Julie McGraw

Benefits at every point

Benefits at every point

Operational efficiency for Jones and Co has improved ‘beyond belief’ since they started working with Reflex Data in 2013. Based in Nottingham and supplying soft furnishings, buttons and crafts, Jones deals with more than 220,000 different product lines, and says that the level of inventory control Mertex provides is crucial to growth. Managing director Julie McGraw, pictured, says: “Mertex has given us the opportunity to drive the business forward. The system has improved efficiencies and provides the information required to make informed decisions.”

“Reflex Data is committed to problem solving and their flexible approach to modifications is quite unique”, says Julie McGraw. Using Mertex is a new reason why this long-established Nottingham firm is right on the button. Making buttons for women’s clothing is how the business started back in 1909 and this trade was what the company was all about for more than half a century. Then came a period of steady diversification, into soft furnishings and crafts, that eventually led Jones to approach Reflex Data in 2013 with a clear idea of what they were looking for in an inventory control system. With the company dispatching 61,500 orders in 2015 across 223,036 different lines, it was a key requirement.

“We wanted a system that could equally control our linear and non-linear goods with an integrated B2B platform,” says Julie McGraw. “We provided quite a challenge, as we operate across three divisions supplying different markets through 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. The partnership with Reflex Data, Julie says, has improved operational efficiency ‘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 inventory and stock control and provides 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 data input facilities 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. “Fabrics and trimmings are dispatched alongside unit goods efficiently with no need to change the procedure.”

Best of all, Julie says, the set-up of the online ordering platform has allowed growth without adding additional costs. Jones & Co is also impressed with the insight into operational, sales and financial performance the Reflex analytics module provides. “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,” explains Julie.

“It allows us 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 profitability.”