Improving Order Shipping Efficiency at Avon

Beauty products giant deploys IBM printing solution worldwide, sees product distribution improvements up to 40 percent

Beauty products giant deploys IBM printing solution worldwide, sees product distribution improvements up to 40 percent

Boulder, CO — October 8, 2004 — Beauty products company Avon recently completed the deployment of printing solutions from IBM in a bid to achieve mission critical printing competency at Avon distribution centers worldwide.

Based in New York, Avon markets its products in 143 countries through 3.9 million independent sales representatives. The company saw 2003 sales of $6.8 billion.

Avon elected to install a complete printing solution from IBM, including software, printing hardware and controller servers based on IBM Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) architecture, at its worldwide distribution centers.

According to Avon, it has achieved order shipping efficiency and product distribution improvements ranging up to 40 percent by implementing IBM Infoprint 4000, Infoprint 2000 and Infoprint 62 printing systems and robust IBM eServer pSeries servers. The IBM Infoprint Manager and eServer solution provides Avon with the ability to consistently meet its goal of shipping all invoices with products within 24 hours, according to IBM.

Before orders are transferred to the Avon shipping center in Munich, they are first entered into an IBM Server zSeries host system in the United Kingdom. To allow greater output management flexibility, the data is then transferred over TCP/IP to IBM Infoprint Manager for AIX Version 4.1. Standard line-data from the zSeries host VSE system is converted to the AFP format for increased efficiency, allowing for 2.5 million pages to be printed monthly on the Intelligent Printer Data Streams (IPDS) printers, and allowing Avon to send compound-stitched paper documents with every package sent to its 4.4 million consultants worldwide.

"We have hundreds of thousands of packages loaded and distributed worldwide every day," said Leonhard Aigner, director of IT at Avon Germany. "Without the addition of the compound document, this production distribution process would be interrupted. Avon's success is based on the ability to quickly, accurately and reliably fill orders for our customers, and the partnership we have with IBM ensures we have the most responsive, flexible printing and output management solution."

IBM's Infoprint Manager runs on two IBM eServer pSeries 630 servers, which control all five installed printers. While one pSeries 630 server is powerful enough to run the entire system, two were installed to facilitate disaster recovery and prevention. The pSeries servers are mirrored for complete redundancy. In the event of downtime on either machine, the other can handle the full system load.

The installed printers include three Infoprint 2000-AF1 Cut Sheet printers, one Infoprint 4000-IS1 Simplex Printing Systems and one Infoprint 62 (4370) Continuous Form Cold Fusion printer. These devices are designated primarily for shipping documents and labels, though they are additionally used for reports and listings.

Additionally, because the solutions are based on IBM's AFP architecture, Avon is able to utilize various paper types and finishing formats. The company is so pleased with the performance of the solution that it is deploying the IBM equipment in additional locations in Brazil, Canada, Spain and Turkey.

"Printers help customers communicate critical business information to ensure operational efficiencies across the enterprise," says Angel Bustamante, worldwide product manager for IBM Printing Systems Division. "Without timely invoices and shipping labels, Avon's distribution process would grind to a halt. Avon's deployment of IBM printing and server solutions will continue to translate into better customer service and substantial cost savings worldwide."