Giving Retailers Bigger Bang for their Catalogue Bucks

Business Intelligence, Business Performance Management and Dashboards. They have been buzzwords in the business world for a long time, yet for the catalogue distribution industry, their impact is only just starting to be felt.

The catalogue distribution industry is involved primarily in delivering catalogues to homes across Australia on behalf of retailers. Most Australians would be accustomed to receiving their weekly catalogues detailing the latest specials and bargains. For most people these catalogues provide an opportunity to find new products and brands, plan their weekly shopping list and make the most of what’s on special to save money. While consumers enjoy their weekly catalogues, getting them into the letterbox of almost seven million homes across Australia is a major challenge. For Salmat, Australia’s largest distributor of unaddressed advertising material, new Business Intelligence technology is helping them to meet these challenges, and it’s their customers who benefit most.

While definitions of Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Performance Management (BPM) vary widely between academics, practitioners and industries, both terms generally refer to a process of collecting raw data, storing it in a data warehouse for ongoing analysis and displaying the results of that analysis as information that can improve organisational decision-making. When this information is grouped into sets and displayed graphically, it is often referred to as a dashboard.

The first stage of the BI/BPM system implementation at Salmat addressed the two most important parts of the catalogue distribution life cycle – the delivery of the catalogue and the subsequent confirmation of delivery.

Business Intelligence

Salmat uses over 20,000 distributors to hand-deliver the retailers’ catalogues to letterboxes across Australia and a further 900 area representatives to check that the walkers have completed their jobs correctly. While managing such a large distribution network is challenging, the use of BI, BPM and dashboards has simplified the process and improved reporting.

Now when distributors have delivered all of their catalogues they call an automated phone system built by Salmat that enables the distributor to register their work as completed. This information is stored in a database and presented neatly in a dashboard to Salmat, which monitors the delivery progress, quickly identifies potential issues and responds accordingly. Furthermore, when the distributor calls the automated phone system, an SMS is sent to the area representative notifying them of the area that is ready to be checked. This provides the area representative with the information they need to confirm the delivery at different areas before the catalogues are taken out of the letterbox by the homeowner.

Salmat also equips its area representatives with GPS-enabled handheld devices that allow them to perform their checks with the click of a button, which means no more manual processing. The custom-built handheld devices use GPS to identify the rep’s location when the check is performed and immediately sends the data back to Salmat. This provides real-time information for the operations team at Salmat. The Salmat team also receives constant weather information, which is an important variable given the significant impact that weather can have on the ability of Salmat to deliver the catalogues.

With all this data stored in databases and displayed in user-friendly dashboards to both Salmat operations staff and its clients, Salmat has improved its ability to respond to the various challenges that are encountered when distributing catalogues. As a result of these technological advances, Salmat’s tried and tested delivery process continues to evolve. For Salmat’s clients, this means a better return on investment for every marketing dollar they spend on this media channel.

Salmat now leads the way in its industry for technological innovation, but has plans to take its use of BI and BPM systems even further in the future.

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