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Isochron 'VendCast' System Boosts Sales, Cuts Costs For Chicago Coca-Cola Bottling In 19-Month Field Test

Posted On: 8/25/2001

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AUSTIN, TX - Isochron Data Corp. reports that Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Chicago experienced substantial improvements in its vending operations after adopting Isochron's "VendCast" wireless Internet-based remote monitoring system at one of its sales centers.

CCBC is one of the nation's largest independent Coca-Cola bottlers, and currently runs more than 100,000 vending machines throughout Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

Led by chairman and chief executive officer Marvin Herb, who purchased the company in 1981, CCBC has undergone steady growth and has been an industry technology leader. Thus, it approached the 21st century with a renewed commitment to improve revenues, profit margins and customer service.

Specific areas for improvement were identified as route efficiency and customer service. The company sought to increase the number of cases delivered per driver per day, and to increase the average fill rate (the amount of product placed in each machine as a percentage of total machine capacity.) CCBC also strove to reduce out-of-stock and out-of-order conditions, which it identified as an important contributor to client "churn" and patron dissatisfaction.

Recognizing remote machine monitoring as a potential method of realizing both objectives, CCBC investigated the available options and chose Isochron's "VendCast." This employs wireless data transmission to relay information to clients over the Internet, and is a turnkey solution including all necessary hardware and software, handheld tools, and wireless and account support required for customer implementation and life cycle management.

CCBC began deploying "VendCast" at the selected sales center in February 2000. Almost immediately, the company began to realize its objectives of improving efficiency, strengthening customer service and enhancing revenues.

Specifically, the number of cases delivered per driver has increased by 59%. Thus, "VendCast"-supported routes have nearly doubled in size, with each now averaging 238 machines rather than the previous 125. Improved dispatching efficiencies have enabled CCBC to reduce the size of its vehicle fleet, saving capital and operating expenses. CCBC marketing vice-president Ron Nota observed that the biggest expense in running vending machines is stopping the truck.

Fill rates have increased from 38% to 70%, demonstrating that service frequency is much better coordinated with machine inventory.

And this longer service cycle was attained at the same time as customer service improved. "VendCast" has enabled CCBC to achieve an 82% decrease in out-of-stock occurrences, and customer complaints have declined significantly. Sales increased by 8%, as customers more often found the beverages they wanted.

"CCBC is investing in solutions that will improve overall customer experience and reinforce our role as a leader in operational efficiency," said CCBC's Herb. "In the field trials, we have seen significant improvements in operational efficiencies and sales, and we are looking forward to achieving even greater benefits as we roll out the system in additional regions."