Building a seamless system for goods return to ensure both accuracy and timeliness and within a few weeks for a leading drinks company



Goods return can be a bit of a fractious issue for any company, but for one of the world’s leading drinks manufacturers there are excise duty implications too.

They were using a legacy system to record the results of the laboratory testing and the product decanting station. This was integrated with the CRM system at the customer end and SAP financial at the back end. However these were not real time interfaces, they relied on the use of flat files. Not only was the process of checking and decanting the returned barrels of product necessarily slow, the extensive use of spreadsheets and continual failures in the interfaces added significant extra delays.

The client chose to put their customer first and issue credit notes up front and take the pain of the delay themselves. However this only created a new problem. There was no imperative for customers to put the barrels of faulty product out for return and the system would simply write them off after just a few unsuccessful attempts to collect. To make matters worse, unscrupulous customers could even use the same faulty product to make a fresh claim for credit.

The client approached their incumbent SAP consulting group only to be advised that they needed to invest in a big new system which would require many months of design work alone.

The Solution

In stark contrast, the Pivot consultant recommended that the functionality of the legacy system be rewritten within SAP, given a web based front end and be integrated into the other systems.

Within 40 days the Pivot consultant had

  • built a new system within SAP to facilitate the adjustments required within the financial system, the issuing of credit notes and the payment of excise duty . It also gave the laboratory a suite of tools to better manage the process. This included the ability to read the barcodes of samples for testing.
  • built a real time interface with the CRM system to identify the product for the laboratory and to alert the logistics group to pick up the barrels in question
  • built an interface with the ‘Proof of Delivery’ system to identify instances of customers not putting barrels out for collection and to provide exception reports if a particular barrel of product had been reported bad by the same person more than once.

For the first time the client could track the lifecycle of every individual barrel, when it was filled, emptied and refilled.

The new system provided a more accurate and timely process overall to the benefit of both the client and their customers and all for a fraction of the annual savings made as a result.

“…your approach, speed, flexibility and IT knowledge was refreshing and I would like to have the opportunity to work with you again in future…”

Project Leader