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Handhelds can offer compelling returns


									Handhelds can offer compelling returns                                                                              Ontario. The wireless device ena-        number is fed live into the manufac-
When every sales call to every legitimate prospect results in a sale, you've either got                             bles them to keep track of store         turer's information system.
dangerous powers of persuasion or an excellent business case. Rick Kingston,                                        inventory for each individual prod-          Beyond ensuring the accura-
                                                                                                                    uct. Via their wireless device, sales    cy and completion of logging part
president of MDKS Solutions Group Inc. in Waterloo, Ont., claims he has such a track                                reps key in critical data and mon-       numbers, the handheld can be used
record for handheld solutions. He credits the business case.                                                        itor items such as the quantity of       to ensure compliance with quality
                                                                                                                    product available in each store.         control procedures, prompting
BY SUSAN MACLEAN                                                                                                        The CyberCat application also        tasks to be completed and record-
                                                                                                                   provides a three-month history            ing who did what and when.
When used for remote sales                                                                                         of product inventory on the Palm              "They are updating the status
force        orders      processing,                                                                               Tungsten W screen so sales reps          of the spa as it is being manu-
handhelds offer an attractive                                                                                      can see the history of the product       factured." Kingston says. "With-
ROI. Biscuits Leclerc Ltd., a                                                                                      flow charts from any store loca-         out anyone doing any work other
Quebec-based cookie and other                                                                                      tion to check, for example, inven-       than just scanning and checking
snack foods manufacturer, is a                                                                                     tory status and which product sells      the boxes for what they've done.
case in point. The four-generation,                                                                                the fastest. Users can track where       they've updated the status of the
family-owned company that began                                                                                    an order was sent and when its           order throughout the system."
baking and selling cookies in the                                                                                  receipt was acknowledged. Items              Sunrise also uses the Sym-
family kitchen in Quebec City in                                                                                   such as store manager birth-             bol scanner for picking and pack-
1905 today operates five                                                                                           days, delivery limes for individual      ing in the warehouse which helps
production facilities in Quebec,                                                                                   stores, to-do lists that used to be      ensure the right items are packed
Ontario and the U.S. It employs                                                                                    written on Post-It notes are now         and keeps the order status current
more than 450 people and sells                                                                                     stored on the wireless device.           and accurate.
worldwide through stores some                                                                                           Biscuits Leclerc claims its or-         Kingston speculates that the
30 to 50 different Biscuits                                                                                        der processing has been optimized        initial cost of purchasing wire-
Leclerc products ranging from                                                                                      with turnaround time from order          less access points and hardware
granola bars and cookies to                                                                                        status to delivery now less than         is only part of what stops more
cereals and crackers.                                                                                              24 hours — a 25 per cent improve-        people from using wireless tech-
    Initially, sales representatives                                                                               ment — and order processing              nology. It can be a hefty hit to get
were assigned to a number of                                                                                       errors reduced by an estimated           the software for wireless ware-
stores to check on inventory and        Food manufacturer Biscuits Leclerc's sales force uses wireless devices     80 per cent.                             house picking and packing appli-
process orders when product was         to ensure adequate store inventory for each individual product.                MDKS Solutions Group presi-          cations, for example. Plus, that
running low. ensuring that grocery                                                                                 dent Rick Kingston also finds that       software may not integrate with a
store shelves were always stocked                                                                                  customers using Palm Pilot for re-       firm's existing accounting system,
with Biscuits Leclerc products. As     consuming and frequently inaccu-      engine for data sharing between       mote sales forces enjoy an excel-        he suggests. MDKS supplies Infini-
the company grew, it became            rate. Biscuits Leclerc searched for   a Web server and a multitude of       lent ROI. "They spend $7.000 to          ty software that includes the wire-
more difficult to keep track of or-    an affordable solution that would     Palm PDAs. After a one-month tri-     $10,000 and eliminate at least one       less warehouse module and costs
ders and deliver product in a timely   allow orders to be transmitted        al, Biscuits Leclerc ordered a unit   full-time order entry person — on        about $50,000.
manner. Until recently, sales reps     reliably, quickly and accurately.     each for its 30 sales representa-     day one," he says.                       And then there’s security. "The
used an outdated method for or-        After testing different mobile de-    tives servicing hundreds of stores        MDKS mobile customers range          demand for greater levels of
der processing that entailed hours     vices, they chose to work with Cy-    across Quebec and eastern On-         from flower wholesalers wielding         mobile security will only
writing orders on paper with the       berCat. an application developer      tario. These reps now remotely        Palm Pilots to manufacturers track-      increase as enterprises come to
grocery manager, keying in data,       in Quebec City, to develop a wire-    access the company's data and         ing component serial numbers with        better understand the utility of
and then relaying the information      less solution.                        place orders instantly to Biscuits    Symbol Technologies' handheld de-        mobile handheld devices and the
by phone to the warehouse.                  CyberCat developed an appli-     Leclerc's systems for quick and ac-   vices. Among the latter is Sunrise       returns that come from putting
    Francois Levac. vice-president     cation on the Palm Tungsten W. a      curate order processing.              Whirlpool Spas in Grimsby. Ont..         the freshest data into the hands
of information technology, recalls     wireless device with GPRS connec-         According to Levac, on any        where assemblers use Symbol              of those in the field who can do
that data had to be manually en-       tivity, supported by Rogers AT&T      given week, more than 25.000          Technologies' PPT2846 colour             the most with it," notes Kevin
tered twice, which was very time       Wireless networks. Cybercat's Giz-    cases of products need to be de-      handheld devices to scan the seri-       Burden, IDG research manager,
                                       moLink provides a synchronization     livered across Quebec and eastern     al number of every part. That part       Mobile Devices.

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