New Zealand Farm Source (formerly RD1)
Infinity helps New Zealand Farm Source deliver great customer service across multiple channels
New Zealand Farm Source is New Zealand’s leading rural supplies retailer, 100% owned by Fonterra. Its major market is dairy farmers, and it also provides for the beef, sheep and horticulture industries as well as the lifestyle market. It has more than 60 stores throughout New Zealand, more than 50 Technical Service Representatives who provide on-farm services and a fleet of mobile sales trucks. In addition, Farm Source has a very popular eCommerce site and a busy call centre.
Farm Source’s requirements
In 2006 Farm Source (known as RD1 then) was looking for a new point of sale system that could cope with its existing requirements, and help it to grow the business with ease. The rural market is fiercely competitive and Farm Source needed a system that could help it keep to its company promise of ‘low prices, great service’.
Typically, Farm Source customers operate accounts and visit the store regularly, but they don’t come in to browse, they usually come in because they need something immediately. Staff need to quickly locate the product and customer account, and then complete the transaction accurately (including any paperwork related to firearms and hazardous product purchases). From an IT perspective, the new point of sale solution needed to be reliable and cope with network outages as well as being able to grow with the multi-channel business.
The Infinity solution
Infinity met all of Farm Source’s immediate and future requirements and was implemented in November 2006. It was integrated initially with the in-house developed ERP, and then in March 2008 with the replacement ERP - SAP Retail.
Technology Manager Andrew Singers says Farm Source chose Infinity over other point of sale systems for a number of reasons.
“One was decentralisation. Infinity has a Linker component that is embedded in the architecture and ensures data integrity. It also has very good account-based functionality and rich special pricing functionality. These were important to us because 95% of our business is account based. Third, the Extended Service Module (ESM) lets us customise the application without compromising the upgrade path of the core product.”
Network availability can be unreliable in rural areas, but Infinity’s decentralised nature and proprietary replication Linker software ensure built-in redundancy. If there is a network outage, transactions are processed locally and customer service is not interrupted. The transaction data is stored at the point of sale then automatically updated across the entire network when the connection has been restored. In addition, only altered data is transmitted so data transfer is fast and light.
Farm Source faced some unique challenges around smoothly managing accounts and complex pricing to enable great customer service. Infinity makes it easy to set customer pricing and credit limits from any point, through any channel. Payments can be split across multiple accounts and financing options applied if required. Similarly, all pricing and other changes are sent to the back office servers and POS terminals from the head office.
Roger Lamb, Head of National Store Development at Farm Source, says he particularly likes the system’s ease of use.
“Our customer service has improved since we installed Infinity. Having used a number of other platforms in the past, I was really pleased with the way our staff picked up on Infinity.” Because it is so intuitive, staff new to the system can be up and running within a matter of hours.
Since Infinity’s implementation in 2006, Farm Source has added stores to its network, including stores from acquisitions of other rural companies. It has also introduced innovative service delivery methods and channels including an eCommerce platform for both account and retail customers and a fleet of mobile trucks that provide on-farm services. Farm Source invested in Triquestra’s 'Train the Trainer' service so it now has in-house Infinity expertise which continues to help the company to grow.
“Infinity is the same no matter what channel the customer or store staff is operating. We now offer the same seamless customer experience on-farm, through our stores and on the website. Choosing Infinity has been a really good decision. We’ve got all the benefits of having a decentralised application but we haven’t had to compromise on flexibility or increase our support costs substantially.”
From an operational perspective Roger agrees,
“Infinity is a great all-round product. Our staff like the ease of use and it helps them keep our customers happy.”