This case study originally published in May 2004.
Brewers' Distributor Ltd. (BDL) is Western Canada's leading distribution and container return service for the brewing industry. BDL uses LANSA to provide Web self-service and real-time machine-to-machine integration to over 7,000 customers. High volume customers can send orders in a variety of formats directly from their POS system, while a rapidly growing number of smaller customers are using the Web order facility. Both solutions integrate in real-time with BDL's JD Edwards system.
Mike Benson, IT Manager of BDL, says, "Internet ordering eliminates phone and fax delays for the customer. There is no re-keying of data, we have reduced follow up calls and accuracy has improved. LANSA was the only vendor who could offer an integrated solution for both Web and M2M transactions."
LANSA was the only vendor who could offer an integrated solution for both Web and M2M transactions
BDL handles warehousing and distribution for the Labatt and Molson breweries, which together hold over 85 percent of the Canadian beer market. In some provinces, BDL also distributes other beer products, such as GWB, Sleeman, Big Rock, Oland, Santa Fe and Guinness. Customers create on average 28,000 orders per month. BDL takes all orders at its Calgary call center and manually enters phone, fax and email orders into its JD Edwards order entry system.
With ever expanding product lines and a growing customer base, call center costs were rising. Benson explains, "In all cases we incurred the data entry expenses. For fax and phone orders we carried the long distance costs as well. Staffing was difficult to plan as 40 percent of all orders are placed on Mondays."
"Accuracy, especially for phone orders, was not optimal. Depending on how far down the road an error goes, it can be very expensive to fix. If the wrong goods have been delivered, we bear the transportation costs to exchange the product and the labor that customer service and administration spend to fix the issue. We wanted to put control and responsibility of the order into the hands of the customer."
"We also wanted to provide customers with an easy way to order, without phone or fax delays, and at a time convenient for them."
"We carry about 250 to 300 product lines, depending on the province. Most customers, such as hotels, restaurants and bars, will order only 10 to 20 products at a time. A Web site is good for these customers, but large liquor chains typically order 100 or more different products. No one wants to sit there and key in a 100 different products."
"Our larger customers already produce fax orders automatically from their POS or purchasing systems. Having to manually key those orders into a Web site would be a step backwards. We wanted a Machine-to-Machine solution for these larger customers."
Our first production order went through only four weeks after development started
Online Web orders
Using LANSA Commerce Edition, BDL implemented a browser-based solution that integrates with JD Edwards and includes product selection & ordering, order management, inquiry, user authentication, contact management and administrative modules.
"With the help of LANSA Professional Services, we started requirements analysis in the first week of September. Our first production order went through on October 11th, only four weeks after development started," says Benson.
Using a question-and-answer process LANSA Commerce Edition collects information about how to create Web functions and integrate these with existing data and programs. The Web functions can pass parameters to existing programs, whether they are written in RPG, COBOL or other languages, so BDL could re-use existing price calculations that include complex rules to determine customer discount and other logic that may differ per province.
Data duplication is avoided by mapping existing file and field information to LANSA Commerce Edition and extending where needed with new data structures. Existing files stay unchanged and existing programs do not have to be recompiled or updated in any way.
"Integration with JD Edwards was easy as we could invoke existing logic and re-use existing data," continues Benson. "In most cases we used JD Edwards standard APIs. There were just a few APIs that we had to modify or create."
"Customers can view a full and up-to-date product catalogue with real-time inventory levels. Business rules, such as minimum order value and ordering multiples, are immediately notified to the customer. And customers get an instant confirmation of order number, pricing and delivery."
"Our customers love it and we see Web orders grow week after week."
Integration with JD Edwards was easy as we could invoke existing logic and re-use existing data
To accept electronic transactions directly from its customers into their JD Edwards system BDL used LANSA Sell-Side Direct that also uses question-and-answer prompting to integrate with existing programs and select the data elements to be exchanged. Transport layer is real-time HTTP for multiple file formats including XML, CSV, TSV and XLS.
"The liquor chains use POS Systems that automatically re-order when inventory levels drop below a certain point," explains Benson. "Using LANSA we are now able to accept these electronic orders directly from our customers' POS system into our JD Edwards order fulfillment system."
"There is no keying of data on our side or the customer side, no telephone or fax costs, no data-entry costs, better accuracy and faster turn around."
"So far the only request has been for comma delimited text files," says Benson "but we are ready for Excel format and can do other formats on short notice using the same LANSA Integrator engine."
Customers who do not have the infrastructure to upload files directly to BDL can use LANSA Integrator's User Agent, a Java client, to search their drives, attach a file or XML document, validate the format and send it to BDL dynamically. After the order is placed, BDL sends back a confirmation and emails the invoice to the customer.
"It is quite neat and makes the process easier for the customer." says Benson. "The POS vendor just creates a file with order information and LANSA User Agent takes care of the rest."
Annual data entry and labor savings are equivalent to three full time staff
"Internet ordering eliminates phone and fax delays for the customer. There is no re-keying of data, we have a reduced number of follow up calls and accuracy has improved."
"We provide better service to our customers and save at the same time. Internet orders have grown from six percent to almost 19 percent for orders company-wide. More significantly, the number of products ordered via the Web is over 33 percent."
"Annual data entry and labor savings are equivalent to three full time staff or $100,000 Canadian. Long distance phone expenses have come down by $10,000 Canadian per year."
"Keeping costs low and providing faster service helps us to stay competitive."
"We have our own fleet to service major cities, but use third-party carriers in smaller cities and the country. We are planning to build a self service site so carriers can bid for work."
"We had lots of vendors who could help us to build a self-service Web site, but that only addressed part of the issue. With LANSA, we can address the different needs of both our small volume and large volume customers. LANSA's Web and M2M technologies were easy to develop and easy to integrate with JD Edwards, allowing us to look after both systems with our own staff."
With LANSA, we can address the different needs of both our small volume and large volume customers
Company and System Information
- Brewers' Distributor Ltd., headquartered in Calgary, Alberta Canada, is a joint venture company owned by Labatt Breweries of Canada and Molson Breweries for the wholesale distribution of beer and the collection of returnable beer containers within Canada's Western Provinces, as well as the Northwest Territories. BDL operates nine distribution centers and four cross-dock facilities.
- For more information visit: www.bdl.ca
- BDL uses an IBM iSeries model 830 for production, linked to a model 170 for the Web site and M2M transactions.
- BDL's eCommerce solution integrates with World V7.3.11 software from JD Edwards. For more information visit: www.jdedwards.com.
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