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An Online Innovator

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Photos by Manuel F. Sousa

In the 41 years Carolyn Porhownik and her family have owned Garson Grocery in Garson, Manitoba, she has placed her fair share of orders, most by phone or fax.

But, when her Pratts rep came to her nearly 10 years ago and said she could begin placing orders online, she signed up and never looked back. “Why not? It’s just so convenient,” she says.

Online ordering gives Porhownik better control over her inventory and allows her to keep up with customer requests. “If you have a hectic day and don’t get to it, you can go on in the evening or early morning,” Porhownik notes. This way she never misses deadline day, and can log in to her account to track what she ordered and when it should arrive. With instant access to her ordering history and status, she’s only ever one click away from the information she needs to avoid out-of-stocks.

Porhownik does one main online order per week, which she says shaves at least an hour off the older method of ordering. Sometimes the time saved can double. “It might be an hour and a half or two hours because before we would be going around and manually entering [the numbers], and then you run into all sorts of things, like reading a number wrong and then having to straighten that out,” she says.

For this retailer, accuracy is key. “It’s really helpful because it points out errors right away. If you had an error before, you might not know until your order arrives and you didn’t receive something that you really needed,” says Porhownik. With online ordering, errors like these are flagged right away, so you can investigate before any money is spent or time is wasted on an incorrect SKU.

For many retailers, the biggest stumbling block is learning how to use the new technology. But as Porhownik will tell you, “It’s not difficult, and I have staff who do some of the ordering for me. Basically, if you can work your way through a television remote these days, you can work your way through this.”