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Overview

In the face of rapid growth at IronmongeryDirect a new system was required with the ability to improve customer service, streamline deliveries and provide an integrated multi-channel retail platform from the customer contact centre and website through to the warehouse.

Employee efficiency has risen by 65% per employee

Improved customer service

Cost savings in terms of headcount

Easier access to information and reporting

Objective 

In the face of rapid growth at IronmongeryDirect a new system was required with the ability to improve customer service, streamline deliveries and provide an integrated multi-channel retail platform from the customer contact centre and website through to the warehouse.

Solution

SAP Business One + Accellos

Key wins

The system accommodates an increase in orders 
Employee efficiency has risen by 65% per employee
Improved customer service
Cost savings in terms of headcount 
Warehouse management training has improved 
Easier access to information and reporting

Organisation

IronmongeryDirect has been supplying architectural ironmongery to tradesmen for over 40 years, having started out as a traditional hardware shop in Leigh-on-Sea. Today they fulfil thousands of orders every week, all over the UK. They have the UK’s biggest range of quality products in stock for next day delivery as standard, and customers can browse over 14,500 products in the catalogue, online and via the new app. Orders can be placed as late as 8pm for fast next working day delivery, plus all ironmongery products are covered by a minimum five year guarantee. In case customers are not 100% satisfied with their product, the company also offers a free of charge returns service.

As a rapidly developing business, IronmongeryDirect was finding its existing business management system archaic in the face of 20% annual growth. The system user interface was not particularly user-friendly or customisable, and there was an increasingly important need to integrate with warehouse management to ensure a smoother customer experience.

Several different products were considered as part of the selection process, including Microsoft Dynamics AX software, SAP Business One and Exact Abacus 3EX.NET. Each system was scored based on a series of functional requirements, and SAP Business One was selected after scoring the highest on 15 out of 17 areas, including purchasing, stock control and the usability of the software platform itself.

IronmongeryDirect’s Finance Director, Paul Hunt, said SAP Business One was the complete solution the company was looking for, and could be customised to address specific needs including advanced inventory forecasting and phone and postcode integration.

“SAP Business One was a good fit in terms of functionality, size and features; it suited our budget but remained feature rich. We have also made a lot of modifications, for example we had a bespoke screen created for our contact centre agents, meaning they now have all customer information easily accessible when customers call. Not only does this save time, but it results in a superior customer experience,” he said.With a company focus on fast, effective delivery, it was equally important to integrate the system with warehouse management software.

“We deliver over 98.5% of orders on time and in full each day. The Warehouse Management System allows our staff to easily locate items for shipping, while the barcode scanning module reduces the amount of mistakes. We then utilise SAP and Valogix to manage stock availability and Metapack to select the best carrier for the products. By capitalising on these features and tools we have increased employee effectiveness, even with an 80% growth in output. We have also integrated the system with our e-commerce site, so data surrounding item information, vouchers and stock levels is reflected on the website to ensure greater accuracy,” Paul said.

The new system went live in 2011 after an extensive 18 month process, during which the team took the opportunity to critically review each of their existing processes and how procedures could be improved within the new system.

Benefits of SAP Business One

  • With orders steadily on the rise each month, and over 20% annual growth, SAP Business One is sophisticated enough to support company growth in ways their previous software was limited
  • The system has easily accommodated an increase in orders, from 3,000 to 5,500 per week since implementationEmployee efficiency has risen by 65% per employee
  •  Improved customer service as a result of integration with the website and customer contact centre
  • Cost savings in terms of headcount in the distribution centre
  • Warehouse management training has improved. The scanning system is particularly easy to demonstrate and utilise – temporary employees can now be trained in as little as 15 minutes
  • Easier access to information and reporting, which is especially useful for the marketing team

Sapphire was identified as a preferred supplier for SAP Business One after IronmongeryDirect conducted an open review of the market. Other suppliers were also considered, but the company felt they had already established a strong relationship with the Sapphire team, who had developed a thorough understanding of their specific business needs.

“I would recommend the people we have dealt with at Sapphire as they genuinely do have our best interests at heart and work with us to resolve problems. I am impressed with the high technical understanding and ability of the staff, and the company is a suitable size, so you know they’ll be around for the long haul,” said Paul.

The IronmongeryDirect team now have plans to upgrade to Version 9 of SAP Business One, and Paul had some advice to offer other companies considering a system update:

“We were lucky because we had a Project Manager and an IT team who carefully evaluated what was actually required, and engaged all teams in the specification and requirements process. This really helped to leverage the full capability of the solution for the whole of the business rather than just individual departments,” he concluded.

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