Discover how Swill optimized beverage operations for the nation’s leading shared workspace company.

Customer Profile

This shared workspace company’s vision was to create more than just office spaces; they aimed to build a community and a culture of collaboration among entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startups. With this idea, the company went on to raise billions of dollars of funding from the world’s top financiers.

With their new funding, They aggressively pursued rapid global expansion. At its zenith, the company was launching one new location per week across the globe. Embracing a visionary approach to the future of shared workspace, they spared no expense in crafting what they believed to be the ideal work environment, designed to foster collaboration and creativity. Each space featured premium amenities, including fully stocked kitchens with a variety of on-tap craft beverages, all aimed at keeping the creative energies flowing and the mind at peak performance.

The Problem: Rapid Expansion Causing Supply Chain Disruptions, Confusion and Errors

Rapid growth presents unique challenges for any company, and expanding into multiple cities and states requires adept management of diverse supply logistics for each location. While non-perishable items like toilet paper and soap are relatively easy to source from a variety of suppliers and distributors, many of which operate nationally, thereby simplifying the supply chain, the situation becomes more complex with regulated and niche beverages. Sourcing items such as beer, wine, kombucha, and cold brew involves navigating varying local regulations and dealing with specialized suppliers, making the procurement process significantly more intricate.

Too many different supplier variables to keep track of.

Working with local suppliers across various cities introduces a diverse array of operational processes. Each supplier brings its own set of unique requirements, including:

– Distinct ordering schedules

– Varied payment terms

– Specific minimum order quantities

– Designated delivery days

– Different accepted payment methods

– Manual paperwork leading to errors.

At the end of each month, each team was required to manually reconcile all receipts and invoices to determine which vendors had been paid and which still required payment, before submitting this information to their finance department.

For a small, busy team managing a location with over 1,000 members, this additional workload often led to invoice and billing errors, occasionally resulting in unpaid vendors.

Lack of data and reporting.

One of the most crucial aspects for any management team is access to accurate data. Understanding consumption metrics on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis is vital for effective corporate budgeting. Additionally, insights into the popularity of different beverage types at various locations are essential for informed decision-making. Unfortunately, such detailed data was not readily available.

The Solution: A Comprehensive, Vendor-Agnostic Unified Ordering System

The challenges faced by this company are far from uncommon. Suppliers frequently exhibit a wide range of business practices; while some adopt modern technologies, others continue to rely on traditional methods. Consequently, we often find ourselves working with partners who still operate using outdated systems. At Swill, we are adept at navigating these diverse landscapes, collaborating with partners of all sizes. Our extensive experience equips us to effectively support this company and address its specific needs.

Understanding the existing ordering process.

Over several weeks, the Swill team engaged with every office location and active supplier serving the client. Our goal was to thoroughly understand the processes in each city and the challenges each team encountered when placing orders with their suppliers. Key findings included:

– Phone Orders: Some vendors only accept orders via phone. If the vendor is unavailable, clients may forget to call back, leading to missed orders.

– Email Orders: Certain vendors only take orders via email and sometimes overlook the client’s order request emails.

– Delivery Cut-Offs: Clients occasionally miss the cut-off for the next delivery window and need to reschedule.

– Order Confirmation: Some vendors do not confirm receipt of orders, leaving clients uncertain about whether their orders were received.

– Payment Delays: Vendors that have not received timely payments may freeze orders until the balance is settled, often requiring the client to use a company credit card to clear the dues.

– Invoice Reconciliation: Local teams, overwhelmed with managing their locations, frequently postponed reconciling invoices and bills with their finance teams, leading to delays in vendor payments and errors in end-of-month financial reports.

Things that need to be addressed and streamlined.

With a comprehensive understanding of the processes and existing issues, our project goals became clear:

– 24/7 Order Acceptance: The platform must facilitate order placement around the clock, irrespective of the suppliers’ operating hours.

– Flexible Supplier Notifications: Suppliers should receive order notifications through multiple channels and be promptly alerted if they fail to confirm receipt.

– Automated Payments and Invoicing: Payment and invoicing processes need to be streamlined and automated to eliminate delays.

– Detailed Reporting: The platform should provide detailed ordering and consumption reports for the client’s management team.

The delivered platform

Convincing suppliers to use Swill

Onboarding suppliers was the crucial first step; without their participation, the platform would be ineffective. While most vendors were receptive to using a third-party platform for managing new orders, some of the more traditional suppliers were initially reluctant to adopt the technology, preferring the familiarity of phone orders. It took some effort to demonstrate how our platform could streamline their ordering process, ensuring they wouldn’t miss any new orders and allowing them to showcase their products to a broader range of corporate clients in the same city. Ultimately, they were pleased to have a system that not only facilitated order management from their computers but also guaranteed timely payments.

Training the 50+ locations

Although we designed the platform to be user-friendly, training each user was still essential. During these training sessions, we gained valuable insights into further refining the user interface, ensuring it was intuitive and accessible for everyone, regardless of whether they received formal training. Ultimately, the platform was very well received by all users. They appreciated having a tool that allowed them to place orders from anywhere, at any time, providing the flexibility to log in and order even after hours if needed.

Key Achievements

Enhanced Accessibility: Employees now have access to a versatile platform, enabling them to submit orders anytime, anywhere, eliminating the constraints of traditional business hours. Forgotten orders during the day can now be conveniently placed from home at night.

Real-Time Reporting: The management team now benefits from real-time order flow reporting for each location, facilitating yearly forecasting, budgeting, and informed decision-making. Additionally, insights into beverage popularity across different cities and regions provide valuable market intelligence.

Streamlined Supplier Processes: Suppliers now rely on a dependable system for receiving and confirming orders, with automated payment systems ensuring a continuous flow of orders. This reliability fosters stronger supplier-client relationships.

Expanded Business Opportunities: The platform serves as a gateway to new business opportunities for suppliers, granting them access to Swill’s extensive customer base in their delivery areas.

Efficient Market Expansion: Swill spearheaded the expansion into new markets by sourcing and onboarding new suppliers, ensuring they were seamlessly integrated onto the platform and ready to fulfill orders before new locations opened to the public, thereby facilitating smooth market entry.

Key Insights from This Case Study

For medium to large enterprises managing multiple locations, the Swill platform emerges as a powerful tool for streamlining operations. Offering customizable solutions tailored to your organization’s specific needs, Swill eliminates the need for drastic process overhauls. Moreover, as a vendor-agnostic platform, Swill seamlessly integrates your trusted suppliers, preserving existing relationships while unlocking numerous added benefits.

At Swill, we thrive on challenges. If you believe your company could leverage our platform and industry expertise to drive efficiency and growth, we eagerly await the opportunity to work with you.

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