MapMechanics includes more features in latest version of scheduling system
September 06, 2010 — A package of software and digital mapping products from MapMechanics is playing a key role in helping the L’Oréal Professional Products Division (LPPD), part of the international L’Oréal cosmetics group, to sustain strong growth in a constantly changing market.
The division’s UK sales teams take a highly proactive approach to the marketplace, responding quickly to variations in the customer base. The MapMechanics package is helping the organisation to streamline the process of managing the territories served by these teams, adapting existing territories dynamically to reflect changes in the concentration of demand, and creating new ones where required.
Since working with MapMechanics, the organisation has been able to introduce a new approach to using this type of software. MapMechanics now handles many of the “re-districting” tasks on a project basis, which reduces the training requirement for L’Oréal, and means the organisation is relieved of the need to allocate a specific staff member to the work.
The L’Oréal Professional Products Division is responsible for supplying products to hair salons throughout Britain. Under this umbrella, it runs individual sales teams representing various key brands, including for instance L’Oréal Professionnel, Kérastase, Redken and Pureology. In all there are seven sales teams in the division.
Managing the territories served by these teams requires almost constant review and reorganising. As Arthur Ehoff, LPPD’s commercial development manager, explains: “Our customers include a significant proportion of the 34,000 hair salons in Britain, and when you’re dealing with thousands of establishments, some of which are bound to be quite small, inevitably there’s a constant process of change.”
Whilst the actual percentages that change might seem modest, in absolute terms hundreds of salons might join or leave the customer list in a month. So the sales territories need to be adjusted constantly to take account of this ebb and flow.
The organisation has used geographical tools to manage its sales territories for many years, but recently decided to look for a new system, and chose MapMechanics as its supplier.
A variety of products have been supplied by MapMechanics, including GeoConcept Enterprise, the top-end version of the powerful geographic information system, and a range of digital map data sets. Among these are NAVTEQ street-level UK mapping, Geoplan postcode boundaries, Ordnance Survey’s Codepoint postcode geocoding system, and GeoConcept Territory Manager.
Arthur Ehoff points out that managing territories involves more than just maintaining the same basic geographic structure. “Centres of interest vary over time,” he explains. “For instance, several new salons might spring up in quick succession in one area, while there might be a temporary decline in another.”
Reflecting this, when a sales person leaves the company, L’Oréal does not simply allocate their replacement to the same territory, but reshuffles that territory and those adjacent to it to reflect the level of activity in all of them. “Or we might create an entirely new territory instead.”
The re-districting functions within GeoConcept and Territory Manager take care of this work, ensuring automatically that each territory contains a mix of establishments that meets all the criteria laid down by the company.
LPPD also uses the MapMechanics tools to monitor which products are selling in which territories, and to measure how much business there is in each. “It gives us a clear fix on sales and turnover.”
Working with MapMechanics on a project basis has proved highly successful, Arthur Ehoff reports. “Whilst territory management is an ongoing process, we might only run some processes every three months or so. Even when the software is as easy to use as GeoConcept, it’s asking a lot to expect an in-house staff member to become an expert when only working at that kind of frequency.
“By contrast, MapMechanics’ own people are working with these same products all the time, so they tend to have a high level of skill and familiarity with the products.”
Typically, Arthur Ehoff’s team will put together a brief for MapMechanics, who will perform the main preparatory work, and then the two organisations will arrange a meeting to fine-tune the results and deal with issues such as sense-checking the outcome.
“It works extremely well,” Arthur Ehoff says. “We’ve developed an excellent relationship. We know in broad terms what we want to achieve, so the MapMechanics team do the basic spade work and then we complete the job together.”
He emphasises that LPPD has bought full software licences for the products, and therefore has the ability to perform its own analysis in-house should the need arise. “But working with it alongside MapMechanics has given us an excellent way to get the best value from our investment.”
MapMechanics has been providing innovative solutions in logistics planning, sales and marketing, digital mapping and geographic analysis for over twenty years.
MapMechanics supplies and supports TruckStops UK, one of the world’s best-established routing and scheduling solutions, together with a wide range of other optimisation solutions. Examples include specialist systems for optimising transport of full or part loads, for servicing a high density of calls on the same streets and for optimising use of pallet networks.
MapMechanics is the UK distributor of the GeoConcept geographic information system, which is used extensively in a diverse range of fields such as depot planning, retail planning, marketing, healthcare, environmental planning and management, transport and logistics, site selection and territory allocation, telematics and command and control applications, policing and broadcasting, and central and local government.
MapMechanics also uses digital map-based technologies to offer an extensive range of Web, desktop, paper and component solutions for a variety of business applications, from atlas production to business analysis, site selection, customer profiling and vehicle routing and scheduling.
MapMechanics distributes a wide range of data products including AA, NAVTEQ and Ordnance Survey digital mapping, as well as leading business and demographic datasets from many sources throughout the world. This data is listed in the Data Catalogue, which is probably the most extensive and up-to-date printed listing of its kind in Britain, and is published at least once a year, as well as being available on the Internet. Backing up its extensive product range, MapMechanics offers a comprehensive service of implementation support and training.
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