The Jay group, based in Pennsylvania USA, is a full-service marketing support and sales promotion company. The Jay group built a Visual LANSA-based solution for processing rebates, sweepstakes and premiums and a LANSA for the Web-based solution to give its clients real-time online access to customer information. LANSA for the Web is also used for a solution that outsources online promotional sales for its clients.
Kathy Wee, Director Information Technology at the Jay group, says, "We can now return a rebate in half the time of our competitors. Faster returns result in better customer satisfaction. We get less calls regarding late or missing checks and fewer replacement checks need to be issued. This reduces the cost of running the program for the client, which makes us more competitive."
We can return a rebate in half the time of our competitors
- The Challenge
- Integrated Promotions Processing
- Online Promotional Sales
- Power and Flexibility
- Company and System Information
The Jay group provides a variety of marketing and sales support services, but promotional processing and sales fulfillment continue to be among its core businesses. Promotional processing consists mainly of rebates, premiums and sweepstakes. Rebates involve collecting customer data and mailing a rebate check to qualifying submissions.
"Rebates are actually not as simple to process as one might think," explains Wee. "Every rebate program is different and needs to be customized. Transaction volumes are high, duplication checking and auditing to reduce customer fraud is complicated, U.S. and Canadian postal sorts and regulations must be met and very tight controls must be in place to safeguard check dollar values, bank accounts and bank balances. Plus we have to meet the coupon deadlines."
"While we can handle high-volume rebates, such as the Xerox Green World Alliance Program, we aim mainly at high value and highly customized rebate programs," explains Wee.
"In some programs rebates are around $5,000 each. Criteria and calculations can be very complex as well. In a program for a flooring manufacturer, the rebates to sales representatives of retailers were based on complicated conditions and calculations of square yards sold for specific flooring."
"We cannot afford to make mistakes. Validations and calculations need to be fail-proof. And if someone calls to find out the status of a $5,000 rebate, we better be able to trace that rebate and know exactly its status."
"Many of our competitors outsource their data entry overseas and that typically creates quality issues. All of our auditing and data entry is done locally. Our data quality is extremely high and very well monitored."
"A few years ago, we determined that our old RPG system was not helping us to stay competitive. We needed a quality system that could be developed quickly, customized easily and would allow decision-making and flexible job setup by non-IT staff."
"Our Sales Fulfillment division was also looking for a more efficient IT environment to extend their order entry and fulfillment system to the Web. With both projects in mind we looked at several solutions, and selected LANSA," adds Wee.
"We are an AS/400-centric shop, so sticking with a familiar platform and development environment was important. We also liked LANSA's rapid learning curve for RPG developers. Lastly, we wanted a rapid application development path."
"We use Visual LANSA for functionality that is available to internal staff and LANSA for the Web for access by clients. The system integrates with the RPG logic and allows access to reports from our order management system."
Clients reduced their costs by real-time self-service
Integrated Promotions Processing
"Most of the validations occur in the Visual LANSA system when the rebate submission is entered," explains Wee. "During the night submissions are checked against an address-verification database, and against other submissions in case the program stipulates that only one rebate per household is allowed. If any information is wrong, or if it is a duplicate submission or suspected fraudulent submission, the submission is marked as unqualified. Depending on the rebate program and the nature of the disqualification, we may send a notification to the person."
"Then, on a regular schedule, we produce the checks and mail them. A number of checks may come back as undeliverable, for example, because a person moved. For those returned checks we go back to the transaction and mark it as check-returned. We want to be able to say what happened with the check when a person calls us."
"There are other sides to the application as well. We build up valuable customer and demographic information for our clients, track mail and deal with the bank accounts against which the checks are cashed. And our clients have Web access to their rebate program data and reports," says Wee.
"We process rebates significantly quicker than our competitors. They usually return rebates in 8 to 12 weeks. We can do it easily in less than half that time," says Wee.
"Not only does this give us a competitive edge, it also increases customer satisfaction. We get fewer calls about late or missing checks and issue fewer replacement checks. This reduces the cost of running the program for the client, which makes us more competitive."
"The system, integrated with RPG logic and reports, allows for tighter validations and suspect fraud checking, online inquiry and efficient mailing. But most of all it allows us at any time to trace exactly where in the processing flow a submission is."
"Clients reduce costs because they can perform their own research online using real-time inquiry and reports built with LANSA for the Web. Previously, these queries were time consuming for us to answer, but now can be handled by the client themselves."
"Training costs for our staff were greatly reduced because of easy navigation and the intuitive graphical interface of the Visual LANSA application that we use internally. Our Contact Center needs less talk time, because the number of calls is reduced and because we can respond more efficiently. Some high-volume rebate programs may have 15 to 30 staff, so the savings are enormous."
"Customizing programs in the old system always required IT services, but the new system is flexible enough to allow a business user to set up a client program. This makes us more responsive to our clients and lowers costs."
"Margins are tight in promotional processing. LANSA gave us a quick Return on Investment by allowing us to develop the system quickly and with few resources," adds Wee.
Costs have been reduced and we are more competitive
Online Promotional Sales
Several companies have outsourced online promotional sales to the Jay group. For example, when you visit the online shops on the Ronzoni or San Giorgio Web sites, you actually go to LANSA-based sites hosted on the Jay group's iSeries.
Ronzoni and San Giorgio are two popular brands of the New World Pasta group. While New World deals mostly with distributors and retailers, there are a large number of consumers who are very loyal to their pasta, and they wanted to let these consumers buy gift baskets and pasta in bulk.
"They decided to outsource it to us completely," continues Wee. "We keep the stock, take the orders, process the payments, then package and ship the goods. We send the gift baskets with a nice gift card. When the gift basket is delivered we email the person who bought the gift to let them know that the recipient actually received the gift. This all happens in the LANSA system."
"The sites we build and host for clients are template driven and soft coded. Without the need for a programmer, we put the logo and the buttons wherever the client wants and give the site the look and feel they want. With LANSA we can set up the site very quickly and very competitively."
"We hardly had to re-write any code in the RPG-based order management system that runs in the background. This system has hundreds of custom rules and we didn't want to write or maintain a separate system just to take Internet orders."
"One day we may replace the RPG-based order entry system or run it on another platform. Although currently both the LANSA-based Web site and the order entry system run on an iSeries, we didn't want to integrate directly on database level. We wanted to keep the coupling between the site and the order management system loose, but its integration tight. We use MQ Series to talk between the LANSA front end and order management back end."
With LANSA we can set up a site very quickly and very competitively
Power and Flexibility
"We like the fact that LANSA is portable. If one of our clients insisted that we run their Web site on Window or Linux, then LANSA can do this. This flexibility is very attractive for us," says Wee.
"We work mostly with Fortune 1000 and large regional companies. It is our goal to become business partners with our clients. Partnering and our quality process have resulted in an average client tenure of 14 years. We want to meet client needs now and grow with them in the future."
"We are committed to keeping pace with today's rapidly changing information technology. With LANSA we have the power and flexibility to properly support and efficiently manage the unique requirements of every customer's program. We have built the infrastructure to expand our service and stay competitive without eroding our margins," concludes Wee.
If required we can also run a site on Windows or Linux
Company and System Information
- The Jay group is a privately owned full service marketing support and sales promotion company with over 300 employees and 350,000 square feet of warehouse space in their four facilities in Pennsylvania. Jay group services include product and literature fulfillment, call center, packing/assembly, promotional processing and product sampling.
- The Jay group has an iSeries model 820 for operational systems and a model 270 for Web systems.
- The Integrated Promotions Processing System integrates with Acom's EZPrint for check printing and the Per/Sort and Per/Zip products from WorksRight Software for U.S. Postal Service mailing functions. The Promotional Sales sites integrate with an in-house order management system.
- The Jay group host sites at prince.newworldpasta.com, www.ronzoni.com or www.sangiorgio.com. These promotional sites typically have a campaign driven and temporary character.
- For more information on the Jay group visit: www.jaygroup.com