If selling software to individual companies is like fishing for trout, then selling to a third-party logistics provider would be like hooking a whale.
That's how Renaissance Software Inc. must have felt when it secured Air Express International (AEI) as the first 3PL user of its warehousing software package on behalf of multiple customers. Renaissance quickly found out how demanding its newest client would be.
First rule of third-party logistics: Don't say no. So when AEI announced that the entire system had to be up and running within six weeks, Renaissance scrambled to comply. It was merely responding to the same kind of service expectations imposed on AEI by its own customer base.
Renaissance, based in Lake Success, N.Y., signed a contract with AEI, headquartered in Darien, Conn., in October of 1997. The package in question was Renaissance's International Warehouse Management System (IWMS). While AEI licensed a variety of supply-chain applications from Renaissance, its primary interest at the outset was in installing warehouse software that could be applied to any customer.
The buyer's decision was by no means automatic. Steve Schwark, AEI's vice president of worldwide logistics, hired an outside consultant to validate his choice of Renaissance. In the end, the consultant agreed that the vendor was best for AEI, both in software functionality and sales support by management. As for Schwark, he was lured by the system's AS/400 platform, conforming to AEI's own, along with its ability to handle multiple customers and shipments moving under humidity and temperature controls.
What put Renaissance over the top, said Schwark, was its willingness to meet AEI's specific requirements, including the need to respond quickly to the underlying account base. "As much as you try to convince new customers not to add unique requirements to your plate, they always seem to want to do that," he said.
|"They took the time to understand that we were going to be different. There was a lot of exchange of information and business plans." - Steve Schwark of AEI|
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