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OpenERP functionality development for Made.com: A Case Study

Irenie White

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Rugby, UK - 19 July 2011

credativ have been helping clients to benefit from OpenERP for 3 years now. During this time we have made 10 deployments from our UK office, including customising and writing additional accounting, invoicing, VAT, and reporting modules for specific client requests, many of which have been sent back upstream to further the development of the project. Our engineers have also worked on integrating with Magento web stores and have merged many branches into OpenERP Server -web and -addons, including improving the performance of the web client by running it behind mod_wsgi.

During the OpenERP Community Days in March this year, one of credativ's Consultants became the first community member (non-OpenERP employee) to have contributed to the upcoming web client 6.1. As part of each deployment, credativ have delivered user and admin training to customer candidates.

Here we take a look at the journey with Made.com, who our UK experts have been working closely with over the past year to design, develop and deploy further functionality in OpenERP.

About Made.com

Made.com is an ecommerce business in the home furnishings sector, selling indoor and outdoor furniture, artwork and leisure products directly from overseas factories to customers in the UK. They currently have 30 employees, based in London and Shanghai, with a warehouse near Ipswich. Their systems have 25 users, including the fulfilment, sourcing, customer service and quality control teams, as well as financial staff who use the data to manage the monthly ins and outs.

The Challenge

The Made.com business model is unique in that they take orders for stock prior to ordering it from suppliers, enabling them to fill containers and order in quantities high enough to keep the overall costs down, and thereby pass significant savings on to customers. Due to the long order lead time, it was important to Made.com to be able to automatically email customers at various stages along the process, such as when manufacture had completed and their item had been loaded into a container, and when it was about to be despatched from the warehouse. All this would help them deliver as transparent and seamless a user experience as possible to their customers.

Requirements

In order to be able to provide accurate delivery information to their customers, they needed to be able to allocate stock to customers before it arrived at the warehouse in Ipswich. This allocation information is used throughout the day in the customer service department in response to customer queries, and is also passed to the Magento website to provide the user with up-to-the-minute information about the status and expected arrival date of their order. This requirement meant that they needed a software solution which could be modified to grant them the ability to allocate customer orders to purchase orders prior to it arriving, which is not a default behaviour.

Solutions considered

As the challenge was not based on an existing system, it was designed from scratch between Andy Skipper, Chief Technology Officer at Made.com, credativ and the Magento development agency used to build the initial version of the website. Made.com had considered several other stock management and ERP systems, including SAP, Netsuite and ERPLY, but decided that OpenERP offered the most flexibility and agile development capabilities. By selecting an open source solution, the whole process was vastly more cost effective than it would have been, had they tried to modify a proprietary system.

Skipper recalls, “credativ provided a very focused development resource, and were capable of providing solutions to the complexities that were uncovered through the process. The Made.com ERP development project is a very good example of how using a modular and flexible core system can provide a comparatively fast turnaround for a large and complex system. credativ offered very impressive technical ability and project management to enable the project to be completed to our requirements and budget. We plan on using them for further open source projects in the future.”  

Future Plans

credativ are now working on the reporting capability of OpenERP to improve usability for non-technical users. Made.com may potentially move all of their product database to OpenERP, in order to remove the use of static files in that part of the company. credativ are now also creating modules to integrate OpenERP with Metapak and Asterisk.

Contact us for more information on how an open source ERP system could benefit your business.

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