Company: Transoft Ltd
Customer: DBC Foodservice
Submitted by: Transoft Ltd
Date: Spring 2002
As a national company that prides itself on providing unrivalled levels of service, DBC Foodservice (including the household brand -Danish Bacon) aims to ensure its 6,000 product lines are efficiently delivered to all of its 20,000 customers. As part of this commitment, DBC continually reviews ways to make it easier and more convenient for its customers to do business with them. DBC realised that from simply a communication channel, the Web could easily develop into a primary means of enhancing customer service. However, a Web front-end is only a part of the story of successful e-commerce. Without real-time connectivity to core business systems you simply have a Website, not a truly efficient e-commerce solution.
Through a long-standing relationship with their IT partner Computer Systems for Distribution (CSD) – a leading software house providing fully integrated business process solutions to the distribution and logistics sector – DBC developed a strategy to provide online product ordering and tracking for their customers through its Website. DBC customers range in size from single restaurants to local authorities and many of their users are non-technical people i.e. head cooks, chefs etc. This was one of the driving factors behind the need to develop a site that was as easy-to-use as ‘picking up the phone’.
Following a review of other e-commerce sites, DBC were successfully able to avoid many of the common pitfalls early on. When they created a wish-list for their own system, it certainly had to include straight-through order processing into their core business systems. “It would have been pointless to attempt a half-way house”, commented Alistair Allan, IT Manager at DBC. “We have seen so many sites where orders were simply emails in disguise, requiring manual intervention to become product requests; leaving customers uncertain as to whether an item was in stock, or even available. We wanted a system which would advise a customer in real-time if an item is not available and, if not, be able to suggest alternative products or sizes whilst they were still online completing their order” added Allan.
CSD were asked to provide consultancy services and to review a broad range of issues from hosting to server platforms, as well as supplying a comprehensive Web-based self-service wholesale distribution system. By providing this solution to its customers, DBC would be able to offer true 24/7 customer service, through an easy-to-use Web interface providing the flexibility of ordering at times to suit their customers, rather than when the phones lines were open. Apart from the potential to reduce its customer servicing costs, DBC wanted a system that would also enable its customers to select products, place and track orders – all in real time.
As with any discerning client, the project was given a tight timetable and an even tighter budget. With this in mind, CSD provided a m o d u l a r-based solution. Based upon 22 core e-business component services such as order tracking, product search, shopping basket check-out etc. it’s a highly configurable solution capable of meeting each client’s individual requirements. Transoft’s proven Intelligent Adapter connectivity tools were an essential element of the CSD solution. By employing this technology, CSD were able to deliver straight-through online processing with reliable, scalable connectivity to DBC’s core business systems and achieve high traffic tolerance.
By delivering legacy business logic and data as HTML via component-based XML services, the Transoft Adapters enable rapid development of solutions, which integrate Web front-ends with core business l e g a c y (COBOL, RPG, C, Basic etc.) applications. Because it’s written in Java and deployed as a Java Servlet, applications developed using the Transoft XML Transformation Adapter provide excellent performance and scalability, without any modifications, on a wide range of Web servers and platforms. These range from Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) on Windows NT/2000 to APACHE on UNIX. Connections to the Transoft Language and Data Adapters together provide an efficient, seamless and speedy integration from the front to the back-end to deliver real-time straight-through processing.
The original pilot scheme went live in March 2001 with a small group of customers, to confirm the system met its objectives in terms of ease-of-use, efficiency etc. Unequivocally, the trial proved highly successful and suggested some additional enhancements, which were included in the launch phase of the project. These enhancements included an historic and repeat order system as well as early notification of incomplete lines, further shortening the time needed for a customer to place an order.
Following the launch in October 2001, DBC were exceedingly pleased with the take-up of customers registering and using its e-commerce site. The feedback from many of the early adopters showed that DBC had hit the mark in terms of providing its customers with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface for ordering its products.
The site will continue to receive enhancements and additional features with each new phase of CSD’s development. The third phase, which is being implemented in the first half of 2002, will enable customers to carry out template ordering using a modifiable saved shopping list, thereby saving time and effort on items that are ordered regularly. As Allan points out, “DBC’s main aim is to provide added value to its customers and to ensure it delivers a higher service satisfaction level”. DBC also plan to add a number of other features to the system, enhancing the customer service experience still further. One of these will allow customers to obtain copy invoices, thereby saving valuable time for both DBC and its customers.
The advantages of connecting the Web front-end to the core business systems using Transoft’s Intelligent Adapters are clear, as Alistair Allan comments, “A customer places an order on our Web site and a minute later it becomes a pick note in our warehouse”. He also added “We’ve been extremely demanding with CSD from the outset of our e-commerce project and with the inclusion of Transoft’s products into the solution, they have been able to deliver everything we have asked”.