Raving Fan - Imake

Imake are wholesale suppliers of high quality equipment and ingredients to make almost any type of alcoholic drink, cheese and yoghurt. The company is dedicated to helping everyday people make their own cost effective, fresh and delicious food and drinks in their own home. From humble beginnings Imake has grown into a major supplier to their niche markets. The company is based in New Zealand with operations in Australia, USA, Canada, UK and South Africa, offering a comprehensive range of over 3,000 products for spirits and liqueurs, beer and wine, through to cheese and yoghurt.
The Scenario
Imake is a long-term user of Sage 300 ERP and its predecessors, supported by Enabling for many years. The original decision was triggered by the need to control rapidly expanding operations and ensure that all areas of the business continued to operate smoothly and efficiently. The solution needed to be competitive on cost and high in value, and highly customisable to meet the specific requirements of a growing company, operating around the world.  Issues faced by Imake included being able to handle purchasing and scheduling from a wide range of suppliers both local and overseas, differing raw material lead times, multiple currencies, forecasting, and special purchasing issues. Other issues included a need for fast processing, easy functionality requiring uncomplicated training, and capability to easily import and export spreadsheet data – such as to process emailed customer orders and for inventory planning. Their Sage 300 ERP system passed these tests with flying colours.
Faced with further growth, both in New Zealand as well as Australia and beyond, in 2008 Imake met further challenges. The company’s sales and marketing system had been developed internally as a Microsoft Access database. This was now getting unwieldy and did not integrate well with other systems. Imake needed a solution that could handle all contacts, campaigns and communications. This pointed to an up to date CRM solution, with the features this could bring. There was also a requirement to further improve the customer experience when ordering.
The Solution
Imake already had Sage 300 ERP for accounting and distribution, implemented by Enabling. This was a highly successful solution augmented by additional third party modules, including EFT Processing and analysis and report automation modules from Orchid. The EFT module provides a streamlined payment and collections process to link with the bank system. With the aim of strengthening customer relationship management, detailed requirements were drawn up. After reviewing a range of options, Imake selected Sage CRM from Enabling. This provided many benefits. It offered a full-featured customer relationship management system that gives access to vital customer information anywhere, anytime and integrates fully with Sage 300 ERP, ensuring all users are accessing the same up to date customer information.
This meant no more difficulties with out of date records because different systems always had to be updated; any changes flow through to both accounting and customer service/sales. With almost 300 suppliers and a massive inventory list of over 3,000 products, purchase planning is crucial and very time consuming and complicated to perform manually. Enabling provided vital assistance in meeting any requirement like this that arose. They set up a MRP tool which looks at the multiple levels of BOM as well as historical sales to gauge demand, and then provides information on what raw materials need to be purchased to maintain optimal inventory levels. These quantities are imported into PO after making the necessary adjustments to ensure the container is fully loaded. Another important update to the Imake solution is the XM Oxygen web store which allows retailers to order online. This integrates with Sage 300 ERP in real time so that orders go directly for processing and to the warehouse for picking. The integration simplifies administration too, as inventory information, pricing, including special offers and discounts as well as customer information, are always up to date.
The Results
Sage 300 ERP has been highly successful for Imake. The initial implementation went smoothly, with extensive planning and collaboration between Enabling and Imake personnel to ensure this. This experience was repeated with each upgrade and new module. With an international operation, any downtime would be a disaster. “Enabling’s implementation of purchasing customisation was a huge and critical thing for us,” says General Manager, Victoria Lytton. “They also suggested modifications that would make the solution work better, faster, and more efficiently, based upon their long experience with the product.”
The solutions developed for New Zealand were easily replicated for the US too, making it possible to have a new operation up and running quickly. The benefits have been significant. “Preparing our financial reports is more timely and information at the end of the month is available much quicker than before. The third-party Info Explorer module provides important insight into our sales numbers, and easy access to up-to-the-minute data. The Report Runner module, from Orchid, provides a central point for having reports produced. Reporting used to be a clumsy process; we are now able to easily open and access available reports.”
Sage CRM makes our communications management much more efficient,” says Victoria Lytton. It incorporates information for both customers and suppliers, and provides instant access to all communications with each contact, including documents such as invoices stored in Sage 300 ERP. Its functionality was available with a small implementation effort, and it instantly syncs with Sage 300 ERP.
This is important, because now sales staff know when the customer has been previously contacted by other staff for a credit check, as an example. The main thing is that all customer and supplier information is immediately available at the click of a mouse, and there is no more struggling to keep everything up to date.
The Oxygen web store, while intended for wholesale customers, has had a side benefit of making product information available to end user customers. It has proven highly successful. By enabling online ordering, processing costs are cut and personnel requirements significantly reduced. It is easy for customers to order efficiently, with photos and reference material for all products the company supplies. The web store is easy to administer too. With direct integration with Sage 300 ERP for inventory, pricing and financials there is no need to import and export data, re-enter information from a separate system, or worry about being out of sync.
The Sage 300 ERP-Sage CRM solution from Enabling provides a sure foundation for Imake’s growth. With many advantages, including faster month end and more insightful reporting, automated and streamlined processes, and an enhanced customer ordering experience backed up by a smart inventory control system, Imake’s expansion into multiple international operations would not possible without such a reliable, stable system.
“Enabling has been excellent, We have had the same technical people throughout. The relationship is very good and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Victoria Lytton – Imake


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