Founded as a partnership in 2004 before becoming a limited company in 2011,e-Hardware are architectural ironmongers based in Colchester with 2 Directors, 5 full time and 5 part time staff. They have 4500 different SKUs which are all purchased from UK wholesalers and includes things such as Locks, Latches, Hinges, Door handles and Window furniture. Orders are received through a whole range of sales channels including Trade Counter, Telephone, their Sellerdeck website, eBay, Amazon and trade customers such as Architects, Builders and Developers. In an average month they can receive anywhere between 3000 and 5000 orders across all their sales channels.
e-Hardware have been using OrderWise since November 2014. We spoke to Paul Brebner, Director of e-Hardware, who took the time to talk to us about his experiences using OrderWise and explain how it has helped revolutionise the day-to-day running of their vast operations.
Before using OrderWise, e-hardware were using a number of different systems to manage their business. Paul explained that they were using Sellerdeck for their online order processing, Seller Central for Amazon orders, My-eBay for eBay orders and Sage 50 for trade counter orders and accounts management. However because there was no functionality for stock control and all the systems were disconnected from one another, the team at e-Hardware had to rely on inaccurate stock figures and often rekeying information.
“We weren’t able to keep track of inventory because it was so difficult, we had nothing that integrated with all our sales channels so we were purchasing manually, picking manually, doing everything manually, so we wanted something that would automate a lot of our processes, take away a lot of the human element and give us more information about our stock and movement of stock”
Although all this manual entry wasn’t a problem in the early days for e-Hardware, as the business began to grow and so did the volume of sales orders being received, it became obvious the company required some form of stock management system.
“Before we had to know where stuff was on the shelves to go pick it, part pick orders and purchase for the orders we weren’t able to pick which was a real pain; it’s alright when you’re not too big as a company because you can cope with that but when you start to grow you start to think I’ve either got to employ a lot more staff to cope with the volumes or try and get better systems and processes in place – that was the exact thought process that led us to look for a new system”
With e-Hardware struggling through inefficient, manual processes and becoming swamped by increasing numbers of sales orders, the search for a new software system began.
Following a number of meetings between directors and accountants, Paul began looking at possible software solutions for e-Hardware that would integrate with Sage 50 and all his sales channels. He explained that he had received an email from OrderWise the previous week so that was his starting point, however after looking round the market it was clear that OrderWise was the only solution for them.
“I didn’t really know of any other systems out there that were the same as OrderWise, we had a little look round but we couldn’t find anything that would really suit us – the fact they integrated with Sage 50 and had integrated other clients with SellerDeck was important to us”
However it wasn’t just the simple integration with his accounts and online sales channels that appealed to Paul. He explained that after a demonstration of the Purchasing and Manufacturing modules, it was clear OrderWise would be able to greatly benefit the business.
“OrderWise allowed us to create as many suppliers for a particular item as we wanted, so if one supplier ran out, we could go to another supplier, if one supplier was charging too much we could negotiate prices with other suppliers so that was really handy – the Manufacturing module also, because we do broadpacks and make up kits using our products, we needed some sort of manufacturing and kitting process so the fact OrderWise was able to offer that was really helpful.”
Once e-Hardware had made up their mind that OrderWise was the way to go, the extensive implementation process begun. However Paul explained that e-Hardware didn’t want to just get a new software system, they wanted to completely change the way the business was organised, particularly with regards to warehouse management. With two warehouses in total, one for bulk stock and one for picking stock, the decision was made to introduce barcode scanning technology to make every day warehouse tasks as efficient as possible.
“About half way through the project we decided we wanted to go over to the handheld terminals (OrderWise Mobile Warehouse Management Devices) so that we could have barcoding. It was a lengthy process, we’ve got 4500 SKUs and 6000 bin locations that we had to label up but it wasn’t just implementing OrderWise but at the same time adjusting the logistics of the company to suit OrderWise so we could make the most of it – the assistance throughout was excellent, the project team were really helpful and support were always there if we needed it”
Once everything was in place, e-Hardware finally went live with OrderWise on the 14th November 2014 having received a successful implementation.
The OrderWise Solution
One of the main reasons for e-Hardware introducing OrderWise was they wanted one integrated system that would remove the manual entry that they relied on previously. Having now used OrderWise for a number of months, Paul told us that OrderWise has not only helped his role within the company but also completely streamlined their daily processes.
“It’s freed up myself and Nigel, the two directors in the company, before we were working too much in the company rather than on the company; we were helping with picking, packing, despatching, purchasing, whereas now because the system is so automated, it’s allowed us to get on with working and building the company whilst our staff run the day-to-day tasks – it’s been excellent”
e-Hardware also made the decision to introduce barcode scanning technology into their warehouse with the hope that this would improve the accuracy and efficiency of despatch and goods in activities. Paul explained how having OrderWise Mobile Warehouse Management Devices has increased the productivity of his warehouse way beyond what he expected to achieve.
“Monday’s usually our busiest day, we can pick anything between 200-300 orders on a Monday. Before we had to pick those manually and one order at a time, so you could end up walking all the way down aisle 1, then go down aisle 2, then go back down aisle 1 again. Now, to pick a whole trolley of totes which is 24 orders we only have to go round the warehouse once – it’s made a massive amount difference, I can get one person picking 200 orders a day now without breaking a sweat!”
By removing manual processes and the need to rekey information, e-Hardware now also have a greater awareness of their stock which has led to picking accuracy increasing substantially as a result.
“Picking errors have stopped and we now know where all the products are as well – I can’t sing its praises enough to be honest, having OrderWise has transformed our company so far”
So with Paul and his team at e-Hardware able to dramatically streamline their daily operations, remove all manual processes, save time across the business and stop errors occurring with greater accuracy and efficiency all round, the big question is what’s next for e-Hardware and OrderWise?
“We’re going to grow our product base to give our customers a wider choice so we will be able to appeal to a wider variety of people and businesses, so that and more marketing will help drive more sales – prior to OrderWise we wouldn’t have been able to cope with that whereas now I think we can comfortably cope with 100% growth with the staff that we’ve got already”
For more information on e-Hardware, you can visit their website www.e-hardware.co.uk
You can also view their selection of traditional and contemporary Door Handles HERE