John Hewitt, Director of Bamford Trading: “I remember it clearly, back in 2006. It wasn’t a specific problem, more a glimpse of the future, how it would become a problem. For once I had some forethought! We had about 100 SKUs and it was already complicated. I thought ‘how are we going to keep 20,000 items when we can’t manage 100?’
“From then on it was a question of going onto Google and searching for a solution. There were two main providers back then. One was an overseas outfit and solution and they were what I would call ‘corporate’, similar to my own corporate background. The Volo solution, however, was a much more ‘down-to-earth’ solution. What stood out early was the ability to easily list different stock to different channels. You could also do the invoices automatically. It would take customer orders and post them to our accounts system through a well-designed connection. The VAT, the accounts, they were all done in the background, it saved us so much time from the word go.”
“It’s hard to quantify exactly but the system very easily saves us 3 heads in a 9-head business, so 33% of our workforce. The three main benefits of the system for me: well, I’ve touched on the time-saving aspect, that’s pretty obvious. It effectively lists across the channels we’re active in, and it takes care of pricing and auto-repricing.
“I also want to talk about bundles, where we put two or more products together. Let’s say you want a sanding machine. We’ll offer you the machine, but the Volo system also allows us to cross- promote with a bundle, so we can add 6 months’ worth of sanding belts for a couple of quid more. 50% of all our sales come from bundles; it’s that important to us. In the last 12 months alone our sales have increased 29%, which was our ninth year in business, and our eighth with Volo. You’d need an army of people to do that without this system.”
“Even though we had the opportunity to grow, we couldn’t have grown, we couldn’t have capitalised on that opportunity without Volo running the back end. The management information is really good for running the business. Sometimes a supplier will ask me to forecast the demand for certain items. Within a couple of minutes I can do this, for a supplier, down to the individual SKU.
“It’s an incredibly powerful reporting suite. All of the things I ask it would otherwise add up to a lot of people and time. It’s very fast, very detailed. It does the easy stuff like telling me who my best suppliers are, but it also tells me where the dead stock is, and that’s dead money, my money, tied up in items I haven’t sold. The other day it found stock that I’d not sold in 3 months, and I was able to put it on sale and move the items.”