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Customized Software Solutions Improve Store Management & Warehousing Processes

Ten Thousand Villages Canada (Villages) is a non-profit Fair Trade Organization that purchases handicrafts, food, drink, furniture, jewellery and other products at a fair price from artisans living in developing countries. The products are shipped to a warehouse in New Hamburg, Ontario and then distributed to 50 retail outlets across Canada. Between 3000 and 5000 unique products are available at any given time.

Ten Thousand Villages

Fair Trade Organization Improves Store Management and Warehousing Processes with improved, customized software solutions.

The Challenge: Outdated and Incompatable Software

Villages had an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at the head office, a custom point-of-sale (POS) system that was used in all of the stores, and an external webstore that all functioned in isolation from one another. The existing ERP was unsupported by its vendor and incompatible with newer software. Although each system worked well on its own, the information did not flow from one system to another. This resulted in many manual steps, extensive training procedures, and time-consuming data manipulation. According to Finance Manager, Charlene Poth, “We were limited in reporting capabilities. We did a lot of exporting into Excel and working with the data there.”

In addition, the head office was able to monitor inventory, but there was no dedicated warehouse management system. It was difficult to maintain a totally accurate record of inventory. Orders were filled by hand, which led to shipping errors and additional work for the accounting department as they processed shortages and overages.

"PeaceWorks was vital in helping us select the [ERP] software and ensuring that all of our systems worked well together"
Charlene Poth
Finance Manager
Ten Thousand Villages

The Solution: PeaceWorks and the Success of Change

First, PeaceWorks helped Villages select a new ERP and a Warehouse Management System (WMS). The next step was to develop a customized software solution that allowed all of their new and retained software to freely communicate with one another.

PeaceWorks built software that allowed the managers at every Ten Thousand Villages’ retail store across Canada to use their Point of Sale (POS) software to order new products, study their sales information, and easily create purchase orders. In addition, they can browse the Villages’ Intranet to look at stock, see new items, and make orders directly from that system. Head office also has the ability to send out inventory to each retail store directly. Regardless of how inventory is ordered, the data is synchronized and information is seamlessly updated at both the store and head office locations – across all systems.

The updated warehouse management system, complemented by compatible radio-controlled handheld scanners, is able to take scanned SKUs and automatically reduce the inventory levels in all software programs, simplifying head office accounting tasks and giving store managers an accurate view of available items.

The public website, where customers can browse an online catalogue and order products, can automatically communicate with the head office ERP and warehouse management system. Inventory levels are efficiently updated and head office always has an up to date picture on the status of all of their web sales information.

"Everyone at PeaceWorks is very friendly and their commitment to us is profound."
Ann-Marie Gaouette-Stevenson
IT Manager
Ten Thousand Villages

The Results

Head Office, stores, and web customers now have a direct connection to the centralized distribution centre, thanks to this B2B integration solution. This solution is a key component of the technical infrastructure needed to increase efficiency and multiply Villages’ ability to improve the lives of people in poverty.

With the improved flow of information, Villages has easier access to better quality information, more reliable inventory reports, faster sales information and more time to make strategic decisions. According to Villages’ IT Manager, Ann Marie Gaouette-Stevenson, more than 80 different reports can be created—from sales, to inventory, to artisan reports, allowing company-wide visibility to current data.

Villages’ Distribution Centre Manager, Craig Anderson, says, “Now we can know the precise location from which every item was taken. Real time location-linked inventory numbers allow us to cycle count at any time without stopping any other processes.” Plus, Villages now has a much more accurate picture of the value of their inventory at any moment. “We also know the age of the inventory,” says Poth. Knowing the age of the inventory helps staff determine which products to offer as sale items to the stores. More reliable inventory records also help staff make informed decisions as they reorder products because they have hard data on what sold quickly and what lingered in the warehouse.

"I feel that they [PeaceWorks] are very committed to giving us the best solution... the solutions that were developed are what we needed, not just what they wanted to sell us."
Ann-Marie Gaouette-Stevenson
IT Manager
Ten Thousand Villages

The Relationship

PeaceWorks has been a trusted IT partner with Ten Thousand Villages Canada for many years. “We’ve always had a really good relationship with PeaceWorks,” says Poth. “PeaceWorks was vital in helping us select the [ERP] software and ensuring that all of our systems worked well together.” In consultation with PeaceWorks’ staff, Gaouette-Stevenson worked on an extensive proposal for IT improvements that will further strengthen Villages technical infrastructure. “I feel that they [PeaceWorks] are very committed to giving us the best solution…the solutions that were developed are what we needed not just what they wanted to sell us,” she says. She appreciates the ability of PeaceWorks’ developers to explain complex solutions in “everyman” language. “They’re amazing. Everyone is very friendly and their commitment to us is profound,” says Gaouette-Stevenson.

About PeaceWorks

PeaceWorks provides first-rate technology solutions that enable organizations to achieve their mission with increased ease and efficiency. We focus on genuine client-focused relationships, connecting client needs with sustainable and reliable technology solutions.
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