A R Aspinall & Sons Ltd

Introduction

A. R. Aspinall & Sons Ltd is a family-run builders merchant based in Willingham, just outside Cambridge. Having been builders themselves, Andrew Aspinall and his team have over 50 years’ experience in the building industry and take great pride in offering a high-level of service to local tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts. “We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop-shop,” explains Andrew. “We cater for all aspects of the building trade and aim to offer a wide range of goods from stock.”

With a dedicated storage yard and retail shop, Aspinalls offer a variety of both light- and heavy-side products including tools, timber, plumbing, paving, paint, aggregates and electrical goods.

Situation

Because of the diversity and number of stock items, Aspinalls have very specific and well-defined requirements for a stock and retail management system. “We have a wide range of products and variety of customers,” says Andrew, referring to their mix of trade and retail business. “It’s important that we manage our stock efficiently and process sales quickly and accurately.”

“MAM were recommended to me by a friend,” explains Andrew. “They were well known and respected in the automotive industry and had developed a product for the building trade.” MAM was happy to visit Aspinalls to demonstrate their Windows-based Trader software and to answer questions. This personal visit brought home how easily the MAM solution would shave time off everyday tasks such as selling goods, checking real-time stock levels, entering new items or product descriptions and ordering.

Andrew continued: “It took very little time for MAM Software to have Trader up and running in 2004 and we began to see the benefits such as improved customer service and accurate stock control immediately. The guys at MAM Software are clearly very knowledgeable and are more than happy to help whenever it’s required.”

With the help of improved software, Aspinalls soon experienced business growth. Due to the extra workload, Andrew wondered if he could purchase a system that could relieve staff of more tasks. After receiving communication from MAM Software about its new cloud- hosted, Software as a Service (SaaS) model, Andrew got in touch to see how it could benefit his business.

Solution

In March 2014, Aspinalls decided to make the move to Trader Online, MAM Software’s cloud-hosted version of Trader. Andrew said: “The staff at MAM Software expertly explained how cloud computing could simplify our IT maintenance. As a fully-managed service, the SaaS model saves our staff time from having to carry out tasks such as server maintenance and keeping sensitive information safe.”

MAM Software’s SaaS solutions are hosted on remote servers which are monitored and stored in a state-of-the-art data centre. Trader Online contains the full functionality of the traditional on-premise version of Trader, but features remote data backups and automatic software updates as standard. A fully-scalable solution, Trader Online is rented on a monthly subscription basis and eliminates the cost of on-site servers.

Andrew continued: “We chose to move to Trader Online to increase business efficiency and we’ve also found it to be a more financially viable option as we no longer have to worry about replacing or upgrading on-site servers. Needless to say, the amount of work hours we have gained due to a reduced need for our staff to maintain IT infrastructure is invaluable.”

Benefits

Streamlined IT maintenance

Cloud hosting significantly simplifies the tasks associated with IT maintenance. “Now that we don’t have to maintain our own servers, our staff can spend much more time on the shop floor with customers. We no longer have to carry out our own data backups, and we’ve actually noticed that Trader runs quicker by utilising remote servers instead of our own,” said Andrew.

Future-proof technology

“We see cloud computing as the future; it’s just a better way of doing things,” said Andrew. Cloud computing is a fully-scalable solution, making it easy to add new users and to extend bandwidth to accommodate a growing business. “We’re also in the process of installing SMS communication into Trader Online, a new feature that will help us to improve instant communication with our customers as well as reduce our outgoing costs.”

Simple implementation

“The main thing we were worried about with such a big transition was the disruption to trade. However, the capable staff at MAM Software were able to configure Trader Online with very little downtime, and most of that occurred outside of business hours,” said Andrew.

Increased operational efficiency

Trader has helped Aspinalls to enhance in all areas of its business, from account management to order processing, as Andrew explained: “We have instant access to customer and product details with Trader, allowing us to look at previous purchases, buying patterns and account details. We can use this information to create up-sell opportunities and to enhance the customer experience. The purchase order functionality is invaluable, automatically ordering products when they reach a pre-determined level and updating stock levels with every sale.”

Comprehensive support

Aspinalls have a software provider that they know they can trust and who are always there to help. Andrew said: “The staff at MAM Software are a friendly and helpful bunch who are always happy to answer any questions we may have. It’s great to know that there’s always somebody on the end of the phone when we need assistance.”

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