Words by Earnest Lim
The secret to the increase in sales profit and revenue lies in Univercell’s embracing of technology and productivity
Univercell is a wholesaler and retailer of a range of IT gadgets – from mobile phones to drones. The business set up shop in 2011 and has been providing and assisting the community at 230 Serangoon Road #01-01 ever since. Univercell ensures that all staff members are well trained and able to provide details of products on offer. The company holds weekly promotions and includes more than five items as gifts for all purchases. Univercell introduced its membership card that entitled customers to discounts ranging from 5% to 15% on its products to improve customer loyalty. All these efforts helped the company to grow organically, expanding its catalogue of offerings to customers.
Surmounting New Challenges
As the company evolved, processes became more complicated, and the old way of operating caused several bottlenecks. As Univercell prides itself on its high quality of customer service, it explored ways to improve operations to serve its customers better.
There were several key issues that Univercell faced with its current method of operating. Firstly, customers who wished to place orders had to do so over the phone, and the employee serving the customer would manually write the order down on a form. This process was cumbersome for both the customer and the employee. Furthermore, it increased the number of errors due to misplaced forms and illegible handwriting. Secondly, Univercell had an extensive range of inventory that needed to be accounted for during stock checks constantly. The stock reconciliation was performed manually by employees as no system integrated the front end Point-Of-Sale (POS) and its backend inventory system. Naturally, this lack of a real-time system resulted in a constant occurrence of inventory errors which cost the company time and money. The management team could not consolidate and integrate outlet ordering with suppliers and had no insight into how well products were performing.
Univercell had worked closely with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to identify and solve these issues with the latest technologies under its WorkPro Job Redesign initiative. Through the initiative, Univercell adopted an e-commerce and mobile ordering app that would allow customers to place orders online. This system would directly send customers’ order details to the store’s backend system, including delivery address and customer details. Customers who order online are also able to pay simultaneously as the ordering management system can create and send digital invoices upon successful payment. This digital process significantly reduced the need for writing orders in physical forms, resulting in decreased errors. An inventory management system (IMS) was also introduced to improve inventory management accuracy. The IMS consolidated live updates of customer orders which allows the production department to receive real-time updates. The reduced friction increased the lead time for the production department to prepare orders, eased their workload, and reduced overtime requirements.
These technology-driven process improvements resulted in an overall productivity gain of 40% for Univercell. Senior workers in the company were trained on how to use these systems and have gained full competency. The time required to process a retail customer’s order over the phone was reduced from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, representing a 30% improvement. This ordering process improvement allowed the company to reduce time spent from an hour to half an hour. Univercell shared this gain in productivity with its team through wage increments.
Univercell takes customer and employee safety seriously, implementing all COVID-19 measures such as temperature taking and safe distancing within its store. Customers who wish to visit the store are encouraged to make an appointment before heading down. The business has plans to use these turbulent times to expand its online presence while maintaining the same high-quality service.
For more information on Univercell, visit www.univercellmobiles.sg