Listen to Customers – Descartes Systems Group

By: Quick Take on What Drives Success
June 2004 Product

Founded in 1981, this public company achieved $62 million in revenue in 2003 and has over 2500 customers in 60 countries. Recently, their growth has stalled in parallel with the tech downturn. However, as the RFID market and supporting solutions grows, their potential should change.

The Descartes solution tracks the status of inventory in transit. By capturing state data on physical goods, retailers can match the information flow to the physical flow throughout the supply chain. They also provide a route optimization algorithm for logistics.

Companies managing Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) seek their solution to reduce costs. For instance, a typical client of Descartes was able to reduce 1 day out of inventory representing huge savings in distribution. Best Buy uses the Descartes solution to manage the shipment of inventory between their distribution center and retail stores, as well as the flow of goods between retail stores and home delivery.

To drive success, Descartes is looking to their customers according to Theresa Rivas, Analyst Relations Manager. A steering committee that includes customer users meets every other week for an hour and a half. Semiannually, they host another customer forum that includes polls and surveys. This information is then fed back to the product manager charged with guiding the future solution development.

While customer meetings and surveys provide a formal mechanism to understand customer needs, Descartes relies on its salespeople as an informal information source. Salespeople at the company’s front line uncover the message that resonates with, the features desired by, and the pain points of their prospects. This and other information is used to create an internal synthesis of market demands.