Macmillan Distribution (MDL) launched MDLConnect, a web-based platform allowing their client publishers to use a self-service ordering model. Hundreds of users from over 40 publishers, including internal and external sales representatives, will use MDLConnect, and benefit from faster order turnround and improved order visibility.

MDL recognised that customer and publisher expectations were changing, and that demand for a robust and complete online service increasing. The platform interfaces with MDL's internal systems, most notably Vista, and once an order is placed through the site is automatically processed and passed to their 340k sq ft Swansea warehouse for distribution.

As no off-the-shelf solution was available, MDL partnered with Line. We worked closely with MDL from the start helping to define requirements, identify risks and wireframe solutions. We developed the solution on our full-stack Sitesuma Framework and continued to support MDL through testing, and now release.

An agile prototyping phase factored in numerous iterations, followed by in-depth reviews and user acceptance testing (UAT) phases. These often led to refinements in the specification and re-test cycles.

As part of the solution we delivered a suite of administrative tools giving MDL control over user accounts and permissions, along with sophisticated logging of order history and status.

MDLConnect - Screen 2

"With competition among publishers as strong as ever, we needed to help differentiate. The speed and accuracy with which MDLConnect enables us to service orders, not previously eligible for more traditional EDI will, we believe, gives our distributed publishers such advantage."

Matthew Hogg, Director of Publisher & Customer Services, Macmillan Distribution

After a year in development, the initial release provides users with a secure channel to search products (MDL house over 65,000 active titles) and an efficient route for placing both trade and gratis orders for distribution to retailers, reviewers, and other customers.

The platform is intuitive to use whilst providing users with the ability to override a wide range of settings such as discount, title status, despatch method and market restrictions. This allows users to place orders varying in complexity from a single gratis copy being sent for review, to 100's of different products being sent to a retailer overseas. Data is kept in sync with MDL's internal systems with updates throughout the day.

In addition, users placing orders via MDLConnect will benefit from near real-time status updates. The platform is expected to reduce manual order processing and as a result speed up overall order lead times, providing significant support to the sales process. MDLConnect is a further opportunity for MDL to improve the way in which it works collectively with it’s client publishers to deliver excellence in service to the customer.

MDL have an ambitious roadmap for the platform, and we will continue to work with them offering both ongoing support and development of new features.

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MDLConnect - Screen 3

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