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Business Advice

iPads spice up sales orders

Computerised order-taking system boosts sales by a third at spice firm.
The Straits Times - August 15, 2012
By: Tan Chong Yaw
| More
iPads spice up sales orders Suriya employee Salil G using the iPad at the company premises in Senoko Industrial Estate. Orders can now be assembled on the same day instead of the following morning. -- ST PHOTO: TAN CHONG YAW

A spice merchant, which has been in business for half a century, has computerised and revamped its order taking system using iPads. It found that the new system was more efficient, which helped to boost sales.

Customers of Suriya Trading Enterprises now get their orders more quickly than they did in the days when the salesman jotted down orders on printed forms.

Suriya produces and sells pre-mixed powdered spices for curries and biryani to restaurants, retailers and caterers.

Now, when a Suriya salesman meets his customers, he whips out his iPad 3G and launches a customised app. With a few taps on the screen, he can place an order via a mobile data network directly into the system at the office in Senoko Industrial Estate.

He does not even have to key in an item name or number. He just chooses it from a menu. So order taking is much faster.

The system, which the company has been using since November 2010, also lets salesmen review earlier orders and check the status of customers' accounts.

"Instead of being able to make deliveries on the next day for just 50per cent of our orders, we can now do that for 80 per cent of orders," said Suriya director Jayadev Unnithan.

Orders can now be assembled on the same day instead of no sooner than the following morning.

Sales up by 30 per cent

Its three-storey building in a quiet street in Senoko has been a factory cum office cum warehouse for more than two decades.

With a staff of 50, the company sells more than $20million worth of goods a year. In all, Suriya offers about 150 types of products which are available through more than 500stock items.

From here, it serves retailers ranging from major players such as Mustafa, Sheng Siong, Shop n Save and FairPrice, down to provision stores.

Its products are used in the kitchens of eateries such as Gayathri Restaurant, Shami Banana Leaf Delights and Komalas Restaurants. Singapore Airport Terminal Services is among its catering customers.

Sales have gone up by 30per cent since the new system became operational, said MrUnnithan.

The software also handles all the calculations and adds goods and services tax automatically.

Tax rebate another benefit

The system Suriya uses is the Field Order Management System or Foms. It was developed by Web and mobile apps developer Zoliotech, which also developed the iPhone food order app for restaurant chain Pastamania.

Development took nine months in all and cost $30,000. The company got a $10,000 subsidy from the Infocomm Development Authority under its iSprint programme for boosting productivity in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mr Unnithan said the company was reimbursed within a week.

The company could also claim a tax rebate under the Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme which, in effect, gave it a further "discount" of up to 68 per cent on its investment.

Mr Unnithan's main concern had been to ensure that the salesmen took to the new way of working. "My salesmen have been won over. Now, they can't do without it," he said.

The company has also made an impact on customers.

"Customers were impressed. We were using the iPad for orders at a time when it was still new in Singapore," he added.

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