Fax to EDI Solution
A business products distributor located in North America was manually processing over 300,000 customer orders each year. Heavy order flow prior to shipping cut-off timeframes and a highly variable daily volume created staffing challenges and inconsistent order turnaround times. Data entry errors and the resulting customer credits created customer satisfaction and profit margin problems.
The answer was an outsourced automated data entry solution with sophisticated “free-form” data extraction from internet fax and email orders. Automating the order entry process saved the company approximately $350,000 a year in direct labor costs. When combined with guaranteed 99.5% data accuracy the company recognized even greater savings in error-related customer credits. Significant rework costs (e.g. re-entry of orders, returns, picking, packing, shipping and excess freight were eliminated. Accurate order fulfillment and consistent order entry prior to cut-off significantly increased customer satisfaction scores.
One of the largest wholesale distributors of business products with annual net sales of $4.6 billion and inventory of 100,000 items from approximately 1,000 different manufacturers. These items include a broad selection of technology products, office products, office furniture, etc. The company sells to over 30,000 customers.
Despite a company-wide effort to process customer orders via EDI, the company continued to receive over 20,000 orders per month via fax and email requiring manual data entry. Customer Service Associates in three different centers manually entered the orders into the order management system with the added pressure of meeting a shipping deadline. As with any manual single-pass data entry process there were many errors, especially during peak processing cycles. Moreover, recurring data entry errors caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of product returns, charge-backs and restocking costs annually.
Due to a complex product catalog, variety of order types received from customers, and he large customer base, finding and training data entry specialists was an on-going challenge. Fluctuating daily order volumes made maintaining appropriate staffing levels very difficult. During peak demand periods order processing lags would greatly decrease customer satisfaction levels.
The company implemented an outsourced automatic data entry solution with sophisticated “free-form” data extraction for their fax and email orders. The solution was able to recognize and capture data from any customer order format with 99.5% accuracy. Order input no longer requires the participation of the company’s order entry staff, which has reduced labor costs.
The company says, “The concept is quite simple. The solution receives fax and email orders on our behalf directly from our customers. They convert the hardcopy order to an EDI-850 electronic purchase order for import into our order management systems. It’s as though the customer had sent it electronic in the first place and is transparent to our customers.”
The solution includes a customized web-based portal to support exception processing and a secure web tool for archiving and storing images of all of the original order documents; Fax to EDI , Fax to E-mail and Email to Fax etc. The solution is completely accessible on demand from any of the company’s workstations. The solution was fully operational within 90 days and required zero capital investments in hardware, software or labor on the part of the company.