Established in 1965 and employing 18 staff, Melbourne-based Specialty Mix is a wholesale distributor of a wide range of pet and animal food, pharmaceuticals, stock feeds, supplements and health care products. Specialty Mix carries thousands of products and sources stock from hundreds of suppliers.
Specialty Mix has been a Jiwa user since 2006. Prior to then the company had been relying on a popular business accounting program to meet its financial management needs. But when the system started to fail to keep up with Specialty Mix’s growing demands, the search was on for a replacement.
“As our business grew, we realised that what we needed was a robust business management system with capabilities well beyond accounting”, said Megan Russell, Chief Financial Officer at Specialty Mix. “Specifically we were looking for functionality with warehousing, stock control and customised pricing. Our accountant at the time recommended Jiwa, and after evaluating the solution we could see that it ticked all our boxes.”
Keeping track of where stock is located at any given moment can be a challenge for any business. Specialty Mix has a warehouse for its wholesale goods as well an adjoining shop for over-the-counter sales. Every day products are removed from the warehouse and sold from the shop, so it’s important that the company stays on top of these stock movements. Using Jiwa, Specialty Mix has full real-time visibility of this aspect of its operations.
The flexibility of Jiwa allowed Specialty Mix to manage individualised pricing, as Megan explains.
Megan: “Our business would quickly run into big problems if we couldn’t keep tight control over our inventory, particularly as we have two locations that stock gets dispatched from. Using Jiwa we enter orders and they don’t get taken out of stock until we process them, so we always know what items we’ve got on hand at any given time. It’s very easy for us to know what we need to order, and we never find ourselves out of stock. For us the inventory management capabilities of Jiwa are very effective.”
Managing special pricing for particular customers can also be challenging. Specialty Mix prides itself on delivering ‘value-for-money pricing and a tailored approach to individual customers’, so it’s important that the company gets it right when it comes to managing its special pricing processes. The flexibility of Jiwa allowed Specialty Mix, in collaboration with its Jiwa Solution Provider, Austlink, to manage individualised pricing, as Megan explains.
“The pricing functionality in Jiwa is quite powerful, however to fully accommodate our unique needs we called on Austlink to create a plug-in that could deliver even greater customer pricing flexibility. For example we wanted one stock code with, say, 20 different customers all under different prices, as well as other variations on that theme.
“The customisations we set up now enable us to easily manage discounts and special pricing. We can now see the discount that the customer is getting based on the price list for that customer. Alternatives to standard prices now appear at the line level in Jiwa’s sales entry form which are then automatically calculated on the invoice. What would otherwise have been a very difficult, time-consuming and possibly error-prone pricing adjustment process has been made fairly simple thanks to the ability of Jiwa to manage such a customisation.”
Into the Future
Specialty Mix is a major supplier to the Best Friends chain of pet stores. Megan’s team processes hundreds of faxed product orders from Best Friends’ stores which have to be manually keyed into Jiwa for processing and dispatch. While it’s quite a labour-intensive process, it won’t be for much longer. Best Friends is in the process of moving its stock ordering system online, and Specialty Mix is working with Best Friends and Austlink on an EDI systems integration project that will enable the electronic transmission of orders directly from Best Friends to Specialty Mix’s Jiwa system. Orders will be received electronically by Speciality Mix directly into Jiwa, thereby eliminating the need for staff to manually key the orders into the system. Stock will be then be picked and invoiced. Once invoiced in Jiwa the invoice will be sent electronically to Best Friends via the EDI integration.
“Best Friends is one of our most valued business partners, however the procedures for processing their product orders were time-consuming and tedious”, said Megan. “That company’s transition to online ordering will be great for us, particularly as Jiwa has shown that it has what it takes to adapt to this new way of doing things.”
In late 2018 Specialty Mix will be opening up a new warehouse, ushering in further changes in the way inventory is processed and sold. The company will be introducing a PDA system that will be linked to Jiwa. Warehouse staff will use a hand-held scanner to scan the labels of items the customer has ordered; all the information associated with the order will be transmitted to Jiwa and converted into an invoice.
Megan commented: “Our switch to a PDA-based system of picking will not only save us heaps of time but will also improve the accuracy of our sales and inventory management. In short, it will totally eliminate the paper trail. We will no longer have to print out picking slips or do any manual processing of quantities picked. Jiwa seamlessly integrates with the PDA system, combining to create a solution that will enhance our day-to-day operations.”
As Megan’s long history with Jiwa has shown, the longer Specialty Mix sticks with the Jiwa solution, the more uses the company finds for it.
“As our company has grown and evolved over years, Jiwa has grown and evolved with us”
“The solution’s power, flexibility and scalability have proven themselves time and again for us. With the help of our trusted Jiwa solution partner Austlink, we have in place a business management system that will ably support our continued growth well into the future.”