JD Williams takes control of its supply chain

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Direct home shopping company JD Williams installed an order management system from Kewill to help boost its direct dispatch business to its two million customers.

The company was looking to expand its online orders as well as its direct delivery business, but its previous systems and processes weren’t up to the task.

David Schofield, JD Williams direct dispatch manager, says: “We were a long-established user of EDI but the fees were quite high, something that deterred some suppliers from doing business with us. We also recognised that new developments in EDI technology using the internet offered us significant opportunities.

“The system was not totally automated. We lost time by having to print out documents. We also had limited visibility into transactions which created all sorts of problems in terms of claims risks and goods not received.

“For example, when we placed an order with a supplier we had no sight of the parcel until it was delivered, which at times, meant that it might actually not have been received by the customer in the first place.

“This also meant that, we could not easily tell the difference between a lost order that was subsequently fulfilled or a received order that was delivered late. All in all, this gave us reduced control over the supply chain.”

As a result, JD Williams opted for Kewill Trade order management software. This system builds on the company’s existing IT and e-commerce investment, integrating with enterprise applications and trading partners’ back-office applications.

It incorporates key areas of the supply chain such as order management, dispatch management, delivery management, stock management and invoice management.

“We have a better understanding of what is happening at any moment because we are sharing the same information as our suppliers, meaning we can both improve our efficiency. We have improved control of the process more than ever before and we can now identify and alleviate issues much earlier in the process,” says Schofield.
“With our previous EDI system, suppliers were faced with relatively high start-up costs, which deterred many of them from signing up. JD Williams has been able to make the new system mandatory for suppliers because even the smallest supplier only needs a PC. Training is provided on site and suppliers can be up and running within a matter of days.

“The system allows us to add new suppliers swiftly and the ability to promptly adjust our supply chain, which means that we can take advantage of new business opportunities very quickly.  We now have over 250 suppliers on the system and our supplier base has doubled over the past two years.”

The company says it has saved 24 hours on order processing because it is now all done in real time. Account data is more accurate and service is generally much faster.

Overall customer service has improved as a result of the drop-off in claims made as a result of  orders that never arrived, were incorrect or late. This has fallen from two to 0.6 per cent.

The number of returns and cancelled orders has also dropped. And it has cut its telephone costs for outbound and inbound calls because it receives proportionally less goods-not-received queries and these are also closed more quickly than before.

Schofield says: “Where invoices used to go through several departments, they now only need to be verified once, so less resource is required. Suppliers don’t need to chase for payment and there are reduced queries on settlement discounts.”

JD Williams has also been able to expand the number of lines it can take from individual suppliers; taking 2,500 from one supplier in particular.

The system is modular, meaning JD can select as many or as few modules as it requires, so it can implement and improve at its own pace. The company now plans to add more reporting capabilities.

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