Case Study: Crate & Barrel

Advanced data management workflow to manage freight payments.

Crate and Barrel started as a family business in 1962 and has grown into one of the world’s best known specialty retailers of housewares and furniture. The Crate and Barrel brand includes retail stores throughout North America, franchise locations in Dubai, and a thriving ecommerce and catalog business.

Headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, the Crate and Barrel family of brands today achieves more than $1 billion in annual sales and includes its more modern off-shoot CB2 and childrens’ home furnishings retailer, The Land of Nod.

The Challenge

Like many large retailers, Crate and Barrel’s freight payment process was handled by a third party vendor with ongoing data entry, account coding and payment errors. Crate and Barrel considered bringing it in-house but was looking for a low-cost solution that didn’t require additional headcount. The company sought a data management solution that would:

  • Cost-effectively manage freight payment internally
  • Eliminate errors by including checks and balances
  • Handle high volume and work with other internal processes
  • Support the company’s environmental initiatives by helping them work towards a paperless process

Why did Crate & Barrel choose IOS?

“I had an idea and IOS had the experience and staff to run with it. They took my brainstormed design flow and created a system that brought it to life. Throughout this innovative and new project they clearly communicated with me, were very responsive and went above and beyond my expectations.”

Rene Todd
Supervisor, Transportation Finance

The Solution

Imaging Office Systems (IOS) was already working with the Human Resources department at Crate and Barrel. Rene Todd, Supervisor, Transportation Finance, heard they were coming in to present their scanning and indexing tools and asked to be invited to the presentation. She had an idea that this system might just be applicable to her freight payment challenges. She was right.

After hearing the IOS presentation, Rene immediately started brainstorming a solution and began working closely with Angela Childs, IOS Director of Professional Services. The two partnered to create a customized workflow, from scratch, that managed freight invoice processing and even included auditing and reporting tools. The result is a system that has saved an incredible amount of time, reduced errors and moved Crate and Barrel towards a true paperless electronic invoice system for their freight payment needs.

  • Built-in calculations and double checks prevent duplicate and incorrect invoice payments. The carrier invoice charges are matched against the system’s auto calculated charges and any exceptions are flagged with an explanation.
  • Built-in account code logic ensures accurate general ledger account codes are assigned for each transaction.
  • Invoice process was brought in-house without requiring any additional staff. High volume is handled efficiently and with ease.
  • Each invoice is received as either a PDF or a flat file, which is electronically mapped into the freight payment system eliminating manual data entry. In fact, one person who used to manage paper invoices now has taken on some completely new job responsibilities.
  • Weekly invoice data now auto uploads to the accounting system so no additional keying is required for accounts payable.

The Bottom Line

  • Before the IOS solution, it was nearly a full time job to monitor, audit, track and correct freight payment and account coding errors – after IOS, they’ve had over 60,000 transactions with no incorrect or duplicate payments.
  • More than 700 freight invoices are processed internally each week with no additional staff added. In fact, the entire weekly process is completed by just one person.
  • Those invoices are processed quickly too – the system regularly can upload, audit, code and approve 150 carrier invoices in less than fifteen minutes.
  • Environmentally friendly – the majority of carrier invoices are no longer handled as paper and they are quickly moving to a 100% paperless system.
  • The ROI on this system was experienced in less than a year.

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