E-solutions way to go for e-commerce

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E-solutions: electronic invoicing systems can save companies time and money.

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 retailer, the application of sophisticated digital solutions to the intervening steps of the order process has delivered enormous business benefits.

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 rapid growth was presenting it with 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.

Think Office Technology, a Konica Minolta authorised dealer, was engaged to audit CraftOnline’s business processes from end-to-end.

techno1Group operations analyst Damien Rose concluded that a data capture solution would save the business money and time.

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 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.

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 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 car 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 simple and easy to install, CraftOnline has reduced labour costs considerably, and allowed staff to work more efficiently on other areas of the business.

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.

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, I would recommend any business to look at these solutions,” says IT Manager Tony Fox.





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