FTD’s order-fulfillment monitoring: Web-based dashboards improve customer service through online visibility into the order cycle

FTD’s order-fulfillment monitoring: Web-based dashboards improve customer service through online visibility into the order cycle – Software News

Brian Albright

FTD Inc., Downers Grove, Ill., is best known for its floral arrangements. But the high-tech delivery management system that handles its direct-to-consumer shipments of non-floral items–which accounted for 21% of the company’s business in the last quarter of 2002–has improved customer service through the use of new tracking capabilities that allow the company to monitor order fulfillment.

Until last fall, the company’s Web division, FTD.com, had no dedicated system to organize and monitor shipments of non-floral orders. The decentralized ordering system meant FTD.com didn’t have any way of monitoring order fulfillment.

Today, FTD.com uses Web-based supplier software from Escalate, Redwood Shores, Calif., to manage its orders and shipments. The improved collaboration between FTD.com and its vendors has improved customer service through online visibility into the order cycle.

“Gifts are a very emotional purchase,” says Dan Smith, executive vice president at FTD. “There’s time sensitivity to when the gift arrives, and the gift message must be right. Our business depends on this type of accuracy.”

Vendors now have access to a dashboard that lets them see orders organized using a number of criteria. “It allows them better management tools,” says Smith.

The Web-based solution acts as a communication and monitoring tool, providing vendor collaboration, order execution, shipment tracking, inventory visibility and reporting. When orders are placed on FTD.com, the Escalate system (interacting with FTD.com’s other back-end software systems) transmits the information to one of FTD’s 30 suppliers, who then prints shipping labels for direct delivery to the customer or recipient. When merchandise is delivered, the carrier (e.g., FedEx) scans the bar code on the package, and that information is then sent from the carrier back through Escalate to provide confirmation.

The system has made communication more efficient, and it lets FTD.com monitor the progress of order fulfillment. “Once the order leaves us and goes into the vendors’ hands, we can view whether the vendor has printed their labels [and whether] the scans happened at the FedEx level,” asserts Smith. “We’re tracking that order all the way through. It makes customer service that much easier.”

www.escalate.com

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