DCS Europe: from clipboard to iPhone

DCS Europe: from clipboard to iPhone

Build It BetterJune 21, 2011


Enable has delivered an iPhone application to allow merchandising teams to capture real-time data during site visits.

With annual sales in excess of £130 million, DCS is one of Europe’s largest distributors of health and beauty products. Under the direction of founder Denys Shortt, the company has witnessed unprecedented growth over a period of seventeen years since it was established in 1994.

DCS supplies over 30,000 retailers and 500 wholesalers in the United Kingdom and exports to 70 countries worldwide. In addition to handling the distribution into selected markets of brands such as Gillette, Colgate, P&G, Unilever, L’Oreal and Cussons, the company has launched its own Enliven range of budget-priced toiletries.

The importance of accurate customer compliance data

Providing accurate, up-to-date data to their renowned range of suppliers is vital to DCS. Deals that are agreed between suppliers and customers determine which products are to be displayed by the customer, at specific prices and positions. Short-term promotional deals are offered and core range products are identified.

DCS has a national merchandising team on the road that visits all customer depots nationwide, ensuring that customers are complying with their deals and are meeting the specific requirements of suppliers.

In the past the DCS merchandisers were each sent a pack of paper-based forms in advance of each site visit. These were completed by the merchandiser as they audited the customer’s site.

Process inefficiencies

The manual process to produce and distribute these forms to each merchandiser for each supplier—specific to each customer—was extremely time consuming. The products and prices being checked would change constantly, requiring many hours of administrative work at DCS Head Office to keep the template compliance forms updated.

Once the forms had been completed during the site visit, they would be returned to Head Office at different stages over the course of the following days. Head Office admin would then be required to duplicate and consolidate the completed paper-based information before compiling a series of manually generated reports for suppliers.

The effort required to collate the information and produce the reports and the time delay before the reports could be provided to the suppliers were both unacceptable to DCS.

What did Enable do?

To combat these inefficiencies, Enable developed a web based system to replicate the old paper-based forms. The system allows the forms to be managed swiftly by DCS Head Office. The forms are immediately available for the merchandisers to access online.

In order to access the forms and capture the all-important compliance data, DCS has purchased iPhone 4s for each member of its merchandising team. Each team member accesses the system via their iPhone, selects the appropriate form for the site visit and enters their responses and observations directly into the application as they carry out the audit of the customer depot.

As soon as the data has been recorded, the system consolidates it into a series of standard reports that can be accessed by both DCS Head Office and all suppliers via the Enable-developed DCS Supplier dashboard.

Outputs and benefits

  • Improved efficiencies—simple, rapid and efficient administration of the customer compliance process
  • Reduction of human error—automated verification and notification that all data is collated correctly
  • Reduced risk and onus on merchandising team in returning paper forms to Head Office
  • Immediate visibility of compliance data and for suppliers
  • Automated production of supplier reports
  • Competitive edge for DCS
  • Facility to upload photographic evidence
  • Offline capability for depots where mobile coverage is limited
  • Basis for further iPhone applications
  • Improved staff motivation through the use of latest technology

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DCS Europe: from clipboard to iPhone


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