The Reject Shop Improves Productivity and Workflow with Alfresco and SAP

The Reject Shop Ltd. is Australia’s largest discount variety retailer offering a wide range of quality consumer goods and branded merchandise, all at consistently low prices. The company is headquartered in Melbourne with distribution centres in Melbourne, Queensland and Western Australia.

Challenge

With more than 330 retail stores and 5,000 team members spread across Australia and three remote distribution centres, The Reject Shop creates a lot of paperwork.

Before Alfresco, paper documents were gathered once or twice a week at the distribution centre locations and taken by courier to the head office for invoice processing. This was expensive and caused a delay in getting documents into the hands of the company’s Accounts Payable department.

Due to the delay in receiving, it was often difficult for Accounts Payable to address cost and quantity issues.

“The Finance department was also struggling to process all of the paper documents in a timely manner,” said Edwin Chong, The Reject Shop’s IT project manager. “Not only were they processing what was coming through, but also had to deal with storing them.”

Documents were first stored onsite, and then eventually moved to offsite storage. This was expensive and made it very difficult to locate a particular invoice when there was a request from an auditor or a price inquiry from the buying team.

Solution

In an effort to automate this process, The Reject Shop began looking for a solution that would simplify its document management workflow, accept scanned documents and metadata, and integrate with SAP. After evaluating several solutions, the company chose Alfresco One.

The company began working with Alfresco technology partner pernexas, based in Germany, for their certified SAP-Alfresco integration solution named connexas, and system implementation partner Lateral Minds, based in Sydney. In March 2013, Alfresco was rolled out to The Reject Shop’s accounts payable team. 

"We wanted to present documents to users in SAP. We didn’t want the user to have to go to some other system to see the documents, then jump to SAP to key it all in,” said Chong. “It was really about keeping users in SAP, but having a system on the backend to capture these documents and an integration mechanism to present these document links effectively to the SAP user.”

In addition to the strong SAP integration with connexas, the company chose Alfresco based on its ease of use and open architecture.

“We didn’t want to be locked down to one particular proprietary standard. We wanted to go with something that was open source,” Chong said. “Alfresco was very competitively priced and could do what we needed and more. It has a great community and felt like a nimble platform we could start with and grow into.”

Results

The Reject Shop currently has over 60,000 documents stored in Alfresco today. When a paper invoice comes into a particular distribution centre, it is scanned and uploaded into Alfresco so that it can be processed by the accounts payable team.

One of the biggest benefits has been the cost savings associated with fewer courier deliveries from the distribution centres locations to the head office, fewer offsite storage fees, and the speed at which documents are passed on to the head office.

“Rather than waiting a week – and a week is a very long time these days – AP is receiving documents within the hour,” said Chong. “They don’t have to look at piles of documents anymore and have confidence that they can pull out any document they need and provide it to anyone who needs it. They are great champions of the process.”

In the future, The Reject Shop plans to extend the Alfresco platform to manage documents associated with its outsourcers and freight forwarders in China as well.

“Our whole logistics and supply chain process is very paper-intensive as well,” said Chong. “It will be fairly straightforward to leverage what we have already done with Alfresco into that overseas AP process.”

The company is also evaluating Alfresco to improve other business processes.

“We know we have a lot of paper moving around. Documents go into folders, then have to be stamped and approved before going to finance,” said Chong. “We would like to get these documents into Alfresco right from the beginning and take advantage of a digital workflow environment.”