||We opted for Microsoft because our company already has considerable development competencies using Microsoft technology and we really always get first-class support from Microsoft.
| Lars Weiler
FÜR SIE Handelsgenossenschaft e.G.
Until recently, the order process at the FÜR SIE trade fair was carried out in a cumbersome way whereby six weeks before the fair, approximately 180 folders containing current product lists (order sets) were sent out to registered members. At the fair, exhibitors
would provide members with hard copy lists of their product offerings, on which they were to hand-write their required order quantities and return them to the suppliers. Once the fair was over, additional steps were required to enter the data from each order
form into the computer system, a time-consuming process which took two to four weeks to complete.
Looking for a faster, more efficient way of managing purchasing, the idea of digitally executing the order process on-site with the help of a tablet-based application seemed to make obvious sense for FÜR SIE.
“The trend towards mobile devices has grown in the field of logistics and has opened up new ways of executing the order process much more expediently,” said Lars Weiler, IT Director, FÜR SIE.
FÜR SIE reached out to Microsoft Services to help design and deploy a customized purchasing app that could be used on mobile devices by members at the trade fair. “We opted for Microsoft because our company already has considerable development competencies
using Microsoft technology and we really always get first-class support from Microsoft,” said Weiler.
FÜR SIE worked collaboratively with Microsoft to determine custom app requirements through a User Experience Workshop and defined them schematically in the form of wireframes. With close consultation with specialist departments, the customized app was then
implemented based on the Windows 8 Modern UI.
At the next trade fair, every exhibitor received a Windows 8 tablet with the FÜR SIE app tile prominently placed on the start-up screen. Every tablet was preconfigured with current product offerings and delivered to respective exhibitors.
Members can now enter specific order quantities for each product offering within the app, and all of the data is stored locally on the tablet.
In the “Order” area, a list provides a clear overview of all orders placed and stored locally to date. The current order status is color-coded (gray for “No order available”, green for “Order saved and successfully sent”, yellow for “Order saved, but no
yet sent”, and red for “Order saved, but not successfully sent”). From this overview, the user can edit and finally confirm his/her orders and transmit them online. If the user is not online, the orders are stored on the tablet and flagged in red to be transmitted
at a later time.
“The automatic data capture via tablet significantly reduces the time spent on the order process because the data is available in the system immediately after confirmation and without additional post-processing,” noted Weiler. Because of this, the entire
data entry process that previously took up to four weeks is now no longer necessary. At the same time, the likelihood of entry-errors has been significantly reduced. “On a sheet of paper, there are simply many more possibilities to provide inaccurate information,”
explained Weiler. Accordingly, often-times details on the paper lists were illegible and had to be clarified afterwards.
With the new method of data acquisition, 99% of the information collected is correct, which Weiler noted is considerable more than before.
Because all of the data entered via the new Windows 8 app is available for analysis in the system during the fair, reporting and information can also be provided to the Board and to members much more quickly. “In the past, you had to wait for post-processing
to be completed, i.e. several weeks,” recalled Weiler. “Now, all relevant information is already available within an hour after the end of the fair.” And last, but not least, a great amount of paper is saved leading to a much more sustainable process.
“The positive response from all parties involved has proved that it is effective to use mobile devices as part of a modern ordering process,” said Weiler.
FÜR SIE plans to continue improving the process using the Windows 8 app. They hope to add new features and functionality to improve user experience, such as a product image zoom. Overall, the app and the new order process with the mobile devise was a complete
success on its first use.
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