See how our service experts helped Sub Ohm make the major transition from a paper-based to data-enabled operation
After two decades of steady growth in the tobacco sector, Sub Ohm’s business plan was suddenly shredded by the explosion of the vaping sector. It moved quickly to capitalise on the opportunity – restructuring its UK distribution arm, establishing an impressive network of major brands from the UK, USA and China, and expanding its e-cigarette range to 15,000 SKUs.
Within three years, it had grown its revenues tenfold to become a leading online retailer and distributor of vape devices and accessories.
Whilst exciting, this growth brought the painful realisation that the company’s paper-based inventory, order management and forecasting systems were no longer adequate, causing inaccurate stock receipts, delivery errors and over-buying.
The move to a new, 45,000 sqft flagship depot/head office in Manchester provided the ideal opportunity to pivot towards a data-driven future with the installation of the next-generation business management platform: STL Evo.
Next-generation IT platform
Designed by wholesalers for wholesalers, STL Evo supports best-practice processes for merchandise management (MMS Evo), sales and purchase order processing (SOP and POP Evo) and warehouse management (WM Evo). But it’s far from prescriptive: its open architecture enables it to adapt to customers’ specific needs and seamlessly integrate with other business systems (such as Sage and b2b.com) as required.
Sub Ohm was also persuaded by STL’s deep sector knowledge and experience of working with similar customers.
The value of experience
Amair Ahmad, Operations Manager, said,
‘Transitioning away from well-established paper-based processes isn’t just a matter of installing a new IT system. It involves assessing what’s business-critical, how we want to structure for our future, and what data we’ll need to inform both strategic and operational decisions. There are physical and cultural implications, not just technology ones, to consider.
‘STL clearly understood that and gave us the support and time we needed to work through all the challenges.’
Not least of these was capturing all the product data held in disparate places and consistently entering it into the system – a task complicated by the sector’s frequent range launches, each of which can include 30 different SKUs. It required a team of new hires and took more than seven months to complete.
Once the database was built, however, STL Evo rolled out smoothly and was in test phase within a month.
After going fully live, Sub Ohm saw immediate improvements.
The directors can now get ‘any report at a click’, helping them make informed decisions swiftly and nip brewing issues in the bud.
The dashboard displays real-time stock status whilst the date controls help prioritise picking according to product expiry dates. It also shows where inventory is stored, helping to cut the average pick-time from 1 hour to 25 minutes.
The ability to track sales trends helps Sub Ohm direct its immense buying power astutely, ensuring it can keep providing the products its customers want, when they want it, at a great price.
Importantly, this visibility of stock and demand enables Sub Ohm to give its overseas suppliers time to manufacture and ship replacement products before out-of-stocks can cause disappointment and lost sales.
‘You have to synchronise a lot of moving parts to deliver a quality service. STL Evo gives us the insights and control to do just that.’