Aleyant Pressero & eDocBuilder Helped Save Time, Increase Accuracy, and Deliver an Exceptional User Experience for Gift Purchasers and Gift Recipients
Choose Your Gift was founded in 1958 by the Bennett brothers and is a third-generation family-owned business, currently operated by George Bennett. The company works with corporations and organizations to deliver a seamless process for employee recognition and customer loyalty.
When it was founded, purchasers could choose from an array of gift options displayed in a hard-cover catalog. Early in the process, several large employers came to the company with a request for some type of program where they could recognize 100 or more employees, but at different levels. According to Mark Arvia, the company’s CFO, “That’s how Choose Your Gift came about. Obviously, with the age of the internet, the program has evolved into a more streamlined operation; but the basic concept remains the same. It’s just easier for both the purchaser and the recipient to use.”
Today, Choose Your Gift is completely cloud-based, a dynamic system where its content management is updated daily with 40,000 items from more than 250 vendors and at 20 different gift levels. “It sounds complicated,” Arvia noted, “but it is not at all complicated for the purchasers and recipients. Gift levels range from $25 to $5,000. The program administrator might have 500 individuals they want to recognize at five different levels, and Choose Your Gift takes care of it.”
In 2019, Arvia was tasked with modernizing the system, and he spoke with his Canon Solutions America representative to see if they had any ideas about how to take the offering from a paper-based catalog to a cloud-based system. “At the time,” he says, “Canon Solutions America took care of our office printers, including copying, faxing, and other functions that are no longer a central focus today. That’s when I first learned about Aleyant Pressero and eDocBuilder. I was impressed with what I saw and initiated a partnership with Aleyant’s professional services folks in Spain to create the API I needed to put a fully integrated system in place.”
Choose Your Gift is hosted by American Eagle, which manages the website and databases, including the 40,000 daily gift uploads (based on current availability of each item), gift levels, and recipient data, as well as a broad array of templated certificates for communicating with recipients. Each certificate has a unique PIN to enable redemption of the gift. American Eagle processes the request, manages the orders from recipients, and provides tracking information to the purchasers for each transaction. American Eagle’s system also manages which vendors are most appropriate for the fulfillment of each gift item, requesting notification that the vendor has received the order as well as when the order is shipped.
“Back in the day,” Arvia explains, “we did the fulfillment ourselves. We used to have five floors of inventory, thousands of items, and we were tracking everything. We printed the gift notifications and fulfilled the orders as they came in, as well as keeping the recipients informed of redemptions, etc. It was quite an operation and employed a large number of people. Today, with our cloud-based system, we operate with 25 employees and minimal office space. Aleyant Pressero and eDocBuilder were key to our ability to achieve this transformation.”
Prior to implementing Pressero, purchasers would choose templates, gift levels, and whether notifications would be printed or delivered electronically. This resulted in generating a Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet that was the basis for the American Eagle actions. Certificate templates were preprinted, and then over-printed with the variable data once orders were received. Sometimes certificates would also show items, but if an item was out of stock or discontinued, that created an issue. Now with the on-demand system, Arvia says, “we don’t waste a single sheet if we are printing, and we have the ability to make changes even at the last minute.”
Arvia explains that separate servers host certificates and PINs, adding, “The minute we get an order for 50 certificates at, for example, the $100 gift level, American Eagle is notified of the recipient names and redemption PINs. That information is then pushed to Pressero and eDocBuilder for creation of the actual certificates, either electronically or in print. If the purchaser requests printed certificates, we have partnered with a local printer, MidAmerican Printing Systems, to produce and fulfill those. Otherwise, the electronic certificates are sent to recipients in accordance with the dates requested by the purchaser.
“With eDocBuilder, each certificate is created individually, usually with a logo and a choice of colors, first and last name of the recipient, mailing address if the certificate is to be mailed directly to the recipient, and a message, such as Happy Birthday, Happy Holidays, or Congratulations,” Arvia says. “There is an endless number of templates that can be loaded into eDocBuilder, a very tailored and extremely automated process. I like to say that we combine all the ingredients, eDocBuilder generates each file, and Pressero ‘bakes’ the 500 or so Adobe® PDFs we need for either print or electronic distribution. These are print-ready PDFs that make it easy for MidAmerican to produce the required certificates. We can also easily make last-minute changes to the PDFs if the purchaser changes their mind or notes an error in messaging or other data.”
In the past, Arvia notes, generating the PDFs was not that easy, and it was time-consuming and could be error prone. Now it is all processed in the background in a matter of minutes, segmented between print and electronic distribution, and notifications go out according to the schedule set by the purchaser.
“COVID pretty much changed the playing field,” he adds, “with more electronic than printed distribution. But as workers return to the office, purchasers can hand off the certificates personally if they want to.
”The process is so automated, Arvia says, that basically his team is only doing exception management. For example, if the system determines that the provided logo is not the right resolution for print, it will kick that template out and staff will request the appropriate logo.
“While our system is working beautifully,” Arvia says, “we sort of feel we had to crawl before we walked and ran, so we are looking at ways to make it even better. We are working with Aleyant to make the shopping cart experience more dynamic so the customer can upload more information or put more into their order. We want to make the system even more self-service for the purchasers and recipients, and we are working with the Aleyant team to bring that to fruition.”
“Not only has Choose Your Gift been able to streamline its operations, but it has taken a lot of effort off the plate of the purchasers. Partnering with Aleyant has enabled purchasers to put the very best possible solution in front of purchasers in the most cost-effective and easy-to-use way. And if something is out of stock, it simply won’t show up when the recipients browse to choose their gifts.”
Arvia concludes, “We pride ourselves on the fact that we won’t put a gift selection out there knowing that it’s not available. If you can’t deliver within 24 to 48 hours, you’ll be out of business. If there is a delay, we are able to notify the recipient and purchaser right away, giving them other options to pursue. And if recipients do not claim their gift within a certain period of time, we can easily notify the purchasers, allowing them to either reach out to their recipients or have the certificates invalidated and credit applied to their account. It’s an amazing closed-loop transformation, and we could not have done it without the outstanding team at Aleyant.”
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