The CF-C1 Is the Ideal Traveling Companion for Samsonite Sales Teams   

Samsonite is an American company that is renowned for its durable and robust suitcases. The company's European head office is in Oudenaarde, Belgium, and for more than a century, the brand's wide range of luggage items and accessories has been synonymous with the highest quality. Because the sales team works all over the world and Samsonite's European IT department is based in Oudenaarde, the company depends on the robustness and reliability of the Toughbook CF-C1.

Samsonite is an American company that is renowned for its durable and robust suitcases. The company's European head office is in Oudenaarde, Belgium, and for more than a century, the brand's wide range of luggage items and accessories has been synonymous with the highest quality.

In 2009, at the request of the sales representatives, the IT department launched a project to meet the company's need for automation and new hardware. At that time, the  company's laptops often proved unusable in various sales situations; battery autonomy was not up to standard, and technical defects regularly led to failures.

In 2010, Samsonite decided to adopt sales force automation software directly linked to the SAP ERP environment. All the sales representatives' laptops were also replaced with the Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1. These changes resulted in a significant increase in the productivity and efficiency of the sales department.

Automation increases productivity and efficiency

As the various countries within the Samsonite group have a great deal of local freedom,  there were a number of different systems in place within their sales organization. In order to lighten the administrative burden and increase productivity and efficiency, the decision was taken in 2010 to standardize the sales departments on an international level, with just one sales force automation application. The sales representatives were given access to a mobile tool that automatically places orders in real time via an Internet connection and also acts as a source of information, with stock levels, delivery times, product specifications and expected releases all shown in real time. The software also has a CRM section so that sales reps can offer customers a personalized approach.

No efficient software without suitable hardware

The hardware you choose is just as important as the sales tool itself — and Samsonite considered various laptops, looking at criteria such as weight, performance, operating system and connectivity. "We wanted both Windows 7 and an integrated 3G slot”, explains Dirk De Smyter, Director of Information Technology Europe at Samsonite. “Above all, the model also had to be usable in the different conditions and situations that our sales teams work in.”

"The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 emerged as the winner. “We were impressed by the durability and performance of the laptop, but it was the low weight and battery autonomy that really settled the matter for us."

Lightweight with long battery autonomy

At 1690 grams, the Toughbook weighs up to 20% less than a comparable 12.1-inch laptop — so the user can carry it around for long periods without getting tired. The integrated, ergonomic hands-free strap makes the Toughbook even more portable. In active use, the battery of a Toughbook will last for 10 hours between charges.

The Toughbook CF-C1 can also be converted from laptop to tablet. A laptop is useful for inputting data, while a tablet is the best solution for use at trade fairs or for quickly entering an order using the touch screen. The Toughbook lets the user choose for themselves what works best, depending on their personal preference and situation. “The times when our sales representatives would rather leave their laptop in the car or had to contend with flat batteries are long gone”, says De Smyter.

Chosen by the users

An unusual feature in the selection process was that the final decision on the purchasing contract was not made by the IT department at Samsonite. Instead, the company set up a core team, comprising 10 senior sales representatives from different countries, to test a range of sales force automation applications and laptops. The core sales team was able to try various models for themselves and assess them against their own criteria, needs and personal preferences. “They picked out our favourite, the Toughbook CF-C1. The low weight and battery autonomy of 10 hours was the deciding factor for our testing team too”, says Dirk De Smyter.

Rugged and reliable

All IT support is provided from the head office in Oudenaarde, but the sales team is active internationally and constantly on the move. Equipment failures are detrimental to sales activities. “The European IT department at Samsonite is located in Oudenaarde, and not all countries have a local IT administrator. As a result, the devices have to be sent  to Belgium if there is a problem. The ruggedness and reliability of our mobile computers is key to maintaining an efficient sales process”, says De Smyter.

The entire international sales team has now been using the Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 for three years. Jan Wannyn is responsible for IT support at Samsonite: “The Toughbook devices are amazingly rugged. In the three years since they were introduced, we have only had to repair one of our 82  devices, when the glass screen cracked as a result of carelessness. The Toughbook PCs are a dream come true for any support department.”

Toughbook & Samsonite: A match made in heaven

After three years' use, Samsonite is extremely satisfied with the Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1, the business rugged notebook that is robust thanks to its flexibility — just like Samsonite suitcases. “With its laptop and tablet mode, long battery autonomy and light weight, the device gives our sales teams all the support and functionality that they need in their day-to-day work”, explains Dirk De Smyter. “Each and every day, the Toughbook devices contribute to the significant increase in efficiency and productivity that we have achieved internationally since implementing the sales force automation application. The low weight, ergonomic design and multifunctional capability of the device (the ability to use it as both a tablet and a notebook) are highly valued by its users."

The future

As a result of its successes with the device, Samsonite is now investing in Toughbook computers for the future: the CF-AX2, a light and trendy flip-over Ultrabook running on Windows 8 Pro, which is stylish and light, yet sturdy — just like suitcases from Samsonite.