MacFarlane to deliver mobile order ERP link

Delivery drivers for MacFarlane Packaging will soon be able to use handheld devices to check customers' inventory and place orders directly into the firm's ERP system, as part of a pilot project.

Delivery drivers for MacFarlane Packaging will soon be able to use handheld devices to check customers' inventory and place orders directly into the firm's ERP system, as part of a pilot project.

The pilot follows the launch by MacFarlane of customer and supplier portals and a consumer e-commerce venture.

MacFarlane, which has about 17,000 UK customers, uses IBS Integrator to allow its portals and consumer e-commerce ventures to link into its back office IBS Enterprise ERP system using XML. Mark Selby, IT director at MacFarlane, said the firm was looking to build on this functionality.

The proposed pilot would allow drivers to count stock on behalf of customers using handheld devices and load the data onto the ERP system via a GPRS link. The ERP system would then generate an order for the next delivery, he said.

The firm's portals have reduced administration costs and helped the firm win new customers since they were launched last year, Selby said.

"We felt that since we had made quite an investment in our IT infrastructure, we wanted to maximise that investment," he said. "Customers can place an order online within three clicks, which is faster than picking up the phone. And suppliers have full visibility of their purchase orders.

"Although it is not the only point customers look for, feedback shows that the system has contributed to securing new business."

The firm has also built its own consumer and small business website for people moving house, small retailers or eBay traders. Like the portals, it uses IBS Integrator to link to the ERP systems.

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