VRLink is our distributed application that has been in use since 1994. It’s a robust application with many features to assist in order writing, embroidery, customization, reporting and CRM. While most versions of VRLink look nearly identical… they all share the same set of features, every instance of VRLink has been customized to meet the needs of each client. You’d think ordering and decorating apparel would be the same for all companies, however, their back-end ERP systems, various discounts and sales programs and differing embroidery systems require each version of VRLink to be a little different. Our approach to implementation and customization is to make your efforts as simple as possible. We take all your ERP data and build interfaces to consume and process it so it works inside VRLink. Whatever data your system doesn’t maintain, but is needed for the various feature sets in VRLink, is created by various data layer applications… from external ASCII files, Excel files, database tables, or Cloud based data. We work with your IT, Sales, and management teams to identify and manage the data needed for product groupings, seasonal rules, and even differing inventory rules.
What follows is a brief presentation of the primary VRLink Interfaces:
VRLink Main Screen
The Main Screen dashboard is the starting point for VRLink. The modern versions are designed to look and function similar to Microsoft Outlook®. It gives a heads up view on various orders and their statuses. It contains four distinct areas:
- The Menu and Toolbar – The menu gives access to every feature in VRLink… the toolbar gives access to the most used features.
- TreeView – The TreeView organizes all functions in VRLink in a logical presentation. We use the TreeView during VRLink trainings, which aids the users when they are on their own.
- Order ListView – This area is used to list a variety of orders. Initially, it displays all OPEN orders. Once a customer is selected, the list shows all orders, both OPEN and CLOSED for the current customer. There are a variety of order statuses that can be displayed in this view from the TreeView.
- Current Customer and Order Panels – As the name implies, the current customer’s data is displayed in the Current Customer Panel, and a summary of the current order, when one is being worked on, is displayed in the Current Order Panel.
Each of the areas can use hyperlinks that give us the ability to offer all manner of extra functionality: Addresses can be linked to map programs; E-mail addresses can be used to auto-start a new e-mail; Order numbers can link to real-time order status; dates to calendars…
The Menus and Toolbar Buttons
Every function built into VRLink can be accessed via the traditional Window’s menus. The most-used features can be accessed via the tool bar buttons. Both these launch devices are customized for each client and can be modified or updated on the fly and distributed through our VRDist, server-side application.
There are four sets of TreeView nodes: Daily Tasks, Writing Orders, Summary of Orders, and Current Customer. The TreeView pads, at the bottom of the TreeView, can be used to filter the TreeView to a specific set of nodes. A fifth pad, called “All,” can be used to display all the nodes in the TreeView… that is the default view of the TreeView, and is what is displayed below. During training, we have the users click on each of the tabs so as to focus their attention on specific feature sets. The order in which each set is laid out, follows the method a user should employ during the order writing process.
The Order ListView
The Current Customer and Current Order Panels
VRLink is an application that contains many customizable screens. Some may be generic in nature, but because of the “hooks” we have placed into each screen, VRLink Corporation programmers are able to customize every screen on the fly. That means if a client decides some weeks or months after the program has been installed in the field, we are able to modify (customize) a screen to meet your needs and distribute those modifications through our server-side application called VRDist.
Pick A Customer Screen
Every one of our clients has different Customer data. VRLink Corporation identifies the elements of that data that are needed to be seen by the user to manage their accounts, and to properly write orders. Generic VRLink Pick and Tag screen filters and sorting features are on the Pick a Customer screen. The Sherlock interface (where the word ATLANTA has been keyed below) is used to filter the data down to a word or phrase that can be contained in any of the displayed columns.
Every client has different needs for the setup of their orders. The VRLink Header screen is fully customized. The example below shows a variety of order elements needed to begin and setup an order. Users can also ATTACH CUST SUBMITTED SMART LIST to the header as an alternate way of setting up an order and the products and quantities wanted by the customer (see Smart Lists below).
Product Selection, Quantities, and Special Customization
Size Run Screen with Product Image
The Size Run screen is the heart and sole of VRLink. It’s designed to look like a spreadsheet. Users can add and delete products from this screen. They can freely navigate around the screen to add quantities, dates, prices, discounts, embroidery specifications, custom club options (for golf clubs), to name a few of the many options that can be put on this screen. The basic rule of thumb is, any cell that contains a background color can be modified… however, in the case of sizes, the dark gray cells indicate a product is either unavailable or sold out.
Apparel products are typically embroidered. VRLink identifies which products CAN or CANNOT be embroidered, and ENABLES or DISABLES Embroidery specification cells accordingly. The Size Run screen displays a “scoreboard” of the desired specification. Once keyed, that specification can be COPIED and PASTED to other products with the same needs. VRLink will prevent a pant from receiving a specification for a shirt… since a pant doesn’t typically have a LEFT CHEST.
Tapes are organized with the Current Customer’s tapes at the top, and any GENERIC tapes at the bottom. Like all other PICK and TAG screens in VRLink, this screen contains the Sherlock (search) interface, and can be filtered and sorted.
Placement codes are filtered based on the garment type being embroidered. All the below placements are available for tops for the client this screen was customized for.
PRODUCT LISTS TO SMART LISTS
The VRLink Size Run Screen can also be used outside the order writing process to create lists of products. Users may have customers with very specific needs. So, the Product List interface can be used to generate such a list, save it by giving it a unique name, publish it, and then send the customer an e-mail link that can be used to display the list. The displayed list is called a Smart List. The customer can use it in their default browser to key in quantities, specify a PO number, requested ship date, and special instructions. Once complete, the customer submits the Smart List. The originating VRLink user receives the submitted list and attaches it to a new order on the VRLink Header screen (see above).
Selecting Products for a List
All the normal filtering and sorting features in VRLink aid the user in selecting products to be added to the Product List.
Saving a Product List
The selected products are displayed in the Size Run screen. The user can add quantities… or not. At any point in the process of list development, the user can save the list with a unique name. Products can be added or deleted from the list. Many VRLink users use this feature to create lists of featured products, and can trim the list down throughout the season.
Publishing a Product List… Making it a Smart List
Any saved list is a candidate for publishing. A list can be published as often as the user would like… with each publication overwriting the previous version of the list, as long as the list name is exactly the same, and from the same user.
Options for Sending an E-Mail Link
Each VRLink client has different parameters for displaying their Smart Lists. The list of options is totally customizable and depends on the available data from the client’s ERP system and data layers.
A New E-Mail with a Link to a Smart List
A link to the Smart List is made inside a new e-mail. The link is the name of the list. The user can add whatever text they desire to communicate to their customer.
Customers Click on the Link to Display the Smart List, Key in Quantities and “Header” information
The Smart List presentation is also totally customizable. In the case of the illustration below, the client wanted the ability to display Availability and UPC Codes. Wholesale and Closeout pricing was not selected for the link that displayed the below Smart List.
Customers Key in Quantities and “Header” information
The customer keys in quantities for desired products, and then keys in “Header” related data that can be applied to the VRLink header after the customer submits, and the VRLink user receives the submitted Smart List. Once a submitted list is attached to a new VRLink order, the user can modify the order. This is typically when embroidery is added to the embroiderable items.