Case study - Inventory management
As soon as Blue Star entered a crowded marketplace intense competition required a new strategy to drive growth. So how did the company manage to not only survive but flourish in the tough world of print management.
Blue Star is a communictions group that provides market-leading solutions across sheet-fed, digital and web printing, print management, direct mail and national logistics operations. With major operations throughout Australiasia, it provides a range of innovative solutions to the region's leading organisations - from financial services to telecommunications, the retail sector and government departments.
In today's environment, quality is a minimum requirement of entry for Australian and New Zealand printers forced to compete against the rock bottom prices of printers in Asia. The real opportunity for differentiation lies in service. In a flooded market, Blue Star needed to make it easy for corporates to do business with them. That meant finding an e-commerce partner with software tools that would enable clients to order and manage their printed products online. Any such solution also needed to feature flexible and open architecture to ensure it could meet the future needs of both Blue Star and its clients.
JAVLN™ allowed the print group to streamline its processes and supply chain across its many business units. A key aim of the project was to improve customer satisfaction by delivering efficient and timely processing and delivery. That's no easy task given the multiple vendors, customers and business units distributed throughout New Zealand and Australia, which is why Blue Star needed a specialist supplier.
"It started out as a tool to provide clients with online cataloguing, ordering and inventory management," says Stephen Herkt, Blue Star's Manager or Client Information Systems, who adds that the software originally transformed client-specific data from Blue Star's internal ERP systems into information that was then presented back to clients in the form of personalised online catalogues and ordering.
Since then, however, Blue Star has evolved the use of their solution. "We're now using JAVLN technology for supplier management, direct system integration, data transformation, file transfer and process streamlining for our clients," Herkt says.
"We've also used this tool in response to client tenders," says Herkt. "it's been very important in winning new business."
Blue Star primarily uses JAVLN solutions to support their storage, logistics and distribution processes on behalf of many leading New Zealand corporates.
Herkt explains the cost savings and efficiency gains afforded for one client to demonstrate:
"Our system allows a client to set up different permissions for different levels of users. We receive orders from all their users. Those orders are either automatically processed - if they meet normal ordering guidelines - or passed to more senior people for approval."
The system then automatically generates an email to the manager to approve the print order. Approval is web-based, so no desktop software is needed. Managers can edit orders, remove or add items. Once approved, the original staff member who placed the order is also automatically emailed and informed of any changes.
The order is then sent through to a 'pick list' in Blue Star's logistics operation and as the order processes through to completion the system is updated. At the end of an order a user can look at the lifecycle of the complete job. They can also view their order history plus reports of which users have purcahsed how much print product - both essential business planning tools.
The software also integrates with Crystal for financial reporting of key performance indicators; and with Blue Star's digital asset management system - an online repository for a company's imagery used in advertisements and collateral. When an image or asset is updated in the digital asset management system, that asset is instantly updated through to OrderWare and in turn updated on the client's website.
In this way JAVLN allows Blue Star to provide high levels of customer service to clients, as well and providing timely, accurate information to suppliers. Best of all, the entire process is auditable.