SIGVARIS AU’s products can be life-changing for its customers— but only if they get a complex order 100% correct. When faced with ordering frustration from staff, direct clients and wholesalers, the SIGVARIS team used new technology innovatively to make the whole process simple and easy to follow for everyone involved.
Here’s Damien Peak, SIGVARIS AU’s Operations Manager, on how.
SIGVARIS is the global market leader in medical compression garments, producing over 8 million pairs of stockings in 2016 across our plants in Switzerland, Poland, the US, France and Brazil. SIGVARIS AU is its Australian subsidiary, with distribution partners in every state.
We sell direct to customers via a showroom with on-site therapists, as well as B2B to independent therapists, retailers, clothing stores, wholesalers and more.
It’s a complicated operation. We have over 24,000 different product varieties for sale, covering a range of different attributes: size, material, type, class and lots more (such as open/closed toe). That complexity brings issues.
The total products SIGVARIS AU manage using Unleashed, across 46 warehouses
The “B2C portal”
Firstly, it’s difficult to sell to customers direct — if someone gets their order wrong, then the garment won’t do its job. When that job is easing daily pain, everything needs to be correct the first time around. But the therapists in our showrooms aren’t salespeople and don’t want to be. Their role is to provide advice, not process payments.
We already had Unleashed handling our inventory management, so we used the integration with Shopify to provide a solution.
Our Shopify is set up as a ‘B2C portal’. For a customers’ first order, our therapists help ensure that they’ve chosen the right product for their pain. But the purchase is made by the customer independently.
For reorders, the therapist doesn’t need to be involved. The customer can complete the transaction instantly with no fear that they’ll get the details wrong.
Our B2C issues were solved, but our B2B ordering process was even harder to manage.
Wholesale clients didn’t have a therapist to advise on the single solution they needed. Instead, they had to pick the right option from 24,000 products for each item they wanted. Then they’d email our orders channel with the details.
Nine times out of ten, something would be wrong or missing, and our team would have to get in touch to fix the error. Often this would comprise of constant emails back and forth over several days, causing headaches and frustration for everyone.
Our admin team were spending all their time correcting mistakes or chasing missing details. They were constantly playing catch up and couldn’t help with any other questions or queries.
The problems didn’t end with B2B clients, either. Distribution partners faced a laborious ordering process, which would often lead to incorrect deliveries and more wasted time. And the Excel sheet we used to manage orders couldn’t state whether an item was available, or give a suitable substitute when it wasn’t. So if a product was out of stock, we’d usually lose the sale entirely.
Endless emails back and forth were wasting time for staff and customers.
A long, laborious process left too much room for human error.
Excel couldn’t provide an alternative if a product was out of stock.
SIGVARIS AU’s issues before the B2B Store
The B2B portal
We’d already used multichannel selling to solve our B2C issues, so it made sense to do so for B2B as well. We set up the Unleashed B2B eCommerce Store to handle all our orders from wholesale clients and our distribution partners.
Using categories and sub-categories, we enabled wholesale clients to choose their desired attributes quickly and simply. They just pick their items, select the correct attributes and complete the transaction.
We can ensure that all the important information is present and correct in every order. A process that used to take several emails — and several days — to get right now takes minutes, with zero errors.
The difference it’s made to our business has been amazing.
Our admin team has saved over two hours each day now they don’t have to chase extra information on every order. Plus, the feedback from our clients has been great: they get a better ordering process, as well as faster responses to any queries.
The eCommerce Store tells users precisely what’s in stock in real time, so they don’t have to wait for us to check Unleashed and tell them. If that product isn’t on hand, they can immediately buy an alternative (for example, the same model in a different colour) — instead of having to start the whole process from scratch.
Our customers are happier, our staff are happier, we’ve got our time back and we’ve stopped losing money on cancelled orders. It’s been another digital win for SIGVARIS AU, ensuring we can run a growing business that helps more people than ever overcome their pain.
Learn more about the B2B eCommerce Store.
Article by Patrick Foot in collaboration with our team of inventory specialists. When he’s not writing about inventory management, he’s busy jet-setting across the globe.