NZ Retail Magazine published a case study on the work Flow Software has done with Lewis Road Creamery allowing them to support massive growth by implementing EDI with their customers as well as integrating their own internal systems.
We are all familiar with the Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk explosion of 2014. But what you may not realise is that, when they said they could never have predicted its popularity, they really meant it.
“When we launched the product in September 2014, we suddenly had double the invoices,” says Michelle Preston, general manager of Lewis Road Creamery. In fact, at its height, Lewis Road saw a 1000 percent increase in volume.
“At the time we were manually processing invoices, and it caused us a lot of problems. There were stock challenges as well – demand was greater than supply,” says Preston. This meant Lewis Road’s staff, as well as having to deal with hundreds of invoices a day, were also manually inputting re-orders when stock was unavailable.
“Whenever there is manual data entry, there are always mistakes,” says Preston. “And when you have a perishable product like milk, that can be very costly.”
Flow advised Lewis Road on a change of accountancy software, to help deal with all the new traffic, and then began to implement EDI between them and the businesses they supplied.
“We did it bite sized, starting with Progressive, then Foodstuffs Auckland and on from there,” says Preston. “But we began to see efficiencies and cost savings immediately.”
One obvious, instant cost saving was the reduction in staff salaries as they no longer needed so many people to input data. The automated system also resulted in fewer mistakes, meaning fewer stock losses.
“We new have zero mistakes at our end, and we are working with the stores we supply to help them reduce mis-ordering mistakes at their end,” says Preston. “We can also respond to orders more quickly. If you place an order by 8am, it is automatically sent to our production facility who prepare it for delivery the next day – instead of a two or three day lead time.”
Regular reports ensure that orders are fulfilled correctly and in a timely manner, and orders placed after the cut off automatically get bumped to the next available picking date to make sure the product is fresh as well as on time. Orders no longer have to be returned for re-processing. Lewis Road’s systems merge seamlessly with their 3PL provider, Big Chill.
“Flow offers a very bespoke service, mapping solutions to individual clients needs,” says Preston. “Every time we’ve launched a new product we’ve seen unprecidented business growth, and Flow have been invaluable helping us to manage that.”