STORES Magazine - May/June 2017 - 41
It's not an uncommon situation, says
Ann Monroe, vice president of worldwide
marketing for FileMaker.
"People often turn to the FileMaker
platform to build things around their own
processes, the ones that serve the needs
of employees, and help them be more
effective," she says. "The platform is also
flexible and scalable. So you can start using
it for something like inventory management
and just keep adding on to it."
For Wood Fruitticher, it was all about
bringing the company's culture to its most
important department - sales.
"There was coordination of data within
the company but it was inefficient and
confusing," Clapp says. "Salespeople
had to call different places to get things
done. You had to hope the right people
got voicemails and emails. It was prone
Functions like editing orders were done
by leaving a voicemail and relying on
someone to check it. Then you had to find
out via email if the instructions on the
voicemail were done, he says.
Additionally, every order that was
changed had a separate email associated
with it. The salesmen had no portal
to look at any time of the day and see
the current status of all their orders.
They were logging in online to fill out
forms which had to be sent as an Excel
document from their laptops.
"It was just rife with problems," Clapp
says. "Even if inventory data was an hour
old, they were sometimes unaware of
out-of-stocks on items their customers
wanted. When that was the case, we had
to send an email to the customer to inform
them, then follow up by calling them."
Fortunately, the company didn't have to
replace its entire system, just augment it
by bringing all functions together under a
single SalesPal app.
"Salespeople can now can make
changes to orders themselves and see an
updated order immediately," he says.
"They don't have to leave a voicemail for
someone at the company anymore."
The app can be downloaded onto an
iPhone or iPad, after which salespeople
and managers are given a user name and
password. If they need assistance using
it, there are video tutorials within the
SalesPal app. The willingness of people to
consult those videos has increased - this
means fewer calls to a company's help
desk or IT department.
'MORE AND BETTER' INFORMATION
Wood Fruitticher began working with
FileMaker late in 2014.
"I received an email from the business
team at the Apple store in town who
wanted to set up a demo," Clapp says.
"I'd never heard of FileMaker and I get so
many of these requests I usually don't go
to see them. But I was impressed enough
to download the trial software. I didn't get
around to trying it until six months later.
But as soon as I did, I realized we had
something good. Five months later we had
our first working version of SalesPal."
The ability for Clapp to do the work inhouse was a selling point.
"I program our backend system and I
did all the synchronization and integration
with the system myself," he says.
"The point is that one person was able to
develop an integrated mobile app with an
old 1977 ERP system. Every business out
there has old code floating around and it's
hard to get away from it. But this breathed
some fresh air into an old system and it's
been great for us."
Clapp picked up FileMaker from scratch
and developed two versions of SalesPal
quickly to integrate with the company's
ERP system. "I never would have dreamed
we could create a sophisticated app inhouse within such a short time frame. It's
not a pat on my back, but a testament to
Asked about tangible results, he notes
that being better able to service customers
is the most important.
"Our salespeople have more and better
information at their fingertips. You don't
have to call a buyer about rutabagas
and wait for him to call you back. We're
also getting quicker responses on order
corrections when a mistake is made,"
he says. "Fewer calls to the purchasing
department gives us more sales time. And
the feedback we're getting helps us build
better products and increase productivity.
"Based on responses from our
salespeople, the capabilities within
SalesPal are saving them enormous
amounts of time and increasing their
opportunities to make sales and tend to
customers," he says.
One of the most popular functions
is the Missing Orders section, which
ensures that customers' orders are placed
and confirmed before the day's cutoff
"We have a tough time juggling
everything in our business," Clapp
says. "It's easy to forget an order but
FileMaker helps us keep it all in order
and keep customers satisfied."
Meanwhile, the platform is continuing
to evolve. "Salespeople and customers
want more real-time information on
product availability. We have a high
fill rate but it could always be better by
knowing when and how much product
will be here."
"We want to take advantage of the
latest technologies," Monroe says. "So
we'll have to see what's coming out
with Windows and Mac iOS. Then we
ask how we can make the technology
accessible and easy to use for people
who are not programmers. We're part
of Apple and that's how we view the
world - helping people use technology
in their everyday lives."
Len Lewis is a veteran journalist and author
covering the retail industry in the U.S., Canada,
Europe and South America.
STORES May/June 2017 41