Building an automation mindset for a small but mighty team using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 

  The Missing Link's work with SouthTrade included multiple RPA solutions.

SouthTrade is a leading liquor distributor owned by global market leader, Sazerac. For the team at SouthTrade, a reliable supply chain function isn’t a ‘nice to have’ – it is critical to their business viability. As their business grows, they are evolving to ensure supply chain systems are streamlined, secure, integrated and do not rely on humans to do the data processing. 

Deepal Manchanayaka, Supply Chain Lead at SouthTrade, explains, “We’re measured on the service levels we deliver to our key customers, including Coles, Woolworths, and Dan Murphy’s. Mistakes that impact service delivery would also impact revenue and cause customer dissatisfaction – no one wants to see empty shelves.” 

Building an aerodynamic purchase order process

Creating efficiency and boosting reliability have always been top priorities and transferring purchase orders from SouthTrade’s legacy system to supplier, Sazerac, was a key friction point that needed addressing. It was a daily task which took a long time and left records plagued with duplication and errors needing manual correction. 

The Missing Link was the automation provider selected for the project. We had already proven our capacity for service delivery and understanding of SouthTrade’s business through our infrastructure services since 2018. 

To kick off the project, we defined their existing data format and recipient system requirements, enabling the direct transfer of purchase orders between systems using RPA, effectively delivering the functionality and benefits of electronic data interchange (EDI) software in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Implementation of the changes successfully eliminated the manual effort required for SouthTrade and Sazerac to submit, follow up, remediate, and process orders.  

Transforming to accommodate increased demand 

The solution has made a remarkable difference, removed the risk of human error, and saved time on processing growing order volumes. 

“Instead of making calls to follow up, we now receive automated emails advising that orders have been successfully processed. That’s very reassuring from a supply chain management perspective. The time saved here has been redirected to other more complex tasks, like demand and supply forecasting,” says Deepal. 

Helping customers receive the right promotional products, sooner

After the initial successful project, SouthTrade knew automation was a mindset they wanted to adopt across the entire organisation. The next step was to optimise their product sample delivery process, where employees regularly order product samples for prospects or customers as part of SouthTrade’s promotional strategy. 

The original system for this process was not integrated with the existing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, making it difficult to process the orders. Additionally, product lists were not maintained and lived on a simple online database with some approval workflows built into it.  

The project team again started with standardising the underlying data (product lists, units of measure) and built an ordering solution in Microsoft’s Power Platform. Then, we linked it to SouthTrade’s Active Directory to ensure that the automated approval workflows followed their organisational hierarchy.   

“The Missing Link built our solution to integrate with our upgraded systems, removing the need to translate orders manually from one system to another. It has drastically reduced the risk of errors and improved turnaround time, thereby improving customer and employee experience,” explains Deepal. 

Cross-departmental impact

The new solution has achieved wide-ranging, positive results for various teams across SouthTrade. 

“I can’t overstate the improvements our teams have experienced since we completed our RPA implementation.”

“Our marketing team now has a slicker way of placing promotional orders in an intuitive application with an improved user experience. Approval workflows are streamlined, and the supply chain team has more time to spend on more valuable tasks – not to mention better data to report on at the end of each month.”

“And last but not least, our customers and prospects are receiving their promotional products sooner, improving conversion time and cementing our reputation as a supplier they can depend on for timely and accurate order fulfillment.”

Deepal Manchanayaka | Supply Chain Lead, SouthTrade

An unexpected benefit we have observed is a shortened sales cycle for new products, improving revenue once the successfully trialled products are ordered by customers.

A strong digital transformation partnership

SouthTrade have ambitious plans for their digital transformation, with a pipeline of automation projects planned. Our strong partnership and understanding of how SouthTrade’s surrounding systems are changing is a key reason these solutions are futureproof for the changing organisation. 

“The Missing Link was very approachable and responsive. I’d describe our relationship as open and transparent from the beginning, and the few challenges encountered were quickly overcome.” 

“We appreciate the project team’s willingness to challenge the way we do things. This attitude has driven improvement whilst being mindful of our culture and competing priorities. I value their approach to change management,” says Deepal. 

Reach out to The Missing Link today to engage automation experts committed to building greater efficiencies for your organisation, like our industry-leading work with SouthTrade. 


Rhiannon Kenyon