Australian Electric Supply (OZES) is a young business that supplies and distributes electrical equipment throughout Australia. In addition to selling brand new equipment, OZES has casual employees known as associate brokers that buy and sell second hand electrical equipment. They do this trading through online retail and auction portals such as eBay and Gumtree, and part of the brokers job is to choose the best portal for an item, the listing price and reserve in negotiation with the customer and the length of time the item would be listed for. They list the items for sale under OZES but they earn income by taking 20%-40% of the sales profit as a commission depending on the sales price. Before an item is put up for sale the item is delivered to OZES by the broker for quality control and then OZES will post to the purchaser once sold.
Currently OZES has few brokers who each store their own record of sales in their own way. Some brokers use spreadsheets, some a database and others keep paper records. Each broker considers different data to be worth saving. The brokers have seen this data as an important asset which belongs to them and gives them a competitive advantage. OZES records the details of brokers including their bank account details so that the proceeds can be deposited to the accounts. This account information can change from time to time.
OZES finds value in this type of business and are planning to hire new full-time brokers on a base salary plus 2.5% of the sales profit of sold items. However, OZES has become concerned that it is not gaining a benefit from the data generated from each sale and are beginning to recognize that the ability to aggregate and analyse all the item data would add value given its rapid growth. The existing associate brokers are concerned about this idea as they see how they use their data as driving the commission they earn.
OZES gets its business for second hand equipment in one of several ways: Customers respond to advertisements placed by brokers in specialist magazines and websites (that includes the associated broker’s ID) or customers contact OZES because of recommendations from past customers. OZES wants this information stored as part of the customer detail. When customers initially contact OZES, they are asked to complete a questionnaire detailing their name, address, email and phone contact details. They also need to state the broker’s ID or the referrer’s name. Items can be purchased in joint names.
Once the items have been deposited at OZES, they are checked, logged and placed in OZES’s secure storage. The storage area is looked after by two staff and once an item is sold and paid for they pack and send the item. It is very important that the items are tracked accurately once they have been received and that the customer details are clearly associated with the sold item. Currently, associate brokers come out to the counter to drop off items or negotiate about their commission. This means that a broker is interrupted many times a day to go to the counter, although multiple items from one or multiple original owners may be included in one listing. The full details of original owners of equipment including their name, address, email and phone contact number are kept by the brokers. OZES is also interested in accessing and recoding these details against each item received.
Once an item is sold an email report is sent to the broker associated with the item including details of the sale price and the commission. Once the item is paid for another email is sent to the broker to inform them. The buyer pays the purchase price for the item into a trust account run by OZES. Three working days after the item was paid for by the buyer, proceeds of the sale are paid to the broker. The trust account must be able to be balanced at any time. OZES wants to retain for each sale, the broker, item number, original owner and purchaser details, and the sale amount.
In your role as a Business Analyst you have been approached by the owner of OZES for guidance on evaluating and selecting a suitable information system solution for their business.
OZES wants to receive a standard sales report on volume of sales and commissions earnt at the end of every month and be able to run this report for custom dates and for individual customers and brokers. They also want to include a provision for brokers to run monthly sales reports.
A JAD session with key stakeholders revealed the following information to take OZES to a bigger level. The business processes described below are the system requirements for this information system solution:
• A sale item system which will gather all the data from the sales items, this data would then be used by all brokers to assist in negotiations with sellers. OZES wants brokers to gauge if data elements such as a type of item description or included postage would attract higher selling prices.
• A customer relationship management system which would allow OZES to offer selling offers to customers such as lower commission. OZES would also like to be able to track high value customers.
• The warehouse staff will now receive items for sale, with the brokers ringing the customer later to discuss the sale requirements. For returning original owners, OZES would like them to be able to complete a form which could be attached to the items with the receiving person just quickly checking. The idea is that this will decrease the time taken to drop off items.
• Each of the several types of items will require different attributes to be listed, you may look at online auction sites to gain those attributes.