In the van: Sulco’s mobile sales solution

Sulco is a CWEA finalist in the category Molbile and Wireless Solutions

Tool and equipment vendor Sulco operates 25 vans selling and delivering products to workshops around New Zealand. The company has implemented a mobile sales solution aimed at increasing efficiency of the sales order process, eliminating delays and double handling of data, reducing errors and also increasing available sales time for van operators. The mobile system also includes a database of product and customer information.

Previously, van personnel recorded sales transactions manually, on paper. All customer and product information was available only on paper, and information had to be couriered between the vans and head office.

Now every van has a flat-screen computer with a barcode scanner, printer and external CDMA modem. This enables van operators to record sales and stock transactions, and to more easily communicate with head office. When sales details are completed, an invoice is printed in the van and, at the same time saved, as an XML file on the computer.

The file is simultaneously transferred to head office using Telecom’s secure Private Office network connection. The invoice is then automatically transferred to the accounting database. If the van is out of the coverage area of Telecom’s 027 network the application will store transaction information offline and transfer the information when the van is within coverage.

Through a browser, Sulco staff has local and remote access to the server containing transaction information and sales history.

All software components of the project are open source, which allows Sulco to customise any part of the software and so keep costs down. The solution was developed by Asterisk.

Sulco has seen an increase in sales revenue after implementing the mobile system, and feedback from van sales staff has been generally positive. Another benefit to Sulco is the scalability of the solution — more vans can be added to the system at minimal cost from an IT perspective.

Sulco plans to update the system by integrating an IP-based EFTPOS system. Payments are currently only recorded with the software. Also, stock information will be made available to the van operators in the future, and messaging functionality is to be extended, enabling vans to communicate with each other, as well as allowing the head office to communicate with customers.

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