Cloud-based ERP for independent office products dealers

Success Story:
Zemlick.com

DDMSPLUS Drives Efficiency, Productivity, and Online Sales

Zemlick.com in Kalamazoo, Michigan covers all Southwest Michigan and ventures into Northern Indiana as well with its outside sales team. Ten salespeople cover the area and sell a broad product offering. In addition to office supplies and furniture, Zemlick.com also sells break room and industrial products, as well as janitorial and cleaning supplies.

 “Sales of office supplies have stayed steady but as more offices go green, customers are using less paper,” says Monica Miller, marketing manager and sales representative. At the same time, the dealership has increased sales of paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, and breakroom supplies, so they’ve seen growth in other categories.

Sales increases are always important, but establishing strong relations with customers is equally important. The goal is to have customers who return regularly to make purchases. “We really drive home that we offer more than the big box stores in terms of personal relationships,” says Miller. “A lot of people want to deal with more family-owned local businesses because of the personal touch.”

The future of this family-owned business is in the cloud

Technology plays an important role when it comes to maintaining the dealership’s identity. Zemlick.com has worked with ECI for several years to help establish its online identity and manage operations. The dealership originally ran Britannia® software as its ERP system, but converted to DDMSPLUS software two years ago. Before the transition, Zemlick.com started to move its data to the cloud. “Our old software worked really well, but the cloud-based product is where the future is,” says Miller. “We just wanted to rip that bandage off sooner rather than later.”

DDMSPLUS integrates with every aspect of the business to ensure peak efficiency

Functions include order management, sales analytics, purchasing, inventory, AR/AP, and business intelligence. The fully integrated system pulls together to smooth transactions and supply up-to-date data to facilitate decision making. Miller reports, “Information is shared automatically across our business, which empowers each one of our employees to become more efficient and productive.”

ECI’s training and support enables the team to hit the ground running

“The training that ECI makes available is a tremendous asset during the implementation process,” says Miller. “DDMS has a lot of training videos on its website for continuing education and it also has webinars and videos that cover everyday functions to make implementation or ‘going live’ much easier. It was quite easy to absorb.”

Then, during the changeover, two ECI representatives were on premise for the first week. “That was huge! It was amazing to have them on hand and be able to bounce questions off them.”

Powerful reporting tools drive marketing insights and sales

Reporting and analytics available through DDMSPLUS enables Zemlick.com to make data-driven, fact-based decisions. Reporting enables Zemlick.com to develop sales and promotions based on customer interest. The products that visitors look at the most online become useful items for promotions. “For example, if glue sticks were a popular item one week, I may run a promotion on them the next,” says Miller. “So DDMSPLUS helps distinguish those opportunities.”

Orders and purchases are automated, resulting in lean-staff efficiency

Transmitting orders is a potential bottleneck that DDMSPLUS alleviates. “We get 70 or more orders most days,” says Miller. “If we had to enter those orders manually we would need another two or three employees just to transmit orders throughout the day.”

One of the toughest challenges independent dealers face is the constant pressure on pricing. The ability of DDMSPLUS to customize and automate the ordering process really helps the dealership stay competitive, says Miller. Customer orders are processed throughout the day. “DDMSPLUS enables us to use more than one vendor and split orders,” she says. “The system automatically runs the short buy report and then splits the order based on which wholesaler has the best pricing.”

To achieve the same results without automation would require manually inputting each product and selecting which supplier should get the order. DDMSPLUS not only generates the order but sends out customer acknowledgements and shipment confirmations. “This ability really helps our bottom line,” says Miller.

Productivity is up dramatically with man hours saved!

“Purchasing has become much easier using Auto Short Buy (ASB),” continues Miller. The ASB routine saves time and improves purchasing efficiency as it automatically receives, builds, and transmits purchase orders. The cloud-based software processes orders throughout the day and once orders are entered, the system takes over. “We essentially sit back and watch the computer work,” says Miller. “Closing used to take 30 minutes or longer. Now it’s seamless; we don’t have to touch anything. Productivity is probably up close to 25 percent!”

The benefits of using DDMSPLUS at Zemlick.com have been extremely positive, if not always easily measurable. The time savings, labor savings, and ease of operation all contribute to a work atmosphere that is positive and rewarding. “We have gotten back close to two hours of our day using Auto Short Buy,” says Miller. At the same time, the fill rate has improved by close to 15 percent. Customer service has also improved and Miller attributes that to the newly updated website, which now serves customers better.             

Finally, an ecommerce website that functions as a powerful marketing channel

Zemlick.com has had a selling website for 15 years. That site originally was largely static and didn’t really offer customers anything except the ability to make online purchases. Since the company started to work with ECI’s Ecommerce Website Design services, the website has taken on a new life and renewed importance.

Ecommerce Website Design service works on two websites for Zemlick.com. One site is Zemlick.com and a second site is for a sister company called Kendrick Stationers. The sites are co-branded and directly reflect one other’s logos and brand colors. Both sites drive home the important doctrines of the dealership—American-made products and buying local.

“Now we use the website as more of a marketing tool,” says Miller. The site serves as an advertisement and lets customers know which products are on sale. “It has definitely helped increase sales by doing that.” Online changes are made as frequently as twice a week and usually amount to rotating outside banners or larger banners at the top of a page.

Miller finds one of the most useful capabilities the design service is the creation of web banners and advertisements. A banner that might take her two hours to build can be given to the service. “I simply send them a message and let them know what I need,” says Miller. “I’ve put in maybe 10 minutes’ worth of work, so it saves me a lot of time.”

Customization features draw increased sales—and raves—from customers 

“I try to change featured items or web specials at least every week so there is a rotating variety of products,” says Miller. She likes to put up products such as safety vests that people might not think would be available from Zemlick.com to get their attention.

Website customization is one of the features we use most. “It you want to do a rewards program, you can flip a switch and manipulate the website to customize it,” says Miller. “You can even customize the site for individual customer needs, which we weren’t able to do with the old system.”

The new sites have been well-received and generated a good deal of positive feedback from customers. The Ecommerce Web Design service offers numerous possibilities to enliven web sites with different backgrounds and other visual features. “I keep it simple, as being easy to navigate is most important for our customers,” says Miller. “Since the redesign, web sales have increased close to 20 percent. Our website is now a great marketing tool!”  

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