SVS Veterinary Supplies conducted a customer survey in 2004 to find ways to improve customer service. The survey found the veterinary-goods supply chain was not up to date with the latest information and communication technology. Typically, vets would either phone or fax through orders — a system that is both time-consuming and prone to human error.
The solution SVS came up with, called Vetchannel, is built around a high-availability message processing hub that provides real-time connectivity between the vet’s practice management software application (PMA) and SVS’s ERP system — around the clock and every day.
Vetchannel allows vets to check stock availability and pricing, to see product information and current promotions, and to place any orders instantly, all in real time. To order products, vets fill out an electronic purchase order and click on a “check” button, which sends a query to the Vetchannel hub. In turn, Vetchannel returns information on stock availability, prices and sizes, as well as a web link that accesses product photos and promotional material. Orders can also be left open and changed, and will not be sent to the SVS warehouse until a “submit” button is clicked. The order is then recorded in SVS’s ERP system and instantly printed out at the warehouse, where the goods are packed and sent to the vet, with an invoice.
The system was designed and developed by IT services company Certus Solutions, which also hosts the service.
The main benefits of the automated supply chain include time efficiency, both for vets and SVS staff, and reduction in human error.
The three dominating PMAs in New Zealand are Vetlink, RxWorks and Vet Manager. Vetlink was chosen for the initial project because it integrated well with the Vetchannel hub. The timing, from Vetlink’s point of view, was also good. Certus built the system so that it would be a simple process to integrate Vetchannel with RxWorks and Vet Manager in the future.
SVS is also investigating the option of adding wireless ordering capability to Vetchannel, providing PDAs with scanners to vet practices.