Run by Aga Rehfeld and David Bakker, Bali-based lifestyle and accessories brand Bakker Made with Love is an international success, with a global supply chain that includes countries like France, Poland, and India.

The company is in high demand especially in Europe, finding waves of new business through little more than trade shows and simple word of mouth. Almost two years ago, however, the company realized that there was something holding them back: Excel order forms.

The Excel Order Forms Nightmare

Bakker Made with Love manufactures home decor, bags, and children’s accessories, and each of their 750 SKUs are handmade in small quantities. One of their biggest challenges arose from the fact that they were using Excel order forms that had every single one of these 750 SKUs printed on one sheet.

If you run a wholesale business and are still using Excel for key processes, you’re probably already familiar with this nightmare of row and column manipulation, tiny text fields, and painstaking proofreading. The order form was a mass of text, with no indication of what a particular product looked like or even was.

Because Bakker Made with Love has a relatively small full-time team, they would hire temporary staff to help at busy yearly trade shows like Maison Objet and Top Drawer. It was impossible, however, to give these new booth personnel the ability to memorize which products corresponded to the SKUs on the order form, no matter how much product training was given in advance.

Things didn’t get any easier after the trade show was over, either. According to Rehfeld, “after a trade show, we’d have 200 orders on paper. Some might have a business card attached, and some would have indecipherable handwriting, causing it to turn into a lost order.”

For orders that could be deciphered, it still took the company two weeks to enter the information back into Excel and send a PDF version to customers as an order confirmation. That PDF would include only product names, quantities, and prices. Any information about available patterns or visuals of the actual item couldn’t be easily added.

The Sales Order Management Solution

Bakker Made with Love needed an intuitive order writing process that would allow their temporary sales teams to quickly find products and understand their overall line. After some research, they discovered Handshake. The night before a big trade show, Rehfeld downloaded and tested the app, compiled product and customer data, and imported it into Handshake. “Within four hours, it was all done and dusted. Explained and used. And the moment we had the app in our hands and showed it to reps who’d never worked with it, it took them less than five minutes to understand how it worked,” she says.

That was September 2013. Since then, Bakker Made with Love has seen huge changes in their operational efficiency. If a particular product is not on display at the actual show, customers can see high resolution images in the company’s digital catalog (this also makes it much easier for the sales team to upsell new colors and patterns). After leaving the booth, customers get their order confirmations right away, along with product details and color images.

Furthermore, if a customer isn’t interested in placing an order during the show, the Bakker Made with Love team uses Handshake’s interactive quotes feature to draw up a customized list of products they’re interested in, which the customer can later modify and confirm at their convenience.

The order processing side of the business has gotten much easier as well. “Before, everything was manual, and we would sit for weeks to get all the orders entered. Now, after a trade show, I just review the orders quickly and export them. I have everything I need to begin production.”

This has been a huge boon to the business. Because Bakker Made with Love works with small, local workshops to hand make their products, getting to production as quickly as possible can make all the difference. In the past, production wouldn’t start until a month after a trade show. Now, just a few days after a show, production can begin.

Do you have questions about Bakker Made with Love’s experience with Handshake or your own Excel horror stories to share? Let us know in the comments.