Info-tech

From printer to your porch

L. N. Revathy | Updated on July 17, 2011

Delivered, at doorstep: Kumaresh keys in newspaper supply details into the logsheet. - Photo: M. Periyasamy   -  Business Line

Newspaper agent taps technology for daily paper distribution.



As we grab our cup of morning coffee in one hand, and reach out for the newspaper with the other, little do we think about the daily delivery battle that newspaper agents wage.

The newspaper delivery boys, who deftly throw the daily edition on our doorstep from their cycles, are not always reliable. The agent needs to be sharp on the job to ensure that they do their rounds correctly and keep subscribers happy.

For Kathiravan, a newspaper agent based in Coimbatore, the going seemed good till he took ill and was laid up for months. He was left with no option but to rely on the delivery boys to raise the bills on their rounds and collect payments too. (His son Kumaresh was away abroad, pursuing higher studies.) A little while later, Kathiravan decided to appoint his delivery boys as sub-agents too, in their respective areas, albeit for a commission.

Kumaresh, meanwhile, after doing his Masters in Management and Advertising, returned to take care of his father's business.

Looking around for some way to automate the distribution business, he looked up the tool used by another news agent in Coimbatore, which was featured earlier in eWorld (see link >https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-eworld/article1026960.ece). He went in for a computer and sought the help of his friend to automate the entire process of the agency business.

“I assigned the job to Infosoft Technology. While they worked on the process using .Net and SQL, and helped codify the data, I prepared the format of the various forms/reports that we will have to submit to the different publications, on whose behalf we distribute the daily newspaper, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and annual magazines. This took a little over three months. Meanwhile, we got the ISO 9001 quality certification for our (Kathiravan) agency,” adds Kumaresh, sharing the various reports that he is able to generate today, after the implementation of this tool.

Mouse-friendly biz

Watching his son explain the ins and outs of the agency business, Kathiravan recalls the difficulties he encountered in the early days of the business, adding, “It was not easy to prepare the bill month after month, prepare the list of undistributed copies and tally the collections.” Kumaresh too remembers his father losing out on sleep and rising very early every morning , in order to streamline the supplies before the day's action began.

Now, at the click of the mouse, Kumaresh is able to generate as many as 108 reports, including supply reports (supply point-wise, hawker and retailer-wise), despatch and supplier timing, stock, payment, outstanding amount, and so on.

“It is more in the nature of an ERP (enterprise resource planning)solution,” he adds. Kumaresh hopes to hook up this solution to the hand-held device that the sub-agents carry, so when they make the collection and issue the receipt to the subscriber, the details are immediately registered online.

“We are also trying to facilitate online payment. There is a lot more we can do,” says Kumaresh.

> lnr@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 17, 2011

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