Distribution Centers Automation

The client is a worldwide renowned manufacturer of premium products, including design-centric preparation, storage, and serving solutions for the kitchen and home. The company was founded in the USA in 1946.

The client was one of the first companies to introduce a direct sales strategy: it won itself a well-known name thanks to its famous Home Demonstrations. The products are distributed by independent consultants numbering 2.2 million persons worldwide. The client started its Tupperware distribution in Eastern Europe in 1997. 

The company operates in the direct sales market. The products are sold via Home Demonstrations arranged by independent consultants for their potential clients. The number of consultants is huge: The client keeps a database for hundreds of thousands of data accounts. In addition, the consultants also operate in many cities where the distribution centers exist.

The Task 

Previously, the client specialists used an MS Access-based desk-top application for management and accounting, but as time went on the application would not meet the customer’s demand as it could not process increasing database volumes. Also, as the branch network expanded and the number of consultants grew, it became hard to provide the process transparency in order to receive the information on time for quick stock replenishment and financial analysis. To minimize expenses, the Company management made the decision to develop and implement a new system that would automate the operation of the retail sales centers and have a wider range of functionalities based on advanced technologies. Apart from servicing the multi-divisional network of the Company, the system had to gather statistical data quickly and streamline interactions with the supply center. 

The task allotted by the client to First Line Software was to create an internal application for efficient control of all the activities. The new system, based on C# and MS SQL, was meant to integrate all the tasks being executed – from adding the consultant’s new personal account, to follow-up of sales volumes and bonus accruals, and to ensure consultants are in compliance with the business rules of multi-level marketing (MLM) principles. 

A DINA application (Distributional National Accounts) keeps the information about consultants personal accounts and groups on track. It also records List and Labels selection and generation, compiles order carts, generates invoices, payments, and delivery documents, tracks accruing commissions to managers and discounts to consultants based on work results. In addition, it gathers sales statistics and generates reports and data selections, and performs forecasts based on the gathered statistics. 

The DINA application includes a front-end application installed on a PC, database-driven by MS SQL. 

This system, installed in a distribution center on several personal computers linked in a local network connected to the central server, already functions in two hundred cities in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. All the data is transferred and cumulated in the central repository on a daily basis. 

The client addressed us with a problem: a huge amount of data on the production process was accumulated at the plant and was not used. The data was made usable for analysis within the parameters of the system and was made implemented in a user-friendly presentation. The client already had a vision of the system on which we based and developed the concept of the solution. 

The Project Result 

The system was developed within the shortest time possible – three months. The solution was commissioned in several stages. Initially, when the production structure was developed, staff training was performed, and after that, the data was inserted into the system. As it stands, the solution is actively utilized and it meets the highest standards in productivity and corporation security. 

Apart from its productivity, the new DINA version provides for automatic data packet transfer between the central office and distribution centers, while generating statistics, and creating reports on the distributors’ operation. 

After conversion to the .NET platform, the system while keeping the same scope of functions, gained a new look-and-feel and became more flexible, scalable, and easier for support. 

Currently, an option of applying MOM/SOA technologies for efficient connecting distribution centers and the central office is under consideration. After the client commissioned the the system, CIS grew several times and it became the second-largest center in Europe in terms of sales volume. 

The Technical Stack 

  • Client: C#, Windows Forms, MS SQL Server Express Edition, BITS
  • Server: Windows Server x64, MS SQL Server Enterprise Edition

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