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Mark_Ricard_EMP100Sales need to be able to happen wherever business happens, Mark Ricard EMP 100 realized. He’s been reaping the rewards ever since.

When Ricard first started as Pampered Chef’s director of eCommerce, he was put in charge of a flawed, desktop-based system that served more than tens of thousands of sales consultants and their customers.

“I knew right away that we needed to provide a mobile solution for our sales consultants,” Ricard said. “Rather than having them lug around their laptops, a tablet-ready app makes it possible for them to sell wherever they go, and makes them appear more polished.”   However, a challenge for Ricard was the app had to work offline.   “Because our consultants can sometimes be in remote areas with poor internet, the app needed to take an order even without a connection.”

With this in mind, Ricard and his team spent over a year designing and creating an app that would be useful at parties or during on-the-go sales. With the new app, consultants can manage a large group on the same tool. This allows customers to add items to their cart and complete a transaction using an custom built card reader, all in one comprehensive application with no transactional fees passed on to our sales consultants.

Since launch, the app was nominated in the Chicago Technology Innovation awards and received notice from Crain’s Chicago Business. It’s also helped to increase the average sales totals at parties and has increased one-on-one orders.

“Instead of looking at what our competition was doing, we looked at what our users were doing,” Ricard said. “We asked ourselves how could we help our consultants recruit more and sell more and make the whole dang thing easier with a really cool app.”

Pampered Chef is a global multi-level marketing company that offers kitchen tools and food products for cooking at home. Founded in 1980 by Doris Christopher, Pampered Chef primarily sells their products through parties, known as cooking classes, which are thrown by individual sales consultants in a host home.

The app is fully integrated with Pampered Chef’s many backend systems, including a completely redesigned and implemented SAP hybris E-Commerce system.   All Pampered Chef sales consultants are independent business owners who focus on their customers as well as building a team of other independent sales consultants around them. The mobile app combined with the new SAP hybris E-Commerce implementation allows consultants to not only place orders for their customers or parties, but completely manage their business. This includes a host of tools, including finding and managing customer leads, basic accounting and email marketing. Having a comprehensive platform not only helps consultants sell product, but helps consultants find more consultants as well.

Following the app’s success, Ricard enrolled at Kellogg. “We’re becoming a more modern company and it’s changing the way we work,” Ricard explained. “Kellogg helps me add more value to my career. I come to class with obstacles encountered at Pampered Chef and my cohort helps me solve them.

“I’ve had so many a-ha moments, like how can we add value? How can we differentiate? Only a few months in to my Kellogg education, I’ve brought ideas from class to the boardroom.”