Until recently, Mission stuck to Ben Page’s founding focus of renting linen and uniforms, while expanding into healthcare products and restroom supplies. Mission has grown steadily to include more than 2,500 employees working from 40 facilities in five western US states.
When the company decided to expand into direct sales of apparel products, it was presented with challenges as well as opportunities. With the rental business, Mission owned its own inventory and took orders manually—in person or over the phone—to maintain that personal touch.
However, with the move into direct sales, the company didn’t want to own inventory; it preferred to depend on third-party suppliers to fulfill orders. This new ordering process, and the expectation that the direct-sales business would boom, required moving to an e-commerce capability.
Mission partnered with an independent electronic data interchange (EDI) company to process the company’s e-commerce orders and send the orders to the appropriate supplier for fulfillment. However, problems arose.
“We were at the mercy of the EDI supplier for getting new suppliers set up, which could take months,” says Dave Pattison, Director of IT at Mission Linen Supply. “We had minimal insight into the order process, so we couldn’t fix problems quickly, which affected customer service. In short, we found ourselves very dependent on another company for order fulfilment in a fast-growing area of our business. We wanted more control over our own destiny.” … Read full article here