An online book retailer in Barrie, Ont., has deployed a warehouse management application designed to enhance on-demand delivery capabilities and Web-based customer service tools.

Canadian Book Depot, a three-person firm that

opened shop in June 2004, had realized that it was unable to store at its warehouse its entire inventory at any one time. So the retailer and distributor of books to clients within Canadian retail, supply chain and public sectors chose to deploy Radio Beacon Warehouse Management System at its Mississauga, Ont., warehouse.

According to Frank Nelson, vice-president of Canadian Book Depot, Radio Beacon WMS’s real-time order and inventory tracking functions, combined with his company’s financial systems, allow the organization to operate with an on-demand inventory model. The solution also integrates with most financial systems and accounting software so that small e-businesses can better meet the needs of their large clients.

“Radio Beacon WMS is embedded into SAP Business One, which is great for us,” said Nelson. “We don’t have to worry about moving numbers around or interfacing with other applications. It’s all one seamless solution.”

The application is up and running, he confirmed, noting that because his company was a start-up at the time of last year’s deployment, it had less to worry about on the risk side of the equation. The most difficult part of the six-week rollout phase, admitted Nelson, was setting up accounts and getting a better understanding of how Business One works.

“It started with the long-term relationship we’ve had with Radio Beacon,” said Nelson, explaining one of the rationales behind selecting the vendor that it did. “So there’s that rapport there. The number two issue is it’s a low-cost solution. Our company is a very small company. We only have three employees. It allowed us at a low cost to enter into that marketplace.”

Radio Beacon WMS is all about providing small businesses with the technology they need to trim down operating costs and to provide better customer service, said Tom Berend, director of technical services at Toronto-based Radio Beacon.

“The value proposition is doing it right the first time. The key thing people want when they install any kind of a logistics chain is accuracy,” he said. “Every process that we deliver is targeted around how we can improve accuracy…You want to save 20 per cent across the board on your total corporate labour costs…And that 20 per cent is how much time we spend redoing, reworking, apologizing for doing it wrong.”

Brian Sharwood, an analyst with the SeaBoard Group in Toronto, said that before such tools came along, most small companies simply had to make do with what they had.

“If you are a small company, you were sort of winging it before,” said Sharwood. “Radio Beacon allows companies to go from winging it to being effective…The need is very high to have effective logistics.”

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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