New OS Helps Accelerate Order Processing and Customer Support: essentialapparel.com

“eMazzanti created a custom gadget—Essential Gadget— that enables us to monitor pick, pack and ship status. It’s probably responsible for a 15 percent boost in productivity all by itself.”

-Kim Hubelbank, Director of Systems, EssentialApparel.com

Situation

Essential Apparel is a leading online retailer of brand-name sports, lingerie and outerwear. The eight year old web firm grew as an extension of its brick and mortar stores, fundamentally doubling it size in a high competitive, price sensitive industry. Essential Apparel’s appeal is to a customer’s cultural pragmatism: great brands, great prices without wasting time and money. “We sell staples with a high percentage of repeat customers so efficient handling of customer orders means everything,” noted Kim Hubelbank, Director of Systems, EssentialApparel.com

The point of business where Essential Apparel is looking to gain efficiencies is order processing…how orders are picked, packed and shipped. In the past it employees ran around the warehouse to physically check the inventory on ordered items. It’s not hard to imagine the wasted time. “This is a narrow margin business and taking an extra 15-30 minutes to chase down an order can evaporate any profit,” said Hubelbank.

“Speed of business and managing costs are our two evergreen challenges,” commented Hubelbank. “We’re constantly looking for operational efficiencies.”

Solution

The level of technology DPK and eMazzanti Technologies have deployed over the last two years rivals law firms many times its size. In addition, DPK is now test-driving Windows 7 beta and is uncovering a number of features that are helping on a business and personal level.

Ready Boost

USB flash drives can now be used to boost temporary RAM to accelerate manipulation of graphics or photos or, in the case of Essential Apparel, breathe new life into old computers.

Gadgets

Gadgets are mini applications with a variety of possible uses from delivering weather and news to customized business data. Essential Apparel uses a custom developed order processing gadget.

Windows Touch

Windows 7 supports touch screen monitor drivers in Essential Apparel’s warehouse eliminating the need for a mouse that can cause order errors for those individuals with dexterity challenges.

Federated Search

This functionality enables Essential Apparel customer service representatives to find virtually any type of file anywhere on local drives, network and Internet. Searches are deeper and more comprehensive.

Problem Steps Recorder

Problem Step Recorder allows Essential Apparel employees to precisely capture and communicate a computer problem. It also enables staff to document fixes, create tutorials or knowledge-based reference materials for customers.

Web Slices

Web slices effortlessly keeps Essential Apparel up to date on competitor websites by identifying and displaying the changes automatically.

Benefits

Custom Order Gadget Boost Productivity by 15 Percent

Essential Apparel took advantage of the custom gadget capability in Windows 7 and improved productivity. “eMazzanti created a custom gadget—Essential Gadget— that enables us to monitor pick, pack and ship status. It’s probably responsible for a 15 percent boost in productivity all by itself,” said Hubelbank.

ReadyBoost Betters Bottom Line by $15,000

Essential Apparel has discovered another area of savings attributable to features in Windows 7 such as ReadyBoost. The company has a number of legacy machines that were not powerful enough to run previous operating systems but now can be “supped-up” with USB sticks providing temporary RAM. Said Hubelbank, “Approximately a third of our machines can be re-purposed saving us an estimated $15,000.”

New Employee Training Made Easier

According to Hubelbank, there is increased growth in customer service representative personnel. Historically training has been handled by teaming them up with veteran employees. However, this approach affects the productivity of the experienced staff member. Problem Step Recorder comes to the rescue. “Problem Step Recorder now makes it easy to create simple how-to demos about how to work with the order processing system. Training is accelerated and productivity is maximized for both the new and veteran employee.”

Better Search Supports Faster Customer Service

Long phone calls with customers kill profitability. Essential Apparel loves its customers but it must help them quickly and professionally is order to stay profitable and competitive. However, it must adequately answer questions on size, color, availability, ship time, to satisfy customer needs. “Federated Search is immediately benefiting our call center customer service reps. They can rapidly search and find detailed information on products that may have taken 30 minutes or more to discover and a second phone call to resolve,” commented Hubelbank.

Web Slices Improve Competitiveness

Essential Apparel management is constantly monitoring the competition’s websites for market intelligence. Price changes on products and offering free shipping can tip the scale in staying competitive and closing the sale. IE8 Web Slices are making a difference. “Free shipping can make or break margins,” said Hubelbank. ”Web Slices allow us to monitor competitors, especially critical around holidays and special events. It literally helps keep us competitive.”

High Touch, Lower Errors

Essential Apparel warehouse staff manages the pick, pack and ship needs using a scanner and mouse. However, worker dexterity varies and using a mouse can lead to mishandled orders. eMazzanti Technologies tapped a powerful feature in Windows 7 that is helping to eliminate manual errors. “Windows 7 Touch Screen capabilities have replaced the mouse in the warehouse,” noted Hubelbank. “In addition, retail staff is used to touch screen technology making both the warehouse and retail store staff quickly adaptable to filling personnel gaps in either area.”

Alert Consolidation Solves Problems Faster, Cheaper

“Action Center gives us the ability to aggregate all security and maintenance alerts across the network with custom driver scripts,” said Carl Mazzanti, chief executive officer, eMazzanti Technologies. “We can more easily see what’s going, solve the problems quicker and reduce operational costs.”

Windows 7

Faster and more reliable: Windows 7 will help your organization use information technology to gain a competitive advantage in today’s new world of work. Your people will be able to be more productive. You will be able to support your mobile work force with better access to shared data and collaboration tools. And your IT staff will have better tools and technologies to enhance corporate IT security, data protection, and more efficient deployment and management. For more information about Windows 7, go to: www.microsoft.com/windows/business

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