When Data Comes Alive: Providing Meaningful Customer Insights with Real-Time Data
Not every business owner can see their industry drying up and make a shift to keep it alive. Timing is everything. So is knowing your customer. We’re one of the few companies who has been able to see the writing on the wall and actually act on what we’ve read.
Elite OPS started 22 years ago as a direct mail company. We had flourished in the multimedia market early, focusing on print media, procuring and assembling software kits, and the like. But about eight years ago, everything changed as our customers moved their businesses online. Our print, CD, and DVD orders declined. We quickly realized we needed to pivot in order to keep pace in ever-evolving marketplaces. We had a good thing going with our multimedia business, but knew it wouldn’t last.
That pivot was one of the best decisions we could’ve made. Our business now has evolved into a third-party logistics (3PL) warehouse, focusing 100% on outsourced warehousing and distribution, and we now have a 200,000 square foot facility here in Utah, servicing more than 70 different clients.
With the increased prevalence of ecommerce businesses, our customers want to focus solely on creating and selling their product. They want to have a nice office space, do their research and development, create their products, and then market and sell them. Their business operations are difficult enough without the extended complexities of logistics. With Elite OPS, our customers don’t have to buy warehouse space, hire a crew, or install warehouse management systems (WMS) and high-end technology to keep up with today's demands.
Drowning in Data
Two years ago, I was in an Excel mess—drowning in spreadsheets and reports. I constantly ran and printed reports for our customers. We created reports so we could pull data from our WMS for internal use and for clients, which was time-consuming and expensive for the both of us. But perhaps an even bigger problem was that the minute I created and printed a report, the data was out of date.
To properly act on your numbers, you need to know what’s happening, as it’s happening. Information from the previous hour might as well have been from a lifetime ago. We needed to analyze real-time data, so I immediately searched for a cost-effective business intelligence (BI) software solution.
In my search, I found Quick Base and tried it out. It seemed like the simple solution I’d been looking for, but the software quickly became overly complex, and I didn’t get the support we needed. Meanwhile, other options I looked into were just too expensive. It became clear that what we needed was a user-friendly SaaS model.
I felt like I was just spinning my wheels until I found . It took me less than a week to decide this was the right software for our needs. It was also a huge plus to me that it’s a local company and I could get to know the people behind the product. I dove right in.
True Customer Insight
After developing, learning, and understanding the software, we started doing real-time integrations with our WMS. Now, I can create dashboards and workbooks with up-to-the-minute data coming out of my WMS that I can display in a client portal. Numetric makes the process of setting up our client portal completely turn key. It is the most robust solution for sharing data at scale I have come across.
Our client portal used to be more like a glorified spreadsheet. The problem was they didn’t have any way to interact with the data. When we rolled out Numetric, our customers instantly had access to real-time data and could easily interact with the data through Numetric's intuitive user experience. The simplicity of creating our customer portal was truly a delightful customer experience.
Now, when a customer logs in to our Numetric portal, they see a real-time dashboard. The system shows them what orders they have, their status in the warehouse, and whether it's a new order or if the order's been released. And if the order's been released, it’s further broken down to picking status, packing status, or completely shipped. If one of the orders is on backorder, they can quickly click a button that says WFI (Waiting For Inventory), and they'll pull up all of the orders that can't ship because we don't have proper inventory. That clarity and level of interaction are so powerful to the businesses we work with.
With Numetric, our customers are more in control of their own businesses with this additional level of insight. We never want to be a bottleneck and slow down our customers’ access to information. Speed to market is incredibly important for all of our customers. The minute of one their customers places an order, the clock is ticking. Now, with our new setup with Numetric, our customer get the information they need, when they need it.
Our business is all about taking an extremely complicated process—logistics—and simplifying it for our customers. This simplification is exactly what Numetric provides for us. Data analytics and data mining are very messy, and they have made it crystal clear. Once I get access to the data, their tool allows me to get insights in a way I’ve never had before. Now that I have Numetric, it's like I'm a kid in a candy store. I’m constantly looking for new data to measure.
Maximizing Screen Time
Our new real-time data strategy gets me thinking about what our future with Numetric will look like in three to five years. We’re continuing to develop out all the dashboards to show us our financial analytics: revenue versus costs of goods sold, revenue versus expense, and more. And I’ve got an even bigger vision. I want to use Numetric to create a fully automated technology suite, with screens installed throughout our facility so everyone can see our real-time internal metrics, whether they’re on the warehouse floor or in the sales manager’s office. I want everyone to be able to take an active role in data analysis and decision making.
Numetric won't run our business, but it will show me the inner workings in such a way that I've never, ever been able to see before. The platform will allow me to make real-time decisions. If I'm out in the warehouse looking at one of these screens and I see something I think is off, I can quickly bring over a manager and say, "Hey, look at this. I think we've got an issue here. I need you to take care of this." Numetric is like that assistant who has all the answers; it has all of the numbers.
Part of what has me so enthusiastic about our future is that logistics has always been a thrill for me, and now, with Numetric, we’re going to take our business to new heights. I don’t know exactly what the future will hold. Given that everyone is still trying to figure out ecommerce—I don’t think anyone knows what’s up next.
After 22 years of doing this, I've been around the block. I've seen all these different businesses come and go. And it's fun to see how this industry is evolving, and how I can offer my customers a better solution than doing it on their own. The challenges of this business are what have gotten me out of bed every day for 22 years. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that whatever comes, we’ll be ready. And so will our clients.