March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 11.01.05

Homegrown Success

Personalized service and the right solution have kept Drogueria Betances number one in its field.
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By Michelle Maisto




From a cottage on Betances Street, in the heart of Caguas, Puerto Rico, a now-thriving city due south of San Juan,
Don Luis Cartagena Nieves began distributing medications to his neighborhood and nearby towns. In 1962 his son expanded the business to a 15,000-square-foot office space and founded Drogueria Betances. Today, its warehouse space has quadrupled, its staff grown to 120-plus, and Drogueria Betances is a drug wholesaler and distributor to more than 800 pharmacies, hospitals and chain retailers the length and width of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, offering delivery three times a day islandwide.

With its expanded territory and growth came a need for greater efficiency and communication, and Drogueria Betances cast its net for a mobile solution powerful enough to meet its needs but appropriate for a smallish company with a sales team seven strong. “We were looking for a solution to better service our customers,” says Juan Carlos Hernandez, general manager of Drogueria Betances. “We saw that if our salesmen had [the right tool] they could go to a customer site, take an inventory, print it, give it to the customer, and if the customer wants something from there, it could be done automatically with the device and sent electronically from the location to our facilities.” Betances found the ActiSales solution from e-Nabler, and its hopes for its sales team have been realized to great advantage.

Island-wide Coverage

“e-Nabler Corporation was founded in 2000 with the purpose of electronically enabling businesses to work in a paperless environment and therefore cut back on the ‘fat’ of any business operation while increasing security and reliability,” explains Joel Vazquez, president of e-Nabler. “To accomplish this, we specialize in mobile and wireless systems automation, eBusiness infrastructure, systems integration and [provide solutions] for sales and services companies of any size. e-Nabler exploits the advantages of new low-cost wireless devices and secure Internet technology, allowing us to offer advanced systems for a fraction of the costs usually associated with them. The beauty of ActiSales is that it makes mobile not only the sales or distribution force, but the administration also.”

Drogueria Betances deployed ActiSales on Hand Held Products’ Dolphin 9500 six months ago, and now reps can perform the time-consuming task of inventorying products for the pharmacies—the majority of which aren’t automated. The Dolphin is key in its ability to offer this service, as its built-in RFID capability enables the reps to quickly scan products, instead of tediously keying them in manually. The inventorying service has been a huge boon for Betances.

“Our customers now see us not only as a distributor but as a service provider,” says Betances’ Hernandez. “We go there and take an inventory so that they don’t have to do it. Also, another major benefit is that we can take that order instantly and send it to our facility, which [relieves our customers of] another time-consuming task. My employee goes there early in the morning, and they receive that order in the afternoon. So in less than 24 hours they have the merchandise available to them. They see that this is a service that they benefit from. They see us as a better distributor, and a distributor that saves them money, so they give me more orders. Since ActiSales was implemented, I have customers that went up in sales from 30 percent to 200 percent.”

Reps can now also electronically check the availability of products, which saves delays, and search for products by various categories, such as manufacturer or product name. “Generic names are hard to pronounce and they’re also hard to remember,” says Hernandez. “So we include in the ActiSales software tools that enable our employees to search for generic products by using the brand name. Since we have all of the generic products in our inventory, our employees can give the customer the chance to see [which
manufacturer’s] price is best for them.”

Seeing the value of ActiSales, some pharmacists have asked for it in their stores. “I go to the pharmacy, I install e-Nabler software, and whatever information my employees have in their mobile devices [the pharmacists] can see on their desktops and place an order through them,” says Hernandez. Will this reduce the amount of traveling for the reps? “It could be,” he offers obligingly, “but you know, one of our trademarks is the personal contact with the customer. The customer likes that we are making everything electronic, and at no cost to them my employee goes there and takes an inventory and tells the purchasing person, ‘This is what you have, this is what I suggest.’ ActiSales would give them the chance to change the order [later] for whatever a customer may need.”

Smooth Saleing

The solution Betances found in e-Nabler met its need to balance between the sales and pharmaceutical worlds. “Our solution for them is a mix of a traditional sales app and of a pharma one, because they need to collect some of the data of a regular pharma app but with the capacity of a sales app to record a sale of around 200 items in one order,” explains e-Nabler’s Vazquez. Among the features Betances was looking for in e-Nabler, he says, were the ability to keep track of which pharmacies have which FDA permits; the ability to pass on to clients flash discounts offered by the pharmaceutical companies; and the ability to electronically capture the signature of the pharmacist.

e-Nabler also met Betances’ price requirement. “It’s a cost-effective solution and yet provides 100 percent mobility to both the sales rep and the admin staff,” says Vazquez. “Drogueria Betances did not have to buy or maintain any software or buy any server. Our solution is offered for a per-month mobile license fee that includes support, updates and upgrades.” The month-to-month agreement is also ideal for Betances, as itdoesn’t have a big IT department. Says Hernandez, “We prefer it that way.”

Hernandez has also seen a return on his investment—“right now it’s more than 30 percent paid for itself.” And with increased customer interest, Betances’ sales team is growing. “We are now including more people. Now that it’s going so smoothly, and more customers are asking for this service, since they start to talk to each other—‘Betances comes here, and gives me an inventory, and gives me the order, and I confirm it, and they send it and in less than 24 hours it’s here.’ The news has spread that we offer this service, and they’re asking for it.”
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