Beer Wholesaler Delivers Flawless Customer Experience with Zebra® Printers
Beginning as a South Texas beverage distributor more than three decades ago, Andrews Distributing is one of the most successful beer wholesalers in the country. With seven locations, it currently serves communities throughout North and South Texas. Growth, combined with a unique company culture, earned Andrews Beverage World's Wholesaler of the Year award in 2007.
At Andrews, drivers deliver much more than beverages. They consider exceptional customer service the most important product the company sells. A positive customer experience goes beyond a friendly, reliable face. It's about accurate, efficient transactions.
Over the years, the Andrews route sales team has tried various technologies to improve efficiency and service at the point of delivery. Originally, they printed invoices at the warehouse the night before each route. If customers or drivers needed to make any changes to orders on site, they were forced to hand-write them on the pre-printed invoice, which could lead to math errors and concerns about correct pricing. It also called for extra reconciliation steps at the end of the day when drivers returned.
Next, Andrews implemented a combined mobile computer and printer solution. While the Motorola MC75 handheld computer performed well, the printer didn't stand up to the demanding environment.
"Parts fell off inside the printers, paper didn't feed well, customers found it difficult to read invoices, and we had service issues with the vendor," said Scott Jenkins. "Over time, we had a lot of return merchandise authorizations."
Andrews Distributing contacted Barcoding Inc., a Zebra reseller partner, for assistance in implementing and testing the printers in the field. For the trial, some drivers remained on the old printers while others used Zebra RW 420™ printers.
Andrews discovered that as one of the few mobile printers to meet the stringent IP54 dust and water resistance rating, the RW 420 can withstand the tough demands of delivery environments. As expected, delivery staff found the Zebra printers resistant and easy to use.
"Zebra makes an outstanding finished product. It's more durable and we had fewer problems. Drivers were a lot happier because paper feeding is easier and the print quality is much more legible," Jenkins said.
Andrews also added the Zebra RW 420 Route Palette to carry both the RW 420 mobile printer and Motorola MC75 handheld computer. "It's easier for delivery drivers to handle the mobile handheld computer and printer as one convenient piece," Jenkins said.
The Andrews Information Technology team also neatly installed RW 420 Route Palette 4-Bay Power Stations on the wall at warehouses. When drivers return each evening, they simply hang their Route Palettes on the wall to charge the handheld and printer together overnight. Each morning, the palettes are ready to go.
When we can change invoices right there in front of the customer, the customer feels better and knows they have paid the correct amount.
Both drivers and customers benefit from Andrews' move to Zebra printers. With an LCD display on the printer, a driver always knows the current battery status. Before, without an indicator, printers died without warning. Also, a green light on the RW 420 Route Palette while in the 4-Bay Power Station shows drivers that the Zebra mobile printer and Motorola handheld are fully charged as they retrieve their equipment and start their day.
As drivers interface with customers, they log order changes in their handhelds—and take payments—ensuring that customer accounts are updated in real time and accurately. On the spot, they print a correct, legible and professional invoice for customer records.
"When we can change invoices right there in front of the customer, the customer feels better and knows they have paid the correct amount," Jenkins said.
The combined Motorola and Zebra solution minimizes and streamlines the end-of-day reconciliation for drivers and administration staff. Drivers already have all their paperwork printed and ready to turn in.
The mobile handheld and printer combination also enables Andrews to print static inventory sheets for each pallet of product each morning. Drivers scan the inventory tag printed with the Zebra printer, ensuring that the inventory on trucks and in the system match up. That simple capability cut morning inventory time from four hours to two hours and lets Andrews build orders faster.
For the Andrews Information Technology team, the durability of Zebra printers has lowered the number of maintenance issues and return merchandise authorizations as compared to the non-Zebra printers.
At the time of delivery, customers also experience a seamless transaction. "Customers can read invoices more easily and changes are handled accurately right there," Jenkins added. "They get one final, accurate, legible invoice."