An upgrade to Sage 200 combined with the adoption of Intellisell business ecommerce platform provides specialist home baking manufacturer and retailer Squires Group with a consolidated platform for international expansion.
An upgrade to Sage 200 combined with the adoption of Intellisell business ecommerce platform is providing specialist home baking manufacturer and retailer Squires Group with a consolidated platform for international expansion in an increasingly dynamic marketplace. A single source of stock information across retail and ecommerce channels and direct integration to Intellisell is improving inventory management, reducing lead times and transforming customer service. With a single ERP solution that can meet the company’s diverse business needs, from publishing to retail, manufacture to wholesale, Squires Group can exploit economies of scale and drive significant business efficiency.
Increasing numbers of UK companies are looking to exploit strong products and brand recognition by expanding globally. For home baking, cake decorating and sugarcraft specialist Squires Group, the resurgence in home baking has contributed to significant growth in recent years and the company is actively building on its strong reputation for innovation with new distributors globally, as well as a new European sales office.
Squires Group manufactures 2,000 products, selling 4,000 more to consumers via its ecommerce site which operates alongside a flagship store and baking and sugarcraft school in Farnham. The Group also has a publishing arm producing four national magazine titles and a number of high-quality specialist books a year.
International expansion, combined with an increasingly dynamic marketplace, is creating new pressures for this highly diverse business. As Tom Dutton, Operations Director at Squires Group, explains, “It is important for Squires Group to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Improvements in inventory management and supply chain control will be critical to drive down costs and provide faster product turnaround to customers.”
In addition, with the growing emphasis on international trade, Squires Group was keen to create a dedicated business-to-business ecommerce site to supplement phone, fax and email ordering to a customer service team.
Working with CPiO, Squires Group opted to upgrade an outdated implementation of Sage MMS to the latest version of Sage 200, tightly integrated with the Intellisell ecommerce solution for trade customers. Sage 200 was also integrated to the ecommerce solution used by Squires Group for its consumer sales and its retail system.
The immediate benefit was improved visibility across the 6,000 stock items. “Squires Group had one person dedicating half their time to ensuring stock data was accurate across all systems and that effort is no longer required.” Over time, the company expects to phase out up to five different versions of stock records in different systems, including spreadsheets, to create a single version of all stock information. “Creating a single source of information about products across every channel is an essential platform upon which best practice and operational improvements can be achieved,” says Tom.
The company has already gained benefits from improved order visibility and authorisation; confidence in stock deliveries and goods logging; the ability to identify discrepancies, challenge invoices and track supplier prices.
The Intellisell solution has also delivered significant benefits. Squires Group opted for an initial pilot of 100 customers. “The pilot was fantastically successful, with 75 customers logging into the new site and 50% placing an order in the first week.” Today around half of Squires Group’s customer base is now able to place orders online. “Squires Group is definitely converting trade customers from traditional methods onto the web shop,” Tom confirms.
The benefits to the customers are significant – ranging from access to outstanding orders, invoices and order history, to the ability to pay accounts online. “The whole philosophy is to make it as easy as possible for people to do business with Squires Group. Many of our customers are smaller shops and retailers in the UK who don’t have time during the day. Using Intellisell makes it easy for customers to check invoices, place orders and pay invoices at a time that suits them.”
Customers can also either place orders directly on the site or upload a spreadsheet – an approach that works well for distributors placing orders up to several hundred line items at a time. Furthermore, as a result of the direct integration with Sage 200, the online mode enables Squires Group to reduce fulfilment lead times by a day on average. Tom says, “Customers want faster delivery, especially overseas. Orders placed via Intellisell go straight through to the distribution centre via Sage 200 and can be immediately processed. This is a key element in Squires Group’s strategy to reduce lead times.”
When compared with the traditional process of taking an order manually and keying the information directly into the Sage system, the time and costs savings for Squires Group are significant. Tom estimates at least half a day per customer services staff has been released from basic admin.
Furthermore, since launching the Intellisell solution, Squires Group has noted clear changes in customer behaviour. “The website is driving customers towards a broader range of products and the average size of the order is definitely higher online than via traditional channels.”
The return on investment from Intellisell was, he says, instant. “From the basis of time saving and lead times, it easily covers its own cost and clearly has potential to generate additional revenue. The payback is immediate.”
In conjunction with the benefits gained from the adoption of Sage 200, most notably improved stock control and supply chain visibility, Squires Group is putting in place a strong infrastructure to support its international expansion strategy. “Sage 200 is a platform that can be expanded across the business to meet the vast majority of requirements, from publishing to manufacture,” says Tom. “Having CPiO as a trusted partner is incredibly important and provides Squires Group with confidence in both the quality of the technology and our ability to exploit the functionality to drive on-going business improvement.”
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