Automation to Support the Visually Challenged: The Story of IAB
Welcome back to our series of Impact Stories, where we introduce organizations that serve their communities - and the world - for the better. The common thread in this series is the power of automation, and how it can help organizations achieve their goals in a fast, efficient manner.
If you just reached for your glasses to read this article or popped in your contact lenses in front of the mirror this morning, then you’re one of about 2.2 billion people in the world with some form of visual impairment, according to the World Health Organization.
And in India, a recent government study estimates the prevalence of visual impairment among the total population to be about 2.5% or about 35 million people.
Unfortunately, visual impairments are often connected to factors like illiteracy, rural life, and barriers to accessing adequate health and eye care.
The Indian Association for the Blind has provided support for visually challenged people since 1985, promoting confidence and opportunities through a series of education, training, and employment programs.
Since its inception, the IAB has supported more than 30,000 people with education and rehabilitation, enabling them to lead successful, productive, independent lives.
One of the IAB’s most successful programs is Thank U Foods, a livelihood initiative that sells fresh food products in retail outlets, online, and in select corporate cafeterias and pop-up stalls. All of these points of sale are run by visually challenged staff, for whom it's often difficult to find employment and support families.
As Thank U Foods expanded, it began to rely on more and more apps to achieve its goals, like Shopify, Zoho CRM, MySQL, and Bubble to gain customers, fill orders, and run retail operations.
With so much data contained among a growing number of apps and platforms, they needed a way to unify their tools and workflows to improve efficiency across sales, ERP, and all backend operations.
For that, they turned to Make, and we’re here to share the story.
How Make integrates Thank U Food’s most important processes
By leveraging Make, the IAB has successfully integrated customer data across multiple sales channels in Shopify, custom POS, and a custom mobile app used in pop-up stalls into Zoho CRM.
This means that the customer details that get added in different sales channels are automatically added to Zoho CRM. Make not only inserts and updates data in Zoho CRM but also does so on a recurring schedule.
They’ve also integrated item master data from SAP B1 to other platforms. Item master data, the backbone of many processes, is stored in an MS SQL database as part of SAP B1. The same is synchronized with item master data of platforms like POS, Shopify, and pop-up stalls.
The achievements don’t stop here!
Shopify orders are now integrated into the organization’s own warehouse data. Now, orders received in Shopify are automatically sent to a dedicated MS SQL database for further processing, analysis, and auditing.
At the same time, Zoho Desk works in unison with the IAB’s delivery software, Shipday, to keep track of orders and deliveries.
The results of these streamlined processes are impressive, to say the least: Thank U Foods estimates about a 40% reduction in time and effort spent managing all this data.
They’re now able to promote sales through additional channels, like WhatsApp, without any human intervention, and they’re enjoying the peace of mind that comes from working on a single platform in an efficient and unified way.
What’s next for the IAB and Thank U Foods
Expansion is the main goal for IAB, with an aim to establish 15 retail stores that will employ a growing number of visually challenged staff. They also hope to increase their revenue by 30% across a variety of sales channels.
The IAB and Thank U Foods remain dedicated to innovation, looking to develop no-code solutions for their POS systems, and finding ways to automate new sales channels going forward.
Their modus operandi has always been “redefining abilities, rescripting lives,” and, with their newly automated and enhanced processes, they’ll be able to make an even greater impact on the lives of the visually challenged across India.