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CASE STUDY: STAPLES PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS

Transforming Manual Processes To Speed Up Time-To-Quote

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Summary

  • Integrity and Staples Promotional Products collaborated to address the challenge of managing a vast, fluctuating product catalog with monolithic applications, especially amid disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

  • Integrity introduced automated workflows, including a cost engine, PromoStandards integration, and an automated pricing engine, streamlining information exchange with vendors and significantly improving the efficiency of generating accurate quotes.

  • The collaboration resulted in substantial returns, including a remarkable reduction in time-to-quote, improved responsiveness to business rule alterations, reduced reliance on staff for onboarding, and enhanced real-time decision-making capabilities for both Staples and its customers.

Introduction

Today's customers have high expectations when it comes to speed of responsiveness, and the promotional products industry is no exception. But navigating a complex catalog with limitless customization options poses a unique challenge. Enter the collaborative journey of Staples Promotional Products and Integrity Inspired Solutions, united in a quest to not only meet but exceed these expectations, enhancing efficiency, and transforming the customer experience.

Staples Promotional Products (a division of Staples, Inc.) facilitates the customization and distribution of tens of thousands of products sold across multiple e-commerce platforms and customer segments. To serve their clients, Staples Promotional Products' systems must communicate custom product specifications between vendors and clients to accurately quote information for a large, diverse, and fluctuating catalog of products.

This case study delves into the impactful collaboration between Integrity and Staples Promotional Products to strategically modernize Staples Promotional Products’ systems, streamline internal processes, and elevate Staples’ promotional product customer experience through improved time-to-quote.

The Challenge

Staples Promo services countless clients, all of whom require a customized product catalog of information often supplied by third-party vendors. This exchange of information was being operated by difficult-to-manage monolithic applications, which especially presented challenges amid fluctuating vendor pricing due to disruption in the supply chain caused by the global pandemic. Given SPP's extensive range of products across various e-commerce platforms and customer segments, keeping pace with rapid changes became increasingly challenging.

 

In order to generate accurate quotes for new customers, Staples Promo's customer service representatives’ process involved time-consuming and manual tasks. Sales reps had to navigate catalogs, rely on personal knowledge, and conduct extensive research to find suitable promotional products. The complexity of this process often led to disconnections with customers and time delays. Recognizing the need for a more efficient solution, Staples Promo partnered with Integrity Inspired Solutions to address these pain points and improve the overall time-to-proposal.

 

SPP needed a way to allow for highly flexible, client-specific UIs as well as client-specific product offerings and pricing rules. And the many points of client-specific customization ultimately had to filter down to common rules that all other Staples apps could use. This collaborative effort aimed to streamline the entire process, from managing information exchange with third-party vendors to enhancing the efficiency of generating accurate quotes, ensuring a seamless and responsive experience for both internal operations and customer interactions.

The Solution

Integrity closely collaborated with SPP’s IT department to conceive and implement new workflows that automate adjustments across all systems affected by product pricing fluctuations. Several specialized services were developed to streamline the collection of various points of data needed for quoting. 

 

Cost Engine and PromoStandards Integration

Integration with a cost engine automated supplier selection based on various criteria, including cost efficiency. PromoStandards integration provided real-time price and inventory data, eliminating the need for manual research and calls to suppliers.

 

Automated Pricing Engine

The adoption of an automated pricing engine allowed sales reps to choose predefined pricing rulesets, including factors like desired margins and discounts. The system dynamically adjusted pricing in real-time, reducing the time previously spent on complex calculations.

 

This innovative approach empowered Staples to synchronize cost and pricing rules within well-defined parameters, eliminating the need to maintain a multitude of applications operating on disparate logic. 

 

Throughout the process of building the solution, Integrity provided SPP with frequent demos and reviews of the developer team metrics. These reviews not only demonstrated the progress made by Integrity consultant teams, but they also allowed for frequent stakeholder feedback that shaped the end product as well as empowered stakeholders with critical information for the planning and budgeting of the project.

Results Achieved

The return on investment has been substantial not only fro their time-to-quote, but also other areas that interact with that process. IT's responsiveness to alterations in business rules for negotiating contract pricing with vendors and customers has markedly improved. Plus, the reliance on Staples Promo’s staff for onboarding new customers or modifying existing product lines has been significantly reduced.

 

The transition has translated into a remarkable reduction in time frames, shifting from weeks and months to mere hours and days. And the access to these real-time figures provided by this solution enables both SPP and their customers to make more well-informed business decisions. Here are a few examples of those benefits have translated into tangible improvements for Staples’ systems:

Reduced Time-to-Quote

Time-consuming manual research between multiple platforms to identify products and their vendor product information is a thing of the past. What used to take weeks is now achieved in a matter of minutes, allowing sales representatives to respond swiftly to customer needs, enhance overall efficiency, and stay ahead in a competitive market.

Integration with E-Store

The system's integration with e-stores automated the setup of customized products and pricing, a task that previously required software developers. This not only saved time but also eliminated potential errors associated with manual setup.

Streamlined Customer Onboarding Process

When SPP builds out a customer portal for either a new customer or a renewal, customers can now see real-time prices for products rather than estimates. This transparency has streamlined the portal setup process and reduced the number of changes customers request because product prices are reflected accurately.

Accurate Price Margins

SPP can now accurately project their price margins and adjust product prices as needed rather than relying on fluctuating estimates and previously communicated prices quoted to clients.

Increased Transparency for Customer Oversight

Customers are now able to see product price changes in real-time and decide if they still want to have that product offered in their custom portal.

Decreased Time Spent Identifying Cost Issues

SPP’s access to accurate, real-time cost information now leads to a higher acceptance rate of purchase orders by vendors and less time chasing down costing issues that could impact accounting, vendor, and client relationships.

An Ongoing Engagement With Widespread Impact

With modernization and migration to the cloud being a key focus for Staples Promotional Products in recent years, Integrity has become a long-term strategic partner for the IT goals of the organization.

 

Integrity’s teams continue to collaborate closely with Staples Product Owners, Business Analysts, Business Users, and Management to deliver key strategic initiatives (like the project outlined in this case study) to the long-term plans of the organization.

 

Integrity also provides strategic direction to other teams, provides architectural guidance to the systems that are designed across the enterprise, and continues to influence the Agile culture that exists internally.

Conclusion

The collaborative effort between Integrity and Staples Promotional Products has yielded a transformative impact. Confronted with the complex landscape of managing an expansive and fluctuating product portfolio amid pandemic-induced disruptions, the strategic alliance between SPP and Integrity proved instrumental.

 

The outcome of this collaboration was the establishment of a harmonized system that seamlessly integrates pricing and customization rules. This accomplishment translated to heightened responsiveness, expeditious customer onboarding, and precision in pricing strategies.

 

Notably, this partnership remains an ongoing endeavor, with Integrity continuing to guide significant initiatives and contribute architectural expertise. The case study illuminates how strategic collaboration and technical innovation centered around user experience can transform manual processes into efficient workflows beneficial to all who use them.

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