look at a company expense. Often, the CRM solution is already out there.
Highlight the benefits. Sometimes seasoned employees take longer to adapt to an application change than recent hires. Make sure to take end-user functionality into account when selecting a solution.
Keep training. Many times waiting until the end means the application isn't being fully used when the staff starts using it. Begin training early, and do it often to enable those unexpected benefits to show themselves earlier.
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