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When was the last time you had to wait for a delivery? What time window were you given?
If you're in a company making deliveries, that's not the way you want your customers to spend their days. But without tight controls on delivery, and visibility into driver status, it's difficult to make the windows small. That's where mobile systems come into play, and that's how Arhaus Furniture, a high-end regional furniture retailer in the Midwest, was able to get to a two-hour service window.
Arhaus, Cleveland, services 11 states from one DC there. It routes 45 drivers from that DC and 10 hubs in its area of coverage to handle 4,000 to 5,000 deliveries per month, both to stores and consumer homes.
The deliveries, once requested, were routed and scheduled for a four-hour window by dispatch staff members calling 50 to 60 people per day to get deliveries scheduled. Once scheduled, drivers were given paper manifests. They were then required to call into the dispatch center at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. to update their status. If they weren't within two stops of their last call by 3 p.m., they then had to call in every hour. Meanwhile, customers were calling in, asking about the status of their deliveries. Once the deliveries were done, the drivers would forward the paper manifests back to headquarters for processing. "This system was fraught with inefficiencies," says John Roddy, vice president of logistics.
Arhaus found a solution which includes field service and appointment management tools in a Web-based application. Using Web 2.0 software-as-a-service (SaaS), the solution enables companies and customers alike to access live data via the Web. Arhaus deployed the solution to its drivers on smartphones, deploying it in 30 days. "Because the solution is SaaS, it was a very small investment of IT resources, and we were able to deploy it very quickly," says Roddy. "Also, the drivers already had cell phones, so it was important to us to find something that could operate on them."Customer calls requests are put into the system, and 48 hours prior to the requested delivery date, receives an automated call or text message to schedule the delivery. The customer accepts or reschedules and is told of a specific time window, what products will be delivered, and if any are on back order. Once the delivery is scheduled, a file is created in Arhaus' logistics software, and the delivery stop information is sent to a driver via the mobile phone. Throughout the day, the driver updates his progress along his route by indicating when a delivery is complete, when a customer isn't home, etc. As he does this, the system calculates his progress toward the ensuing stops and updates customers automatically if it seems like their stops will be delayed. The customer can access all of his or her order data via the Web, and even track delivery progress.
Source: Integrated Solutions, http://integratedsolutionsmag.com
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