Boosting service levels and availability has overtaken stock reduction as UK companies’ chief expectation from inventory management software, according to the developers of Europe’s top-selling software tool.
Richard Evans, Sales Director of Slimstock UK says that one of the most notable features of 2011 is ‘a marked change’ in the demands companies are now placing on inventory management tools.
"Until now, the chief expectation has traditionally been about stock reduction, but last year the thrust appeared to be more about increasing service levels and availability, improving market position and stealing a march on the competition" he says.
His comments come as Slimstock notches-up its best year yet, with sales ‘at least a third up’ on 2010 – which was also a record year.
Key account gains including two major client acquisitions in December topped-off a year that also saw the UK echo Europe in recognising UK-developed Slim4 as inventory optimisation software field-leader.
"2011 will go down as the year that UK industry came into its own in recognising the clear financial advantages of stock optimisation. It’s been a fact of commercial life in Europe for many years, but this is the year that the pattern has become established in Britain too – which means the UK still has some catching up to do" he says.
British-developed Slim4 has a track record of delivering often dramatic reductions in inventory levels and investment – typically between 25 and 30% without loss of availability, with results regularly measurable within weeks of commissioning.
During 2011, the program’s Coventry-based developers also recorded 100% client retention, scooped an international award as developers of ‘the most innovative idea in retail excellence’, and saw European sales increase by more than a fifth, with more new implementations completed during 2011 than almost all of its competitors’ entire customer bases.
December’s gains – leading nationwide paper supplier Premier Paper Group, and A.C. Entertainment Technologies, based in High Wycombe and recognised as a major international force in cutting-edge entertainment technology – cap a year that also saw the addition of a raft of major national and international names to the client stable.
They include £340 million turnover Euro Car Parts, Ferrari Piston Services, the UK’s biggest supplier of PVC-U building products Eurocell and 160-year old kitchenwares firm Kitchen Kraft, as well as all Kwik-Fit’s Dutch outlets and Turtle Wax’s European distribution centre.
The year was also marked by an active research and development programme that resulted in a powerful new release featuring web-enabled functionality, improvements geared towards slashing implementation time to under three months and ‘a close working partnership’ with Cranfield University to deliver a new supply chain planning and management course based on Slim4 and described as ‘breakthrough’.
Aside from the field-leading technical features that have steered Slim4 into Europe’s biggest-selling program of its kind with more than 2000 active users in the Eurozone alone, the company’s aim of never knowingly selling a package with a pay-back time exceeding twelve months is also viewed as a key factor in this year’s successes.
"The common denominator with all our clients is recognition of the close correlation between effective supply chain management and eventual success – and that inventory management is now the best route to survival" comments Sales Director Richard Evans.
He adds that remaining focused on inventory management to the exclusion of any other business activity also emerged as a key element in this year’s success, alongside an enhanced marketing regime spearheaded by the firm’s ‘referenceability’: "…our clients have been recording some phenomenal results and are prepared to pay tribute the role to Slim4 played in that" he says.
Typical are West Midlands steel stockholder Van Leeuwen Wheeler recording 40% stock reduction with no loss of service level, and Merseyside fluid power supplier Flowtech reporting ramped-up service levels with no additional investment in stock.
He adds that Slimstock is forecasting further growth for this year – though, he says, it’s unlikely to rival last year’s runaway success.