Pelican Products, Inc. Improves Sales Order and Invoice Processing with Esker’s SaaS Solutions

Sydney, Australia — March 21, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Pelican Products, Inc., a leader in the design and manufacturing of protective cases, temperature-controlled packaging solutions, portable lighting systems and rugged gear, to automate its order management and accounts payable (AP) processes. 

Pelican chose Esker’s Order Processing and Accounts Payable automation solutions to streamline its processes, fill gaps in productivity, provide higher levels of visibility and allow for scalability within its business. Thanks to SAP-certified integration, orders and invoices are now electronically processed with machine-learning technology and automatically entered into the system.

Optimised order processing

Prior to using Esker, it took Pelican’s Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) up to thirty minutes to enter large, complex sales orders into the company’s SAP® system. Today, Pelican is processing fax, email and electronic data interchange (EDI) orders significantly faster, with order entry cycle times below 5 minutes which is a reduction of more than 80 percent.

“Esker gave us the most bang for the buck,” said Paul Sohn, director of business Applications at Pelican. “It provides a greater level of visibility over both the number of orders in the queue, as well as those entered into SAP. Our goal is same-day order entry, which Esker helps us achieve on a consistent basis.”

EDI order integration

With Esker’s solution, CSRs are now able to process EDI orders in the same workflow as fax and email orders — even those containing exceptions — without needing the IT department to correct issues. Delays due to EDI exceptions previously resulted in financial penalties for late shipments and reduced productivity for IT staff being pulled away to help fix errors. Pelican now benefits from streamlined processing of EDI orders, reducing processing time from what used to be days to just minutes.

Since implementing Esker, Pelican has been able to:

  • Reduce order entry time by more than 80 percent; from 30 minutes for complex orders to about five minutes
  • Maintain headcount; managing growing order volumes without adding staff
  • Accelerate delivery time; getting orders entered up to one day sooner to avoid late delivery fees
  • Improve visibility; custom dashboards and reports allow for 100 percent visibility on every order
  • Streamline order processing; all orders, even EDI, are routed through one shared workflow

Streamlined accounts payable

Like order management, Pelican’s previous AP invoicing process was also hampered by manual touch points. Slow processing times and lack of accountability over authorisations were two of the primary issues the company aimed to resolve. With Esker’s Accounts Payable solution, Pelican now has a more structured and transparent process for the accounting staff and management. This centralisation has allowed Pelican to respond to vendors more quickly and reduce the occurrence of late payments. Instead of searching through email or paper copies for invoices, they are now easily found in Esker’s solution.

“We can accrue invoices entered into Esker and see what’s been approved and what’s still pending,” explained Sohn. “The visibility it has brought to AP has made approvals easier and payments faster. It’s expedited the entire process — a major time-savings tool.”

About Pelican Products, Inc.

Pelican Products, Inc. is the global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance protective cases, temperature controlled packaging solutions, advanced portable lighting systems and rugged gear for professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Its products are used by professionals in the most demanding markets including fire/safety, law enforcement, defense/military, aerospace, entertainment, industrial and consumer. The company operates in 21 countries, with 22 international sales offices and six manufacturing facilities around the globe. In Europe, the company does business under the name Peli Products, S.L.U.

 

Center of Gravity

Recently, I came across an excellent blog from one of our partners, Intelestream. The post was about  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some things to consider when implementing a CRM solution. Something that really jumped out to me was what Intelestream referred to as the “Center of Gravity.” By this, they mean that in every business environment the workflow will revolve around two or three key pieces of software that have a huge impact on the business.

Where this can become a problem for a company is if the software being used is the wrong tool for the job. What can make it worse is that the longer employees have been using any software, the more resistant they are trying something new. This is true even if the new software solution is specifically designed for their business process and has obvious advantages. Changing the Center of Gravity within a department is not easy but it is an important consideration when looking to implement any new software application and ultimately improve how a department does business.

Here is an example. Many companies use Outlook for their email. This is a very effective tool for communicating, however, it is not always the right tool for the job. I have seen a number of companies that use a shared inbox to receive and manage orders that their customers send to them via email. Outlook is great but it was never designed to be a queue for processing incoming orders. There are limitations when you have the wrong tool as your department’s center of gravity. In this example, the critical information is on an attachment. It is not easy to search of a specific attachment or priorities orders. You may see hundreds of emails but how many are orders? How many customers asking for express shipping? Besides the limitations with any tool that is not designed for this specific business process, you also have limitations and the communication with other applications or interoperability. To learn more, check out the blog: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Business Process via Email.

If you are looking to improve operations within your company ask a department what is their Center of Gravity. Then ask yourself is that the right tool for the job? Consider what this department could accomplish if they had the proper tools for the job.

How Technology Plays a Role in Order-to-Cash Success

Whether its customers calling in about late shipments or your warehouse accidentally shipping incorrect items, sales order disputes can impact customer satisfaction. Order disputes can arise as a result of several different situations, such as:

  • Price variations of the goods that appear on the order vs. the invoice
  • Sales tax and shipping costs inaccuracies
  • Keystroke errors from manually entering orders
  • Differences in the terms of sale on the PO and the invoice

As a consequence, payment delays occur because customer service teams have to reprocess the orders and exceptions. Customer service is strapped for time as it is, and it’s challenging to take the time needed to adequately review all customer purchase orders for accuracy before processing.

Unfortunately, inaccurate orders result in inaccurate customer billing. If customer service had the time to manually review orders line by line for accuracy, there would be any number of exceptions found (e.g., PO with the wrong price or unacceptable terms and conditions of sale). No matter the exception so begins the tedious task of rejecting or reprocessing the order. Emails back and forth, requests made for an updated order to be re-sent, inventory put on hold, credits applied, verification for price adjustments … and this can go on and on for weeks.

Getting orders entered right the first time shortens the timeline to billing. By streamlining your entire procedure for customer communication, order processing, invoicing, and collecting payment for an order you’ll speed up cash flow, cut costs and serve your customers better in the long run. So, where is this Utopia found?

In the world of inbound customer sales order automation. From having visibility of all received sales orders into a single queue (by email, EDI, fax orders) to automatically extracting data from the document (e.g., customer name, PO number, ship to address, quantity, etc.) and comparing the data against information stored in your ERP, automation provides customer service a streamlined approach to approve orders or handle exceptions.

Technology like sales order automation has a role to play in implementing best-in-class strategies for order-to-cash (O2C) success. No need to avoid new technology from fear of costs, effort or change — these investments are necessary to remain competitive. Order automation can be implemented at a reasonable cost for companies processing as few as 500 orders a month and scalable to handle over 500,000. Speeding up the overall O2C process means speeding up your cash flow, reducing costs and running your business more efficiently overall.

Efficient O2C processes play a large role in the customer experience and company success —  unfortunately, they can be a challenge to attain when you have different teams working towards different goals. Download your copy of this eBook to start creating a positive customer experience with a proactive solution.

 

How to Start Building a Successful Customer Experience Program

By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and quality as the key brand differentiator. In other words, brands that don’t work on improving their customer experience will be left behind.

Customer experience is more than a trend or buzzword — it will play a pivotal role in the future of marketing and has an insightful ability to predict where a company will be 5-10 years down the line. What should you be doing, if anything to prepare for this change?

First, what is customer experience?

On a basic level, customer experience (CX) refers to how a customer perceives their interactions with your company. How does your customer feel at every touchpoint they have with you, from marketing to sales to support? CX is ultimately defined by the consumer, which means businesses need to actively adapt and set themselves up to exceed expectations.

Should you be investing in this?

Joe Hanousek, Esker’s Customer Experience Manager, believes that every company needs to be tracking their customer touchpoints and working towards continually improving that process. He often says that: “Seventy percent of senior executives in companies believe that CX is important. In my opinion, the other 30 percent shouldn’t be executives.” So much of the B2B focus is on lead generation instead of improving customer experience, although most people are well aware that it is less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. Companies mistakenly start looking into customer experience as a last resort once they’re suffering, but customer experience is best as a proactive approach, taken when business is growing versus lagging behind. The graph below shows just how valuable an investment in improving customer experience could be.

How do you begin?

If you’re just getting ready to work on improving customer experience, aim for C-level sponsorship. It won’t go very far unless there are people at the top behind it, so do the research you need to convince someone to back you up. Most executives are aware of the importance of CX, but still aren’t taking active steps to improve upon it. If you haven’t already started in a few years, it’ll be too late.

Next, be sure you’re ready to invest a significant amount of time and human resources into building a solid customer experience program. At Esker, the process took a full year to go from conception to having a Customer Experience manager and a team in place. It’s a good idea to have at least one person fully devoted to customer experience and multiple people from different departments committed to being a part of the CX improvement process; otherwise, CX can easily become a task that is swept away on an already busy to-do list. This will also depend on executive buy-in, as far as whether the need to have a customer experience manager or team is understood.

Finally, it is important to communicate the goals of the customer experience program throughout the organizationEveryone should be on board and kept up to date. As Joe puts it: “It’s not C-Level people or managers that make customer experience better — it’s the staff working directly with them.” Educate, train and update all those who interact with customers at any level on what needs to be done to improve those important touchpoints.

The beginning stages of our customer experience journey.

Joe’s biggest recommendation for those starting to work in CX? Change your perspective. “It is not an area for problem customers to go to, but rather a way to prevent customers from ever having the problem in the first place,” he explained. As staff focus on offering solutions to immediate problems, the CX team should be looking into why those problems happened in the first place, and if there is anything that could be done to fix that.

Customer experience goes beyond customer satisfaction or happiness. A successful customer experience program will work to prevent problems before they arise, delighting your clients past the point of mere satisfaction. CX has become more of a trend in the past two years, but it is definitely here to stay for the long haul. If you have any questions about the process we went through to build our customer experience program at Esker, or about customer experience in general, leave a comment below and we will respond to you!

eCommerce and the Digital Journey

With spending 15 years of my career in the eCommerce space, I’ve learned a lot along the way. One thing that has stuck with me is no matter how much a company believes the business case that this is going to be the only solution they need, you can’t force it.

You see, there is another entity involved that the company doesn’t control — its customers. For example, one of my chemical industry clients created a whole eCommerce site to sell its low-margin products. If a customer wanted that product they would have to buy through that portal. Other companies create significant campaigns to transition their customers to eCommerce, highlighting the benefits to the customer and offering discounts if they buy from their site. All of these are legitimate strategies, because, in today’s world, an eCommerce channel is a must.

The problem is an eCommerce channel is not going to work for all customers. Some of them are large, drive a majority of revenue, and want to buy through EDI so that the systems can talk to each other with no human intervention. Other customers have ERP systems that are spitting out their POs and they don’t want to re-key orders, or upload a spreadsheet to a website. Some industries have customers that don’t have the capabilities, nor do they want to deviate from what’s been working during the course of their relationship with you: sending their orders via email or fax (yes, there is still a lot of faxing going on).

Digital transformation usually begins with EDI and eCommerce sites, but it doesn’t end there. If neither of those channels work, email and fax orders can be placed into your ERP after validation checks for accuracy — all without manual intervention. This gives companies cross-departmental visibility to everything in the order pipeline, the ability to easily measure KPIs, and the actionable intelligence necessary to address priorities or concerns in real-time before they become big issues.

In today’s world, the customer experience is king. Figuring out how to efficiently cater to them is every companies’ challenge. Sometimes the easiest paths are overlooked for those more glamorous. It reminds me of a song I learned in Girl Scouts that says “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Every channel is important in its own way and can co-exist to provide a truly exceptional approach to business.

Promega France Enters the E-Commerce Era with Esker’s Accounts Receivable Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 27, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Promega France, a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry, to automate its accounts receivable (AR) process in anticipation for the e-invoicing to public administration requirements scheduled to take affect in 2019. Thanks to Esker’s cloud-based Accounts Receivable solution, Promega France has been able to modernize its invoice processing process and improve customer service efficiency.

“By automating our AR process, we have taken an essential step into the era of e-commerce,” said Annick Dahlem, customer service manager at Promega France. “Esker has not only enabled us to improve and simplify our accounting process, but has also allowed us to prepare for upcoming changes. We particularly appreciate the collaboration with Esker France which facilitates our relationship with the support team.”

Benefits of AR automation

The solution was implemented in just six weeks and has enabled Promega France to send customer invoices as soon as they are prepared by email (in PDF format) or postal mail from Esker’s production facility. Fully integrated with Promega France’s SAP® ERP system, Esker’s solution also facilitates invoice tracking and archiving via an intuitive web interface available to all company stakeholders.

Since implementing Esker’s solution, Promega France has achieved numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved customer service representative (CSR) performance, freeing them up to spend more time on higher-value tasks
  • Increased efficiency when searching for invoices thanks to electronic archiving
  • Better information sharing — everyone involved in the process can collaborate on the same invoice
  • Improved activity tracking through customizable dashboards
  • Implemented sustainable development in the invoice routing process

“Over a quarter of our private sector customers now receive their invoices in PDF format, a welcomed approach that will most certainly continue to increase,” said Dahlem. “Esker’s customizable dashboards have helped in my day-to-day work, giving me access to indicators that greatly facilitate my daily monitoring.”

Thanks to Esker’s solution interoperability with Chorus Pro, the French public administration platform, Promega France can confidently anticipate mandatory e-invoicing to public administrations in January 2019. The public sector represents close to 70 percent of Promega France’s order volume.

About Promega

Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. The company’s 3,500 products enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics, proteomics, cellular analysis, drug discovery and human identification. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA, with branches in 16 countries and over 50 global distributors. Promega France has been present in the Lyon region since 1992 with 45 employees, and many distributors in overseas France, Maghreb, Egypt, Greece and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

IPC Global Solutions Processes Orders Faster and More Accurately with Esker’s Cloud-Based Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 20, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced that IPC Global Solutions, a manufacturer and distributor of automotive aftermarket filters and wiper blades, has automated its order management functions using Esker’s Order Processing solution. Implemented in the cloud, the solution is integrated with the company’s SYSPRO ERP system. 

Receiving more than 350 monthly orders in a variety of formats (e.g., EDI, fax, email, etc.), IPC’s process of entering orders by hand was costly and inefficient — particularly the duplicate data entry it took to create an internal purchase order for the company’s own manufacturing and distribution sites overseas. Some orders were up to 300 lines and took over 30 minutes to process, placing a burden on the company’s Customer Support Representatives (CSRs).

To help IPC handle the significant increase in business it was experiencing, it sought a solution that would accelerate order processing, reduce administrative spend and scale with the company. Esker’s solution met IPC’s needs and more, offering a superior easy-to-use interface, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and a broad range of functionality at a better price than the competition.

Benefits from automated order management

Since implementing Esker’s Order Processing solution, IPC has achieved substantial benefits, such as:

  • Faster order processing: what previously took five to 30 minutes now takes two minutes or fewer.
  • Increased accuracy: OCR, combined with machine learning technology, has boosted order entry accuracy.
  • Improved customer relationships: orders are now being received more quickly and accurately.
  • Centralized workflow: all orders are accessible on a single platform and no longer tied to a single person, allowing others to step in when an employee is out of the office.
  • Expedited shipping: faster processing means orders are now shipped almost a day earlier.
  • Freed-up staff time: employees are able to focus on higher-value tasks, like a future Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system update.

“We had a staff member who was hesitant to make the transition to Esker’s solution,” said Darlene Mancuso, customer support manager at IPC Global Solutions. “Now that we’ve implemented it, she tells us she doesn’t know how she ever did her work without Esker. Our employees enjoy using the solution.”

About IPC Global Solutions

IPC Global Solutions, headquartered in Taunton, MA, is a leader in the private label filter and wiper blade business. With a 35-year heritage of supporting the very best names in the automotive aftermarket, IPC has built its success on delivering quality products and service to customers around the world. IPC is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company with manufacturing and distribution facilities in the United States and China.