SKU Management: Doing it Better with Order Entry Software

Sarah Leung
May 25, 2015

American Crafts currently manages over 4000 active SKUs under 10 brand names, selling into both independent and major retailers around the world, including Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and Target in the United States, as well as Spotlight in Australia and Hobbycraft in the U.K. The company sells products under both its own American Crafts brand and a family of nine other owned and licensed brands, including Crate Paper and Bazzill Basics. In order to organize their rapidly expanding collection of products, American Crafts was using an order form that most definitely did not fit on one page. It was essentially an order booklet––with all of their products listed by category on multiple pages. According to American Crafts’ VP of Marketing Grant Madsen, the company’s “product line has grown so much in the last couple years that the order form just became an unwieldy beast.” Indeed, no matter what they did to better organize and segment the form, sales reps would find it incredibly difficult to page through it and find the right product boxes to check off, and it was a chore to simply take an order. The company first tried to speed up the order taking process with a Windows barcode-scanning tool. However, according to Madsen, “it was so clunky and buggy that some reps refused to use it, even after we invested in customizations for it to work with our system. Plus, the hardware was expensive.” The order form presented problems for order processing as well. At trade shows like the National Stationery Show or the Craft & Hobby Association Mega Show, American Crafts would have up to 10 different booths (one for each brand), with a dedicated data entry staff person sitting behind a curtain in the booth, typing each order by hand in their ERP. It was time for a change.

Improving SKU Management with Order Entry Software

A couple years ago, Madsen came across Handshake, a mobile and web order management solution. Now, sales reps have all their customer information, product information, and order history stored in mobile devices. Orders can be synced back to the company’s ERP system, and with less time spent on order writing at trade shows and store appointments, more time is now given to talking about products and upselling. Within Handshake, each of American Crafts’ product lines is easily navigable, and reps have the option to use a Bluetooth scanner to add a product to an order. Where before, reps would have to open up a catalog or use printouts to walk a customer through all their available products, they can now use Handshake to simply swipe through all the different categories in the system. They can even pull customer order history reports to see if there are any product gaps they need to fill. At trade shows, where a rep might walk a customer through ten different booths, each featuring over 300 products, Handshake helps both reps and their customers get through each appointment much more quickly, allowing the American Crafts team to see more buyers and make more sales. Where order confirmations were once photocopied, they are now simply emailed out (with product images) right after the appointment ends. Madsen sums up the impact Handshake has had on both trade shows and store visits: “Handshake has made order taking faster and more efficient. Everyone has jumped on board using it and enjoys it. I, for one, love it and think it's fantastic. It's cut down the duration of time spent during a sales appointment by half.” Questions about SKU management, order management software, or your own trade show and store appointment challenges to share? Let us know in the comments.