Builders merchant successfully opens new branch with the help of cloud hosted software, business analytics and SMS text messaging

Branch Bros Ltd, a builders merchant that is a member of the National Merchant Buying Society (NMBS) and h&b Group, has praised MAM’s solutions for helping to establish a strong foundation for its newly opened branch in Holbeach, Lincolnshire.

Branch Bros first switched to Trader, MAM’s business management solution for builders merchants, in 2010. Four years later the company swapped its on-site servers for the intelligent cloud hosted version of the software, Trader Online. The Holbeach branch opened in July 2017, marking 50 Years in business, and became the third Branch Bros site to use the application to manage its day-to-day operations.

Since first installing Trader, Branch Bros has increased its margins, streamlined stock turnover and grown its business. The move to Trader Online, which is hosted in a state-of-the-art data centre, provides the company with the same functionality as the traditional on-premise software without the burden of maintaining server hardware.

Speaking about the advantages of using cloud hosted software, Ashley Branch, Managing Director at Branch Bros, said: “Going over to Trader Online gave us a bit more peace of mind not having to worry about on site servers and allowed us to concentrate on trading, and ultimately to consider expanding the business with this latest venture into Holbeach. Due to the flexibility of the software, it made getting the branch up and running a much more simple process.”

Branch Bros is a business that prides itself on delivering a convenient service by having the right products in the right place for both its trade and retail customers alike. Prior to the branch opening, the company were already using Phocas Business Intelligence to determine the best ranges of products and stock levels in advance, based on real data of its own experiences at the two existing branches.

“When opening the new branch we used the information from Phocas Business Intelligence to tell us what stock to put on the ground,” as Ashley explains. “Rather than going into it blind, we had some real intelligence to work out what products were the best to stock from the start.”

Produced by MAM partner Phocas Software, Phocas Business Intelligence is an analytics solution that allows Trader users to gain deeper insights into business data and help make more informed decisions.

Phocas took us to a different level of intelligence,” Ashley continued. “It has definitely helped us make smarter business decisions about our customers and about our stock. We can look into individual customers in case we want to target them or we just look to see who’s buying what in general. We can ensure that we do have better stocks of products that do sell well, and we can keep the stock down of products that don’t do so well.”

As well as Phocas Business Intelligence, Branch Bros has been utilising Trader Online‘s SMS text messaging module to directly engage with its customers and drive an increase in footfall. The company also used the module to advertise the opening of its new branch to local traders.

Using the module as a direct marketing tool has had a positive impact, as Ashley explains: “The SMS text messaging module is very effective and we definitely see a lot of success when we use it. We’ve definitely had an increase in the number of customers coming through the door as a direct result.”

“We’ve found that when we are planning a trade morning, we send out flyers and put up posters in the branch but a lot of people who do come in often say that they were prompted to come by the text messages we have also sent.”

Aside from using the SMS text messaging module to advertise its products, Branch Bros used the module to promote a charity fundraising event for MacMillan Cancer Support. “We sent text messages to our customers to support our event on the day. We didn’t know how many would join us on the day, but hundreds of people came in for breakfast and refreshments and made donations at the same time. On the day we raised an amazing £1927 for MacMillan Cancer Support.”

Reflecting on deploying a wide range of MAM solutions, Ashley said: “Before Trader we used a different back office system where a lot of processes were done manually, and we didn’t even have a proper front end trading system.”

“Prior to using a hosted system, our main admin office had our servers on-site so the separate branches were reliant on us looking after the hardware, which involved carrying out the daily backups. It’s good to have that peace of mind that now with three sites, they don’t have to rely on each other, we just rely on the hosted system.”

“We’re delighted that Trader Online has been able to assist Branch Bros with the successful opening of its third location,” said Ben Whitehouse, Senior Sales Manager at MAM Software.

“It’s rewarding to see that Trader Online, along with Phocas Business Intelligence and the SMS text messaging module, have delivered positive results in terms of streamlining stock turnover and improving footfall. We are proud to support Branch Bros and look forward to continuing our close relationship.”

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