Camco is now fully owned by General Electric Appliances Canada, which is part of the Mabe Inc. group. A LANSA customer from 1999 to 2008, Camco continually invested in LANSA-based solutions during that time. Due to the Mabe acquisition of Camco – and the associated duplication of applications when the two companies merged – all of Camco's iSeries applications have been phasing out, as the Mabe parent organization decided to deploy its systems and infrastructure into the Camco organization.
Camco, part of the 6 billion dollar General Electric Appliances group, is Canada's largest manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. Camco used LANSA for the Web for its GE Appliance Centres site, LANSA Commerce Edition for its Business-to-Business Dealer Online site and LANSA Integrator for Application-to-Application integration with third party systems including kiosks at Home Depot stores, the world's largest home improvement retailer.
John Hills, manager of the eBusiness technology group at Camco, says, "With LANSA we can meet our eBusiness requirements and now with LANSA Commerce Edition we have a tool that we can re-use for any Web site we may want to develop. This allows us to be responsive in a timely and cost effective manner."
- Web Sales to Employees
- Consumer Web Sales
- Home Depot Kiosks
- Dealer Online
- The Future
- Company and System Information
Web Sales to Employees
Dave Simmons, General Manager – Market Development, says, "Our process for employee sales was very cumbersome, very manual and very time consuming. Moreover the process was not at all friendly to the employee. We are dealing with Camco and General Electric (GE) Canada, about 11,000 active employees and another few thousand retirees. That is a large population and it consumed a lot of our time."
"About twice a year we used to print order forms for the employee. There would be a limited selection of appliances listed on that form with the appropriate employee price. The employee would fill in the form and send a hardcopy to our customer center. A few days later a customer service rep would open the envelope and enter the order. Then, depending on stock availability, a few days or weeks may go by. Employees were not kept up-to-date. They had to wait for a phone call from the delivery man or they had to phone the customer service center and inquire about their order."
"Now, with the LANSA built Employee sales Web site, we offer a large percentage of our appliance assortment, we acknowledge receipt of the order, show inventory availability, accept credit card payments and give the scheduled delivery date. The site is bi-lingual and offers model comparison, extensive product specifications and product photos. The order now goes immediately and completely automatically into our system. Very often the goods may be delivered a day after the order is placed."
"Replacing that very cumbersome manual process with an automated Web solution, saves us a lot of time and money. At the same time it gives the employee consumer a much better experience."
"The bigger benefit from a sales point of view, is that it has raised the awareness of appliances to GE employees and increased internal sales. "
Consumer Web Sales
Camco under it's GE Appliance Centre Program, has about 40 independent dealers throughout Canada participating in the program. These stores sell GE appliances exclusively and are typically located in secondary markets.
Simmons explains, "Home appliances sales is very competitive and a Web presence is essential. But one central Web site would not be a solution. We are dealing with individual stores that want to uniquely position themselves. We wanted to give these stores the ability to sell over the Web to consumers in their specific area. Each store should be able to set their own pricing, have their own sales campaigns and their own delivery conditions."
"We could re-use the technology from the Employee Web site that we developed earlier, but needed to extend that with customization facilities to the stores. And we had to make these customization facilities very user friendly."
"We decided to make the site postal code driven. You start by entering a postal code and that will bring you into a specific store, for example in 'Pete's GE Appliance Centre' or 'Smithfield GE Appliance Centre'. Once in that store's site, we offer the standard search/select facilities, product specifications, model comparisons, and so on. But you get the specific store prices and special offers."
"The stores have a set of user friendly maintenance screens, with a browser interface over the Web. They can tailor their data, manage their pricing by using formulas or by setting individual product prices, specify their delivery conditions, create their own specials and change their banners."
"The store owner can reflect on his Web section exactly what is happening in his store, without the assistance of programmers or Web editors."
"Web purchasing of appliances is still a small percentage of our sales, but it is growing. The bigger benefit is awareness of the store, awareness of the offering and driving people into the store," concludes Simmons.
Home Depot Kiosks
Hills explains that General Electric Appliances (GEA) in the U.S. has entered into agreements with Home Depot to utilize in-store kiosks to exchange product and order information.
"As part of this arrangement, GEA needed to be able to accept transactions generated by the Home Depot stores, and send transactions back in real-time. Home Depot didn't want to have different systems for the United States and for Canada, so we have adopted the same approach in Canada that Home Depot has with GEA in the United States."
"We receive and process transactions generated by Home Depot kiosks into our system. For example we may receive a request to give stock availability for a particular product. Then we send back a secure Internet transaction, with that availability information, to the Home Depot kiosk right in the store. Or we may receive a request to accept and process an order, and we send back the order number which is then processed in our system. This all happens in real-time while the customer is at a Home Depot kiosk."
"Home Depot orders can be fulfilled and delivered from our warehouse directly to the home address of the customer in a completely automated process. Home Depot stores do not have to stock GE products and Home Depot staff does not have to phone or fax their orders. The end result is savings on both sides and a quicker service to the customer."
"The Home Depot stores send a string of data to us via the Internet. With LANSA Integrator we can interpret that string and process the transaction into our legacy RPG system. We pull information from our legacy system and send a string of information in secure parameterized HTTPS format. It is quite slick and works very well."
"Home Depot could be using any type of system, database or language. I do not know, and I don't have to know. All I do is a get a string of data and away I go."
The end result is savings on both sides and a quicker service to the customer
Camco's central support center in Moncton, New Brunswick has close to 150 staff. This is where all of the orders get called or faxed into. Camco uses EDI with some of their major dealers, but they are very few and far between.
"We have in excess of 1,200 dealers and there is a lot of work involved in taking phone calls and entering orders," explains Hills. "We would like to remove the human intervention out of the order process and move that staff to look after service, repairs and other less standard requests."
"The Dealer Online site is going to be quite different from the employee and consumers sites. Of course we can re-use some logic, but basically we have to start from scratch again. We really have to keep the cost down and meet a very tight time frame for this Dealer online system."
"We decided to use LANSA Commerce Edition. This provides large building blocks and will shorten the Web development cycle. We are well into the project and very close to our first deliverable."
"By giving the dealers online order facilities and access to inventory, account and other information, we can provide faster service to the dealer and provide a significant cost saving in our support center," concludes Hills.
Dan Duffy, president of Mid-Range, Canada's largest iSeries reseller, says, "We helped Camco to upgrade from their AS/400 model D60 and D70 environment to their current models 720 and 170. Camco's legacy RPG core system was ported without any effort. Now Camco's legacy RPG system is extended with LANSA to include eBusiness. This shows not only the strength of iSeries in the eBusiness environment, but also how iSeries and LANSA can help to preserve and extend your investment in existing IT infrastructure."
Hills adds "we did look at a couple of other alternatives for Web development. But once we saw what the LANSA software could do we made our choice. We were quite impressed with how quickly we could produce a Web site with LANSA and how easy it was integrate with our RPG core system."
"Any Web site we offer has to be available in French and English. With LANSA's multi-lingual facilities this was easy without having to create a separate site for each language."
"And when a browser interface is not required, LANSA Integrator gives us tremendous flexibility in dealing over the Internet with any computer system of any of our business partners."
"We have a host of new sites that we do want to bring up. This includes sites for GE Appliances, but also for our Hotpoint, Moffat and Monogram lines. With LANSA Commerce Edition we now have a tool that we can use again, and again. This tool will allow the rapid development of modules with a high degree of quality, in a timely and cost effective manner without the need for an "army" of staff."
Hills concludes, "We are happy with the iSeries and how easily LANSA integrates with our core RPG system. But just as important, we don't want to be locked into iSeries 400 and LANSA's openness is very important to us."
LANSA allows rapid development without the need for an army of staff
Company and System Information
- Camco is 51 percent owned by General Electric Canada. General Electric is a diversified services, technology and manufacturing company that operates in more than 150 countries. GE employs over 300,000 staff worldwide. Revenues for the year 2000 were 129.9 billion dollars. GE Appliances (GEA) is one of General Electric's eleven core businesses. GEA sells more than 12 million appliances each year, in 150 world markets under the Monogram®, GE Profile™, GE®, and Hotpoint® brand names. Camco is the GE Appliances business in Canada.
- Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement retailer, with over 1,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Chile and Argentina.
- For more information about Camco visit www.geappliances.ca
- For more information about LANSA and IBM business partner Mid-Range visit www.midrange.ca