2 page Case Study
Posted: 6/27/2013
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Noviplast Merchandiser Builds Custom Windows Store App to Improve Service and Cash Flow

Dutch merchandiser Noviplast employs more than 15 mobile staffers who were using paper-based processes to track in-store inventory and take orders. The company deployed Samsung ATIV Tab 7 tablets running Windows 8 Pro and their own custom-built Windows Store app to automate these tasks and improve customer service. Now orders are sent in email to the head office for daily invoice processing, expediting payment by two weeks and improving inventory tracking.

Business Needs
Noviplast products stand out in distinctive display cases accompanied by promotional videos in stores throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. The company’s merchandisers regularly visit each retail outlet to restock the displays, load new videos, and take orders.

“While we differentiate ourselves through our video displays, the market has become more challenging, so we have to stay ahead of the competition in the way we present our items and provide services to our customers,” says Jan de Wit, Managing Director of Noviplast.

Until recently, Noviplast merchandisers used pen and paper as their main business tools, taking inventory and collecting new orders by filling out time-consuming paper forms. It could take a week before the merchandisers finished their rounds and returned to the head office with all the orders. “I manually entered all the data into our accounting system to create the invoices, which could take up to another week,” says Hannie de Hair, in the financial department at Noviplast. “So it was two weeks before we could begin fulfilling customers’ orders.”

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* Our custom Windows Store app automates the merchandising operation at Noviplast for more efficient operations and improved customer satisfaction. Windows 8 Pro is now the foundation of our business. *

Peter Hoogendoorn
Commercial Director, Noviplast

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This time lag also made it difficult to assess inventory levels—for Noviplast and its customers. “For accurate inventory, we need real-time data. Also, our customers were asking for invoices within 24 hours so they could track their stock accurately,” says Peter Hoogendoorn, Commercial Director at Noviplast.

To improve efficiency and customer service, Noviplast needed a mobile computing platform for its merchandisers that would interoperate with the company’s accounting and inventory systems.

Solution
For advice on the best operating system for introducing mobile computing, Noviplast turned to long-time IT partner Datamex Automatisering, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Datamex recommended upgrading from Windows XP to the Windows 8 Pro operating system. “Noviplast could really take advantage of the advancements in mobile computing that Windows 8 Pro offers,” says Rik Peters, Chief Executive Officer at Datamex Automatisering. “Noviplast had a specific mobile work scenario, but an iOS device wouldn’t work because we couldn’t easily communicate with our applications or back office systems using an iOS device. We also wanted to develop a Windows Store app for the merchandisers.”

Says Hoogendoorn, “We’ve had a long and beneficial relationship with Datamex. So when we heard about the possibility for an app and saw how easily we could upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8 Pro and how intuitive it was to work with the new operating system, we decided to take our business further with Windows 8 Pro.”

Datamex worked with Noviplast on the Windows Store app, called the Full Service Merchandizing Tool. The app had to enable digital signatures and offer print and email capabilities right from the store. Merchandisers carry the tablet on their rounds and use the Windows Store app to register the products they need to refill at the store and print an order slip for the store manager to sign. All orders are emailed directly to head office where they are processed in the accounting software to become invoices. “Printing using a Windows Store app is easier compared with an iPad or Android device,” says Guido Neele, Software Engineer at Datamex Automatisering. “It took us only eight months to create, test, and deploy the app.”

Noviplast deployed four Samsung ATIV Tab 7 tablets running Windows 8 Pro to its merchandisers and 10 other tablets to employees for inventory and fulfillment.

Benefits
By adopting tablets running Windows 8 Pro, Noviplast introduced a modern, mobile, and connected way of working to its employees. “Our custom Windows Store app automates the merchandising operation at Noviplast for more efficient operations and improved customer satisfaction,” says Hoogendoorn. “Windows 8 Pro is now the foundation of our business.” Since deploying the mobile platform, Noviplast is benefitting from:
  • Improved cash flow. Now that merchandisers use the app to send orders to head office immediately, Noviplast isn’t waiting for weeks to begin processing the invoices. “Because we receive orders instantly, we can process invoices immediately,” says de Hair. “We are paid two weeks faster.”

  • Increased efficiency. Since Noviplast replaced merchandisers’ pens and paper with Windows 8 Pro tablets running an easy-to-use Windows Store app, the company is seeing significant operational efficiencies. “Just getting rid of all the paperwork is going to save me a couple of days a week,” says Bennie Steintjes, a merchandiser at Noviplast. Adds merchandiser Jeroen Baten, “On the tablet, I’ve got everything I need in one place, and I just swipe to go from price lists to order stats to customer details. I learned to use Windows 8 in five minutes, and it’s saving me hours every week.”

  • Reduced data errors. Now that merchandising information exchange is electronic, Noviplast can trust that its data is accurate. ”Not only have we saved on paper costs, we’ve reduced order entry errors and invoicing errors,” says Hoogendoorn.

  • Better inventory tracking. As soon as an order is placed, the inventory system is updated. “We used to be behind up to two weeks on our inventory tracking; now we have up-to-the-minute statistics, so we can plan optimal inventory levels with confidence,” says Hoogendoorn. “Our customers can also track their stock better.”

  • Improved competitive advantage. Working with Windows 8 Pro on a tablet lifted the image that Noviplast presents to the customer. “The Windows 8 Pro tablet is a professional tool that sets us apart,” says Hoogendoorn. “Our customers like that they can sign digitally and get their invoices within 24 hours and the signed proof of delivery in their mailbox within a second.”

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Solution Overview



Organization Size: 20 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Klundert, Netherlands, Noviplast is a merchandiser that sells “impulse buy” home and garden products throughout the Netherlands and Belgium under its brands StarClean, Star Cuisine, and Star Tool.


Hardware

  • Samsung ATIV Tab 7

Software and Services
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows Store

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods

Country/Region
Netherlands

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Mobility

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Datamex Automatisering

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