Brewing Up a New Distribution System

Comer Distributing and Rutherford & Associates show that it takes two to make a partnership a success


“Migrating from our old software to eoStar was like going from black and white to color,” said Comer. “When we acquired our first wine distributor, we picked up 22 suppliers overnight. It would have been almost impossible to accommodate these new suppliers without the eoStar system in place.”

The most immediate benefit from eoStar was Comer Distributing’s new reporting capabilities. Because of the eoStar platform’s flexibility, Comer Distributing’s personnel could easily print reports and quickly view all metrics on an executive dashboard.

As eoStar evolved to meet Comer Distributing’s growing needs, more significant time savings in warehouse and delivery emerged.

  • With inventory visibility offered through eoStar, Comer Distributing decreased the time to check-in supplier trucks by over 30 minutes per driver.
  • Previously, Comer Distributing used one, long load sheet. Now, the company has separate load sheets for different parts of the warehouse and no longer has to manually cut them. This saves time and uses 75 percent less paper overall.
  • Inventory time has been cut in half with the use of Intermec rugged hand-held barcode scanners in place of manual data entry and counting.
  • By loading trucks in the afternoon, Comer Distributing can finish the day by 6 p.m. This enables the company to shut down overnight, unlike many other 24-hour distributors, which saves time and money.
  • Comer Distributing now takes only two to three minutes to check its trucks before they leave for deliveries at retail outlets.
  • While en route, delivery drivers use the eoStar “delivery application” on Intermec handhelds to download daily orders, inventory information and any data changes, such as new products, promotions or customers.
  • Comer Distributing converted from large, 11-by-14 inch invoices, to smaller, simpler invoices, more convenient for retailers and which provide additional cost-savings. With mobile printers, drivers can print invoices and receipts on demand at the customer site.

 

Additionally, Comer Distributing’s warehouse and delivery personnel experienced substantial time and cost savings, while the front office and sales team experienced significant benefits as well.

  • Sales personnel can upload orders and download the latest information on prices, promotions and customers in real time.
  • The accounting department eliminated paper-based bookkeeping by automatically exporting information from the eoStar solution to Comer’s third-party Peachtree accounting system.
  • A tedious 15-step operation of duplicate data entry and extraction was reduced to a simple three-click process by configuring eoStar to automatically provide sales information to suppliers.
  • Prior, Comer Distributing frequently missed opportunities because sales personnel did not know inventory levels during the day. Now, if a product arrives mid-day, the sales team can see it in real time and sell it.

 

“Inventory tracking and visibility throughout our entire process is paramount to not only attaining warehouse efficiency but also maintaining successful relationships with our suppliers and customers,” said Ray Roderick, Warehouse Operations Manager for Comer Distributing. “The ability to access real-time data during any point of the process or at any location creates a smoother, more efficient and ultimately successful process.”

A recently added supplier plug-in to eoStar allows Comer Distributing to access real-time inventory information to let suppliers know exactly what Comer Distributing will need next. This eliminates the guesswork in the reorder process and further streamlines the supplier/distributor relationship and ensures inventory levels will always be accurate.

Partnership recap

The most significant result of the partnership has been the opportunity for both companies to expand vertically within this industry. Comer Distributing experienced both short- and long-term benefits of increased productivity and efficiency. The eoStar solution’s functionalities have allowed the distributor to grow its supplier base far beyond to cover the more than 130 brands of beer, wine, malt beverages and some non-alcoholic drinks it represents.

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