Connect Case Studies
Retail - Lewis Group
SOLUTION IN ACTION – TO PEN & PAPER
Lewis Group is South Africa’s leading retailer of household furniture, electrical appliances and home electronics, sold on credit. Focused primarily on the rapidly expanding middle to lower income market, the group has a credit customer base of close to 700,000 making Lewis the country’s largest furniture chain and one of the most recognisable brands in furniture retailing.
“We wanted a streamlined process that would better serve customers and employees. There were also goals to improve operating profit margin and reduce debtor costs. The credit application process was clearly an area to investigate”.
SMART PROCESS TECHNOLOGY TAKES PAPERWORK OUT OF CREDIT APPLICATIONS
Intelligent workflow software turns digital pen into first step of streamlined workflow
Lewis Group Ltd. helps South Africa’s expanding middle and lower income markets purchase household furniture, appliances and home electronics on credit. With a credit customer base of close to 700,000, Lewis is the country’s largest furniture chain and one of the most recognisable brands in furniture retailing.
“Credit applications are the first step in helping our customers acquire the purchases they need to better enjoy their homes,” said Charles Irwin, IT Director. The process happens over and over every day at 600 stores nationwide, and it’s a key element of customer service and eventual corporate revenue.
When a customer applied for credit, a store associate keyed in data, and three copies of a thirteen-page contract would be printed at the store and signed by the customer and manager. One copy went to the customer, one stayed in the store and boxloads of signed contracts shipped regularly to head office for processing and archiving.
Constant high printing and shipping costs hit the bottom line, while later locating the filed contracts slowed debt collection and delayed revenues. “We wanted a streamlined process that would better serve customers and employees. There were also goals to improve operating profit margin and reduce debtor costs. The credit application process was clearly an area to investigate,” Irwin explained.
Connect is very different from other Anoto-based solutions. Here is how:
- Add document composition and automated workflow capabilities to the basic Anoto Solution. The user data from the system is 100% correctly linked with the unique capture zones and doesn’t need any image character recognition (ICR) process to complete.
- Benefit from the fastest printing possible and low bandwidth usage thanks to optimised Postscript and signature capture zones, placed only where needed, instead of printing full pattern pages.
- Patterns are stored in a condensed format and result in low weight PDF’s perfect for archiving.
- No cost per page. Capture comes with close to 10,000 reusable patterns with every license.
- Integrates into any IT infrastructure thanks to Connect’s compatibility with most hosts systems, servers and databases.
“The optimised digital process saves both time and shipping costs. Customers get faster service, and employees can be more productive”.
Unique Combination of Pen and Process
An innovative digital pen and paper technology transformed the credit application process. The solution combines Connect workflow automation with an Anoto digital pen. Connect adds document composition and automated workflow capabilities to the basic Anoto digital pen, making this approach very different from other Anoto-based solutions.
Today, a store clerk still enters customer information in the company computing system, where the data is sent to Connect. Connect prepares and sends the personalised contract, and just a single copy is printed at the store. No more expensive pre-printed forms or wasted form inventory. Customer and manager sign the application using an Anoto Digital Pen, which captures and transmits the signatures to the main system where they are added to the digital form.
The customer keeps the original signed contract, and a high-resolution digital copy of the signed contract is instantly indexed and archived in an EDM system for easy retrieval later. “The optimised digital process saves both time and shipping costs. Customers get faster service, and employees can be more productive,” said Irwin.
More Optimised Use of Printed Forms
Reduced print volumes and toner use translate into significantly lower costs and improved carbon footprint. Instead of three multipart copies, now only one is used. The smaller PDF files put less pressure on network bandwidth, archiving and IT infrastructure, in addition to printing faster on common office laser printers.
When collection procedures must be initiated, digital copies of contracts are immediately accessible. Unavailable documents no longer delay debt collections. “This helps us maintain debtor cost targets at 35% to 36% of revenue and improves operating margin,” said Irwin.
Changes to contract layouts that used to take up to two weeks now take just minutes. Forms can be modified at headquarters and instantly pushed companywide to all locations for immediate use. This minimizes the IT burden and use of incorrect forms.
Making the Credit Process Worry Free
No major operational changes were needed to implement the solution. Connect’s Automated Deployment Plan installs and maintains resources remotely on more than 1,200 systems, including backups. This means less demand for travel and IT time and worry-free updates, upgrades and technical support.
Now when customers fulfil their dreams with furniture from Lewis Group, the credit process is as elegant as their new purchase.