Crossing New Bounds in Automation - Marlabs

Crossing New Bounds in Automation

How Marlabs helped an organic co-op to overcome manual dependencies and errors

The push towards organic food has been increasing at a high rate: According to the reports published by the Organic Trade Association, the U.S. customers spent a total of $61.9 billion in 2020 on organic food and non-food items. In the year next, the number witnessed a growth of 13% – as people are more careful about what they eat, and opt for organic variants as much as possible, and the chances of our client being involved in growing those organic produce are very high. They serve KeHE, UNFI, and Amazon with high-quality, competitively priced organic choices that are both environmentally friendly and socially responsible. They also supply produce under in-house brands in retail chains and markets.

The legacy affliction

Our client has a rich legacy in helping farmers turn to organic growth practices, but it was their issues in processing claims that hindered their growth. All of them were manually done, and the deductions were routed to the appropriate queue for electronic processing based on the file format. Apart from the variations in the file formats, the reasons for claims could be varied too. Any incident during merchandise delivery or reception, erroneous invoicing, or order placement due to formatting discrepancies could cause an issue and hold the system. Often, claims were placed due to divergences in promotional agreements. Managing volume discounts and promotional offers at point-of-sale units announced by sellers was a tedious task for our client.

The bulk orders placed by the three leading sellers usually kickstarted a manic process every time any discounts or offers were announced. Our client’s staff identified these offers manually, as the CRM system adopted by them was not being used regularly. Sometimes discounts were reflected multiple times on the system, or the same number was represented with multiple intentions. The mistakes were causing our client plenty of person-hours to handle, and they needed a permanent solution.

Automating A Fresh Start

Our client was aware of the need to digitally transform its claims and deductions process – and they approached Marlabs to streamline and automate their offerings in those fields. After initial discussions with the team, Esker’s Cloud-based Claims and Deduction Automation solution was decided on. The new claims process utilized Esker’s Accounts Receivable on Demand (ARoD) platform for sorting and processing of claims and deductions.

Marlabs handled the RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to streamline the Esker project execution. As Esker was unable to automate receipts and claims that were shared in multiple formats like .pdf, .cvs, etc., Marlabs executed the input part to the Esker systems based on files shared and standardized them. The deductions and remittance operations of three main vendors – Amazon, KeHE, and UNFI – were automated. UiPath was used on a daily basis for Amazon and KeHE and a weekly basis for UNFI, to scrouge through partner portals and create the file to be read by Esker. The inputs are used to validate claims and offers. As part of providing an efficient solution, Marlabs executed multiple impactful initiatives. The BAE dashboard provided them with the right amount of information which helped our client take quick decisions.

Adding The Extra Spice

The Claims and Deductions solution has helped them efficiently manage all the essential phases of the process with Data Verification, Approval Workflow, and ERP Integration. The RPA workflow logs into individual customer portals, downloads the files, and then creates an Esker-processable format. Marlabs added quite a few out-of-scope value-adds too, which streamlined the process better – like validating downloaded files and extracting info from accounts about input/ACH/remittances to facilitate smoother Automation, among others.

The results are extremely positive – The team has reduced their manual effort by 70-80% during these time-consuming processes and reduced manual errors and duplication of information. Resource misallocation came down drastically, and our clients’ teams can now handle higher volumes during peak seasons, without spending as much effort as they did before.

Applications Used in Organic Automation

Esker Platform for Claim and Deductions was the choice of platform, and the client was interested when Marlabs presented it among the possible solutions. After talks, Esker implemented the project with Marlabs’ assistance in automating the remittance and deduction forms. While the front end of the problem was handled by Esker, Marlabs ensured the backend ran smoothly to ensure valid inputs were sent to the Esker tool being used. This was achieved by the use of an RPA tool – UiPath, which logs into the customer portals and puts them into a file that Esker can process. The UiPath RPA tool is designed to run at a particular time based on the customer (daily for Amazon and weekly for UNFI, in this case), The details were displayed on a dashboard that simplified understanding for the team.

Greener Grass on Both Sides

The teams involved were able to use their extensive knowledge to standardize file formats and learned a lot about supply-chain in return. The additional tools like the dashboard that Marlabs built were greatly appreciated. With its newfound agility in handling large offers and discounts, our client is on its way to consolidating its position as one of the leading suppliers of organic herbs and spices in the USA and Canada. Their increased focus on promoting sustainable farming and production practices among farm producers ensures fresh produce of the highest quality and purity is available to the end customer, as soon as possible.

Marlabs LLC

About Marlabs LLC

Marlabs helps leading companies around the world make operations sleeker, keep customers closer, transform data into decisions, de-risk cyberspace, boost legacy systems, and capture novel opportunities and digital-led revenues. It provides digital-first strategy and advisory services, rapid solution incubation and prototyping, and agile digital solution engineering. Marlabs is headquartered in New Jersey, with offices in the US, Germany, and India. Its 2,500+ global workforce includes highly experienced technology, platform, and industry specialists from the world’s leading technical universities.

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