Using Sales Order Software to Maintain Strong Customer Relationships

Sarah Leung
October 15, 2015

For stationery brand Emily McDowell Studio, the initial search for order software began out of a need common to many wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors––the need to replace carbon paper triplicate order forms with a more accurate, precise order writing method. That search eventually led them to Handshake, a sales order management solution that includes a mobile order writing application for iPad/iPhone and a centralized web order management platform. But Emily McDowell Studio––a company that sells to many small gift shops, clothing boutiques, and stationery stores as well as large chains like New Seasons Market, Whole Foods, and Urban Outfitters––found that the technology was also able to help them maintain great relationships with their customers in unexpected ways.

A Growing Brand

Since launching their wholesale collection of cards and art prints in 2013, Emily McDowell Studio has become a big name in the gift business. In addition to stationery, their product line now includes mugs, tote bags, and other gift items and accessories. Today, the company exhibits at some of the biggest shows in the industry, including Atlanta Gift, the National Stationery Show, and NY NOW. They’re working with over 60 independent field sales reps in the United States alone, as well as with international distributors in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. VP of Sales Charlie Wright has been with the company since its launch, and she was able to witness this massive growth first-hand. Today, she manages their wholesale accounts, field reps, and trade show sales.

The Downsides of Paper

When Emily McDowell Studio began selling their products wholesale, they were heading to trade shows with single-page carbon paper order forms, and orders had to be manually entered into QuickBooks, leading to data entry errors. As their product line grew, those forms eventually became 3 pages long, making the entire process even more unwieldy. “With handwritten orders, you leave yourself open to a lot of mistakes,” says Wright. “We wanted a more accurate way to take down orders and a safe way to collect credit card information.” Another reason why Emily McDowell Studio sought a digital solution was to get a better idea of how their business was growing. In short, they were looking for better reporting on trade show sales, sales by product category, customer order history, and other key data. “That information is crucial to have access to. Especially at trade shows, when someone in the booth might not be as familiar with a particular customer or product,” says Wright. “Now at trade shows, anyone can pick up an iPad and have a sales conversation with a customer. We can also run real-time reports at the show to see what we’ve sold and email it back to headquarters to start production right away.”

Maintaining Strong Customer Relationships with Sales Order Software

Since adopting sales order software, Emily McDowell Studio has also seen a huge––and unexpected––benefit to their ability to maintain strong relationships with their retailers. This feature is so useful that Wright and her team use the app both at trade shows and in the back office, where orders come in over the phone. “We try to do what we can to honor our relationships with retailers by not selling to a store right down the street. If someone’s supporting us, we want to support them,” says Wright. “But it’s a challenge when someone places an order at a trade show, and we don’t discover until after the show that their store is next door to a competing retailer that we’re already working with.” With sales order software, each retail customer’s information is stored in the database, including their location, and all of that information is accessible offline. According to Wright, “We just ask any potential customer for their zip code, enter it into our iPads, and immediately see whether we have existing customers in their area.” In the past, Wright would actually manually try to check store locations on the trade show floor using Google Maps on a computer. “The problem is, you’ll rarely get wi-fi in the convention center. The map would never load. But we can use Handshake whether or not we’re connected to the internet, which is awesome.”