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November 12, 2009

Improved stock control pays dividends for Sports PLC

Rapid expansion fuels changes to firm's sales order processing

By Vinod

Replacing its sales order processing software could save Sports PLC potentially more than £50,000 a month on each of its major sports lines.

Sports PLC’s business has expanded rapidly from its humble beginnings 10 years ago selling a few products on eBay into a multi-million pound online sports business. Today, the company supplies 3,000 lines of sports equipment to 11 websites in the UK and the US.

To maintain and increase this expansion, the company realised it needed better management of its sales process and its stock control. Two years ago, it replaced its back-end, database-driven ecommerce application with a far more scalable sales order system from DCSL Software.

Initially, the application was tested on golfballs.co.uk as this site had complex inventory requirements, selling a mix of individual items, bulk sales and personalised products. Today, the application serves all 11 websites and will shortly manage an additional four sites.

With the abilty to forecast peaks and troughs in demand in place, Sports PLC now has a more finely grained understanding of its stock levels, which is hugely important to its profitability. Major ranges can sell at a rate of 1,000 units a month, so ensuring those lines are fully stocked could make the difference between securing £50,000 or not for each range.

“We were having real issues because we buy in from the Far East and that has a three-month lead time, which is difficult when you’re managing several thousand lines. The information we get now allows us to managed stock much more efficiently, so we have about a month’s stock in place. For the last six months to a year we’ve only had a few items out of stock,” said James Millington, sales director of Sports PLC.

Next step is to integrate with eBay and Amazon, which typically sell around 5,000 of the company’s products a week. This will enable real-time stock information to flow directly to staff in the dispatch department. Currently, it can take a day for the information to reach the dispatch people as the information is imported from the two sites. Once implemented by the end of the year, the same process will only take five minutes.

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