PepsiAmericas Launches Next-Generation Mobile Workforce
PepsiAmericas Launches Next-Generation Mobile Workforce
Jan. 1, 2000 12:00 AM
PepsiAmericas significantly changed the way it does business by moving from a direct store delivery to a pre-sell model for its sales and delivery functions. Wireless handheld computers made the transition successful.
When you walk into your local convenience store, do you take it for granted that your favorite beverage is going to be on the shelf? As you make your way to the refrigerated section, do you ever stop to think about the technology that helped get it there? Yes, technology, particularly wireless handheld computers, plays a large role in assuring that your favorite drink is always in stock.
PepsiAmericas, the second largest anchor bottler of Pepsi-Cola in the U.S., has been using ruggedized handheld computers for more than ten years to make sure that shelves are kept stocked with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other Pepsi products. Recently, the company upgraded its mobile computing technology to a next-generation wireless handheld computing selling and delivery solution that will streamline processes, increase efficiencies, decrease errors, and grow with them into the future.
From Direct Store
Delivery to Pre-Sell
Earlier this year, PepsiAmericas made a significant change in its operations. The company switched from the conventional DSD model to one that separated the delivery and merchandising functions. This new way of doing business is called a pre-sell model. PepsiAmericas' business is now driven by the change to the pre-sell environment because order efficiency is the key to getting accurate orders on the right trucks so the correct products can be delivered.
For PepsiAmericas to reap the benefits of the pre-sell environment, it needed to outfit its sales agents with technology that would effectively sell product and transmit orders throughout the day. Today, its agents are armed with the tools and information to do business more effectively - such as pre-selling a growing array of products and inputting more timely, accurate data into back-end billing systems in the company's 123 U.S. distribution centers.
PepsiAmericas decided to fundamentally change the way it does business for several reasons. First, there was much inefficiency in the old model. PepsiAmericas' route sales delivery system was based on route agents having a set number of accounts. They often departed for their daily routes with full truckloads, and only some insight into what quantity of products would be unloaded during the day. With trucks returning 30-35% full at day's end to each of PepsiAmericas' warehouse locations, rising fuel and labor costs, as well as damaged goods, became a major problem that needed to be resolved.
With stiff competition for retail shelf space increasing with every new beverage introduced, PepsiAmericas needed technology that would reduce transportation and labor costs, grow the number of different SKUs, and get the right product at the right time, to better service its customer base.
Finally, PepsiAmericas has grown over the past five years through acquisition. With multiple back-end and reporting systems fully integrated, the company was ready to integrate the sales systems. Streamlining the sales process is making this integration smoother.
The Right Tool for Sales and Delivery
Today, PepsiAmericas is rolling out a mobile field sales and delivery automation solution based on handheld computing and wireless networking technology. The company is equipping its mobile workforce of more than 5,000 with the PDT (portable data terminal) 8046 handheld computer from Symbol Technologies, Inc., of Holtsville, NY. With the latest Intel XScale technology-based microprocessors (designed to optimize wireless handheld mobile computing functionality and performance) and Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 operating system, PepsiAmericas found the PDT 8046 handheld computer to be ideally suited to its mobile workforce.
PepsiAmericas is also outfitting its distribution centers with the Symbol Spectrum24 high rate 802.11b wireless local area networking (WLAN) communications equipment.
Making the Sale
One of the powerful advantages that PepsiAmericas' pre-sell territory account managers can utilize from this new next-generation mobile computing solution is the ability to collect and quickly process data. This provides important decision-making information that helps the account managers pre-sell to customers. Instead of waiting to make a sales call based on the next delivery date, account managers now have access to information that lets them identify sales history and forecasting, and provide accurate pricing.
Using the new mobile computing solution, account sales managers can maximize the on-site ordering process. Instead of taking orders by hand, which is slow and laborious and holds potential for errors, the information is entered into the Symbol PDT 8046 Pocket PC series handheld computer. Once the order is entered into the handheld, the data is transmitted wirelessly to PepsiAmericas' PeopleSoft-based back-end order management and delivery systems over a CDMA network operated by Verizon Wireless of Bedminster, NJ.
The hardware capabilities of the Symbol PDT 8046 play a supporting role to the applications that sit on top of it. With a bright 3.9" VGA reflective color screen that can be read clearly both indoors and outdoors, and a rugged form factor built to withstand real-world treatment and weather conditions, orders can be placed anywhere, anytime. The device also has a built-in bar-code scanner that will be instrumental in improving order-taking accuracy and efficiency.
PepsiAmericas recognizes that effective order processing is just one aspect of successfully utilizing mobile computing in its field force. Growing the size of the order is important too. To do this, its territory account managers are using the Symbol PDT 8046 to provide customers with the information they need to make smarter ordering decisions. At each customer visit, territory account managers can access historical trend information that is uploaded the same day over the distribution center WLAN. This information can be used to identify buying and purchasing patterns, recommend strategies so the customer can sell more merchandise, and compare sales of other stores in the area.
Delivering the Right Products
At the beginning of a delivery agent's shift, the handheld computer downloads vital information via the Symbol Spectrum24 high-rate 11Mbps wireless LAN - the correct product mix for each store, the route he or she will follow, latest pricing models, accurate trend information for each store on the route, and invoicing data. Symbol's AirBEAM Manager software is also used to streamline the entire wireless device management process including updating files, applications, and operating systems wirelessly and from remote locations.
When drivers arrive at customer sites to make a delivery, they use the Symbol PDT 8046 handheld computer to ensure that the correct delivery is made. The Symbol PDT 8046 Pocket PC is then snapped into the Symbol RP 1000 portable printer and an invoice is generated.
When a driver returns to the distribution center, the handheld computer starts downloading the data, which is relayed by a WLAN access point to back-end systems for route settlement. This process assists in load balancing the truck based on palette count. The driver then reconciles all receipts via downloading from the PDT 8046 and RP 1000 printer.
On the Leading Edge of a Trend
"Mobile computing devices have a very high return on investment (ROI) for enterprise field service operations," says Kevin Burden, senior analyst, smart handheld devices, at industry analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC). IDC put the number of U.S. field force service workers at 5.2 million in 2001. IDC expects the U.S. smart handheld device market to grow to 8.7 million units valued at $1.7 billion, by 2003.
for the Future
The PDT 8046 provides video and audio capabilities, which PepsiAmericas sees as a requirement for next-generation transportation and logistics systems. The video and audio capabilities can be used for training salespeople and drivers on how to use the device and the applications. Another possibility is using these features for customer presentations. The large color screen allows for playback of new Pepsi promotional materials and a medium to show off new store displays based on the time and season.
Agents can also use the large color screen to show customers promotional materials right on the handheld. Having access to visual and sound features makes it easier for customers to understand the marketing support for particular products, and helps them to make more informed purchasing decisions. The same functionality can also be used for dynamic training; road warriors can get the latest product information and educational materials in an audio-visual modality without having to report to a training center.
The PDT 8046 also incorporates the latest technology for scanning bar codes; the captured data can be used for historical trend analysis, and to increase sales. Signature capture is another feature, which can be used for proof of acceptance and delivery. Finally, since all of these devices are equipped with an 802.11b wireless LAN, wireless printing can also be an option to expedite the delivery and download process.
In addition to powerful features and functionality, the solution includes a 24/7 help desk and wireless network management support to ensure that the technology is always running correctly.
PepsiAmericas also foresees deploying handheld devices that are outfitted with wireless wide area network (WWAN) cards to its U.S-based field workforce. WWAN connectivity will allow employees to upload and download information anywhere, anytime. This instant access will allow PepsiAmericas to react to changes and solve problems more quickly and efficiently.
Technology Aids Change
It is also technology that helps bring the taste of new products to the shelves and into your hands so that you can enjoy your favorite beverages when you want to.
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