Based in County Durham, Epicurium are food wholesalers and distributors, supplying mostly healthy snacks, drinks and meal solutions.
Founded in 2009, the company today employs 10 members of staff and offers around 450 different product lines, all of which are purchased from UK suppliers. Orders are then received from customers via telephone, fax, email and their ZenCart website, as well as a few via their own smartphone app.
In an average month, Epicurium will usually receive around 800 orders from their trade customers and peaking at around 2500 orders from their B2C and fulfilment customers.
Epicurium decided to implement OrderWise not too long after they founded in late 2009. To find out how OrderWise has helped the business, we spoke to Ben McKechnie, Director of Epicurium, who took the time to tell us how OrderWise has introduced fast, controlled processes into the company and, as a result, helped promote growth.
During the first six months or so of trading, Epicurium were utilising a paper based system which relied heavily on manual processes. They would firstly print orders off the website to use as their pick note, then a separate delivery note to send to the customer, transferring these order details then over to their chosen couriers and printing off labels one by one. This was not only time-consuming but also meant there was plenty of room left for errors to occur. With order volumes mounting up very quickly, Ben rightly decided to get a more automated system in place to prevent managing the business from ever becoming out of hand.
“If we didn’t decide at that point to get a system in place, it would’ve just been unmanageable. We were getting 120 orders a day so we would’ve ended up having parcels going to the wrong address, courier labels being manually printed and just keeping track of all those different orders as they’re being picked and packed would’ve just been impossible.”
With the decision made, Ben set out to find a software suite that would be able to keep up with the company’s rapid growth and also help take the business forward. However most importantly, Epicurium required a solution that would bring their sales, purchasing and fulfilment together, so that they no longer relied on manual, paper-based processing.
“We wanted something that would import the web orders, keep track of stock coming in and out, print off all the relevant documents and integrate with our couriers. This would mean all we needed to do was pick the boxes, seal it up, press a button and then that would print off the delivery note and courier label ready to be applied to the box. Essentially the key thing we were looking for was a straightforward solution that would allow us to eliminate human error.”
Ben and his team looked around at a number of different software providers, however once they encountered OrderWise they knew they had found the right solution.
Although it was important to Epicurium to find a system that met their business requirements, the overall price of OrderWise also played a big factor in their decision. Ben explained that as a small business at the time, the company couldn’t afford a huge outlay on a new IT system. By being able to offer a competitive business management solution that did everything they needed within their budget, OrderWise was able to tick all the boxes for Epicurium.
“Cost was a big thing, obviously OrderWise had all the features we were looking for but it also seemed to be aimed at the small to medium sized business rather than some of the great big enterprise level packages that you could get, that also costed a considerable amount more. OrderWise seemed to be the one system that was very comprehensive for our needs then and also potentially what we would need it for after that time.”
With Epicurium finalising their decision to go with OrderWise, the implementation process begun. As is standard with any purchase of OrderWise, Epicurium were assigned their own Projects Team to help them learn how to use the software and also get it correctly set up ready for going live. Ben explained how the assistance him and his team received through this stage was nothing short of exemplary.
“Installation and training all went very well, in terms of learning the basic operations it was dead easy. The import processing and test despatching of orders was also very straightforward.”
Following a stress-free implementation, Epicurium officially went live with OrderWise in early 2010. So the big question is, how has using OrderWise been able to help Epicurium over the last five years and beyond?
The OrderWise Solution
One of the main reasons for Epicurium introducing OrderWise into the business was to help eliminate all manual processes and replace them with automated management, facilitated by integration to their ZenCart website, which helps ensure they offer the best service to both their trade and fulfilment customers. Ben explained how OrderWise has been able to demonstrate on numerous occasions that it is able to offer a fast despatch process, even during the busiest periods.
“We’ve had days where we’ve had 600 orders come in over the weekend on the fulfilment side, so on behalf of a client. With OrderWise, we’ve managed to get all those out with very few errors within a couple of days. We’ve had several days as busy as that and if we had been using a manual process, we’d have lost days at a time.”
However it is not just on the despatch side that Epicurium have managed to see massive improvements to the way they were working before but also on the sales order processing side too. Ben mentioned how his sales team have been able to maximise all their sales opportunities by using the real-time stock feed OrderWise is able to provide through dynamic and accurate stock management.
“We’ve been putting all sales through OrderWise itself and that’s been really quite pivotal as we now have live stock information and details of when stock is due to arrive. Also we previously weren’t able to do regional analysis to see where the sales were coming from and the precise value of each of our customers. Now we can do that analysis very easily, so we can see very, very quickly the profitability of each order as well as the overall customer. To do that previously would have been laborious, whereas with OrderWise it couldn’t be easier.”
In addition to streamlining their delivery processes, offering better sales order management and more insightful reporting, OrderWise has also helped Epicurium to effectively control their stock levels and expenditure. By enabling them to keep their warehouse full with exactly the right amount of stock and staff that they need to operate, Ben explained that OrderWise has helped the company to fully maximise their profitability.
“That’s really been critical for the business – with us being a wholesaler, traditionally our margins are pretty low so we don’t have a lot of room for employing extra staff. By having OrderWise, it’s helped us to maximise the effectiveness of the staff we have and keep our costs down. Also from a cash flow point of view, being able to predict our stock holding accurately means we can keep levels to a minimum so that we don’t have money tied up in the warehouse unnecessarily.”
This effective management of their outlays and profitability has indeed proven key to Epicurium as it has meant the company has been able to expand quite dramatically in the five years since it started using OrderWise. When asked what has been the biggest change to Epicurium’s operation since they started using OrderWise, Ben quite simply said the scale.
“We may have started from a very small base, but I’d say, turnover wise, we’re probably ten times the size we were when we first started with OrderWise.”
What’s Next for Epicurium?
So with OrderWise able to help Epicurium handle their high order volumes, analyse the different areas of the business correctly and successfully manage their extensive warehouse operations, the big question is what is the next step for OrderWise and Epicurium going forward?
“Well we are still growing quite quickly, we are adding a lot of new products at the moment, all of them batch traceable and expiry date critical as well. So, we need to continue with picking in the right order, rotating stock correctly and making sure we’re not holding too much stock whilst also not holding too little either. That’s really where OrderWise is key is making sure purchasing is efficient but then picking, packing and shipping is also effective as well.”