Since 2001 Victorian Cleaning Supplies (VCS) has been a leading provider of commercial and industrial cleaning and packaging products. Based in the Melbourne suburb of Fairfield, VCS stocks more than 2000 products. The business caters to a wide range of industry sectors across Melbourne and regional Victoria including schools, restaurants, medical centres, sports stadiums and nursing homes.
VCS is a member of the RapidClean Co-Operative, which is an Australian-owned company with over 65 outlets through Australia and New Zealand. RapidClean is comprised of cleaning supply experts managing their owner-operated stores, of which VCS is one.
In terms of business technology, for many years VCS relied heavily on a retail management solution that combined point‑of‑sale functionality with customer service, inventory management and sales. While proving an excellent asset over an extended period, eventually cracks began to appear. As VCS’s needs expanded it became increasingly evident that the system was not keeping up. This became quite apparent in 2020 when VCS decided that, at some time in the near future, it would add an ecommerce store to its company website. This would be a sizeable project that VCS’s existing business system would not be able to handle.
“By last year it became clear that the retail management software we had for so long was getting old and clunky and could no longer deliver on what we needed then and what we would need as we expand into ecommerce,” said Sandy Black, co‑owner of VCS.
The search was then on for a replacement business system – ideally in the form of an affordable, feature‑rich and easy‑to‑use Enterprise Resource Solution with strong capabilities in warehousing, purchasing, accounting and inventory management. The new system would also have to be able to integrate with VCS’s ecommerce system and its marketing software.
Sandy soon discovered that several other businesses in the RapidClean Co-Operative were Jiwa users. She figured that if Jiwa works well for such obviously comparable businesses, it will probably work well for hers as well. So she sought out their advice; the feedback was positive.
Sandy says: “After doing some market research and after having spoken with a few other RapidClean business owners it became apparent that Jiwa could not only meet our current requirements – and then some – but could also more than capably meet our needs well into the future. Including, of course, our planned move into ecommerce. The fact that a couple of the RapidClean businesses that use Jiwa are much bigger than us, and therefore have more complex requirements, was especially reassuring.”
“Put simply, Jiwa has dramatically improved our purchasing procedures and our business is far better off for it.”
In August 2020 VCS, with the support and guidance of Jiwa Solutions Partner Reporting Solutions, installed Jiwa 7. A part of the deployment involved integrating the webstore system Web Ninja, as well as the marketing platform Mailchimp, with Jiwa. The transition from its previous business technology to a Jiwa-based set of integrated business systems was fast and seamless, as Sandy explains:
“I was surprised by how quickly and smoothly the Jiwa implementation, which included integration with our other systems, went”, she said. “After a few days training from Reporting Solutions we were up and running. And that’s one of the great strengths of Jiwa – it doesn’t take long to become familiar with how it works; it’s a very user-friendly system.”
Jiwa is currently used on a daily basis at VCS for sales, warehousing, purchasing, accounting, and inventory management.
One of the benefits of a high-quality ERP solution is its ability to analyse sales trends and, based on that information, accurately forecast future demand. Without accurate data to rely on, predicting future demand is a haphazard undertaking, commonly leading to the undersupply or oversupply of stock items. Prior to the deployment of Jiwa, VCS had an ongoing problem with demand planning. VCS’s previous business management system was simply not very good at performing this important task.
At VCS purchasing and inventory management is overseen by Ron McDermott.
“With our old system predictive ordering was very cumbersome and not very reliable”, said Ron. “With Jiwa it’s a completely different story. After logging our sales for the month Jiwa can not only predict what we need to order based on historical sales, it can also forecast future sales based on whatever criteria we enter into the system.
“Despite our newfound ability to completely automate our purchasing processes I’m still in the habit of conducting a manual check of stock levels to identify what products require reordering. One of the advantages of Jiwa is that it will alert me to items that need to be ordered but which I’ve totally overlooked. Because of this capability running out of stock items is now virtually a thing of the past. Put simply, Jiwa has dramatically improved our purchasing procedures and our business is far better off for it.”
Another issue at VCS that has been resolved via the deployment of Jiwa relates to stock level tracking. Previously, there would occasionally be a discrepancy between what the business actually held in stock vs what their business system told them was in stock. Also, every now and then a sold product would have an invoice attached to it that was actually for a different product. This mistake would often not come to light until down the track when a routine stocktake would be carried out. Obviously both these problems were bad for business.
However since installing Jiwa VCS has gained far tighter control over inventory. Ron says that “Jiwa allows us to avoid many of the problems we used to occasionally encounter when it came to inventory control. One of the great things about the system is that it won’t allow us to create an invoice for an item that we don’t have in stock. If we don’t have that item it won’t process the sale.
“Jiwa also picks up on other discrepancies in the sales process. For example occasionally a supplier will change a product’s barcode without letting us know, resulting in problems when we finally sell the item. If we relied wholly on manual processes this type of thing could fly under the radar, however Jiwa nips this issue in the bud by alerting us to the mismatch. From a customer service perspective this helps us enormously.”
One of the daily realities of life as a provider of cleaning supplies is that customers often change their minds after placing an order – frequently in the form of adding new items to the original order. Previously this was a problem for VCS because their business system lacked the ability to change an invoice to reflect new additions. Whenever a customer changed their order the VCS customer rep would have to delete the original invoice and create a new one. For a business that needs to operate with maximum efficiency this was an issue.
Using Jiwa, VCS can now make whatever changes are needed to an order on the fly. Rather than having to start over again when a customer changes their order, changes can be entered into the Jiwa system along the way, right up until the dispatching of the order at which time an invoice is produced. In terms of efficiency and time-saving this new way of doing things is proving a big plus for the business.
“Prior to Jiwa I would repeatedly find myself spending an inordinate amount of time recreating invoices in response to changes that were being requested by customers – changes that often had to be made only minutes before we were scheduled to dispatch the order”, said Ron. “However now, thanks to Jiwa, once we create a sales order we can leave it in the system and make subsequent changes to it as required. It is only when our delivery driver is about to head out that we finalise and print out the invoice. I’m very pleased that those days where I’d have to scramble to make the necessary changes to order prior to dispatch are gone. Things run much more smoothly now.”
Into the Future
Looking to the future, there is a possibility that VCS may one day open a new store to service regions of Victoria that are currently beyond its reach. In this regard owner Sandy is pleased that VCS’s current Jiwa system will be able to meet the business technology needs of both outlets without any additional infrastructure investment.
“When I started evaluating Jiwa one of the first questions I asked was whether the system could address the business requirements of two stores just in case that’s the path we go down in the future”, she said. “Fortunately the answer was yes. It turns out we would indeed be able to run both outlets from the one Jiwa system. We can configure Jiwa to show each store’s profit and loss data separately or we can merge them together; it’s really up to us how we want to organise things. Although we may not end up opening a new store it’s good to know that if we decide to do it Jiwa will be a valuable resource from day one.”
It’s been nearly a year since Victorian Cleaning Supplies installed Jiwa. In that time the system has streamlined operations, boosted efficiency, lifted productivity and dramatically reduced errors in the areas of sales, warehousing, purchasing, accounting and inventory management.
Sandy concludes: “For us Jiwa has more than proven itself as a high-performing Enterprise Resource Solution. From a return‑on‑investment standpoint we are extremely pleased with the decision we made to acquire the system.”
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