When Jones & Co of Nottingham first approached Reflex Data in 2011 they had a clear idea of what they were looking for in stock control software for their range of soft furnishings.
With the company despatching 61,500 orders in 2015 across 223,036 different lines, choosing the right IT partner and system was crucial to the smooth running and growth of the business.
"We wanted a system that could equally control our linear and non-linear goods with an integrated B2B web platform," says managing director Julie McGraw. "We provided quite a challenge, as we operate across three divisions, supplying different markets with different distribution methods."
The company's wish list also included a customer service module, easy conversion from the existing system, the ability to integrate with several carriers and couriers, support for business intelligence software and the ability to process components.
Jones & Co was immediately impressed by the in-depth expertise of Reflex's knowledgeable and approachable team, born of 30 years' experience in the business.
"They're committed to problem solving and their flexible approach to modifications is quite unique," says Julie. "I can pick up the phone and someone will always come back to me with a solution."
The partnership with Reflex Data, she says, has improved Jones & Co's operational effciency 'beyond belief', with the key being the greater control Mertex provides.
"Mertex has given us the opportunity to drive the business forward. The system has improved efficiencies in stock and process control, allowing us tighter controls over stock levels and providing the information required to make informed decisions."
Automated ordering, with system alerts, also enables staff to respond rapidly to increased demand and reduce product ordering time, while transfer data import and multiple code creation options have reduced product set-up times.
Benefits of the system are being felt at every point of the supply chain.
"The easily audited delivery-to invoice path ensures full visibility of order status at any time. We've got detailed shipping module records and container details to ensure smooth transfer from sea to warehouse and provide our sales team with information on impending deliveries."
Meanwhile, the sales office saves time implementing product lists; errors are reduced by saving default customer delivery addresses, and sales quotations can be placed, emailed and converted very effciently.
"Mertex is ideal for our diverse range of products, and provides a great solution to linear and non-linear goods," says Julie. "Fabrics and trimmings are despatched alongside unit goods efficiently with no need to change the procedure. Dye lots can be recorded for batch control of linear goods and a sampling module is provided."
Best of all, she says, the set-up of the online ordering platform has allowed growth without adding additional costs and customers are very happy with the 24/7 access it provides.
After the success of the Mertex implementation, Jones & Co was keen to add the Reflex analytics module to make the most of the system.
"The insight into operational, sales and financial performance has been very powerful," explains Julie. "The dashboard provides data in an easy- to-understand visual form that can be readily manipulated, allowing us to control costs and improve decision making.
"Since using analytics for stock control, we have been able to spot trends readily to ensure that we have enough stock to meet demand, avoiding lost sales during busy periods and expensive back orders.
Overall, she says, the combination of Mertex and analytics has played a big part in driving growth within the business, without an associated increase in overheads.
"We've been able to make better informed decisions that have contributed towards top line growth and effective cost control, ultimately improving pro tability."
Jones & Co started out in 1909 supplying buttons and diversified into soft furnishings in the 1990s.
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