Family-run builders’ merchant Build Supplies welcomes the digital revolution

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Digital transformation is a big theme for merchants across the UK and Covid-19 has accelerated the trend significantly. For Cornish builders’ merchants Build Supplies, moving to the Cloud for its operations was already on the agenda, and with a brand new, 17-acre site just opened and an eCommerce platform launching, the business needed to prepare for the challenges ahead.

Established in 2005, Build Supplies is a family-run, independent timber and builders’ merchant. Its aim is to offer construction companies , trades, self-builders and the general public a range of good quality, well-priced materials with a fast, easy and reliable delivery and collection service. Whilst wanting to compete with national merchants in terms of service and product offerings, Build Supplies maintains its focus on uncomplicated, traditional family business values.

With its eCommerce site launching, Build Supplies needed to update its infrastructure to be able to align the digital front end of the business with the operational back end. Thanks to sustained growth, Build Supplies recently acquired a brand-new, 17 acre site. The expansion, combined with the move into eCommerce, highlighted the growing need to look at the systems used in the business to manage the stock, workflow and business, and so director Mike Tregunna began the task of selecting a new, cloud-based ERP system.

“We needed to improve every area of the business,” he says. “Operations, logistics, admin, stock management, forecasting – we had to find a new system to help us evolve.”

A new system to support growth and expansion

Like many legacy systems, the software in place felt “cumbersome, overcomplicated, outdated and difficult to get the best out of.” Mike and the team wanted to find a new provider where training and support would be responsive and effective, and which could flex with the company’s growth.

After a lengthy selection process involving several leading software providers, Build Supplies opted for a brand new, cloud-based system from another family-run business, Ten-25 Software.

“The online demo system was without a doubt the key reason that we signed up. Any company that has the confidence in its product to allow potential customers to use it, at their leisure and with no pressure, gets my attention. It demonstrated how easy Merchanter is to use and gave us the most in-depth testing of all the companies we contacted.” Mike Tregunna, Director, Build Supplies.

A modern solution for today’s challenging commercial world

“We wanted to find the most up to date, browser-based builders’ merchant ERP system to put us on a level playing field with the nationals in terms of technology,” explains Mike. “But it was also important to find an easy and straightforward company to deal with, which offered responsive service and the same family values we have ourselves. Ten-25 ticked all those boxes, and the online demo system convinced us it was the right way to go.”

They identified that they wanted a package that fed through information on key operations and analysis data easily, rather than having to hunt for it. “Merchanter’s KPIs and reports are exceptionally easy to use and will massively improve all areas of our operation and performance,” says Mike.

Accessibility and Control

Accessibility and control were also incredibly important factors in choosing the new software. Mike says, “We loved the idea of a browser-based system, which was fully accessible on any device, from anywhere. With Merchanter, we can control our software the way we want to, making the changes we want, when we want them, without the need to log support calls or speak to account managers.”

Cloud software can of course be updated and refreshed automatically, and remotely, which was another benefit, meaning the user always has access to the latest version of the system and the newest features, without disruption or additional cost.

“We’d found that needing client software downloads and VPN access to get into our existing system was extremely restrictive, which was further highlighted by the ongoing pandemic and need for flexible working,” he says. “Opportunities to work remotely will be hugely advantageous to motivating our team.”

Ease of use helps the whole team

Merchanter has been built on the principle of usability, and Ten-25 has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the interface is simple to use but incredibly powerful, enabling users to perform daily functions more easily and access information more simply. This proved to be a deciding factor for Build Supplies, and one that brought the whole team on board with the decision.

“Merchanter has clearly put its users at the forefront of its development,” says Mike. “From the gaming designer’s layout of intuitive functions, big fonts, and bold graphics, which make it a pleasure to use all day, making it less draining on your eyes and less tiresome.”

As Ten-25 Managing Director Ian Oldrey says, “We wanted to make the system as simple as possible to use. Simplicity leads to more use; more use leads to better information within the system, and better information leads to better decisions, better processes and ultimately, better business.”

Mike agrees, adding, “All of our staff are extremely excited about using Merchanter as it makes all of our working lives so much more enjoyable. The flexibility and control in terms of pricing, the simplicity, and options available to control our stocks, will be a gamechanger to our company.”

He also looks forward to the opportunities the software will provide for staff in the longer term, saying, “Merchanter and its superb remote training will allow us to employ new sales staff members once the pandemic has passed, and we are confident that they will require minimal input in terms of training to get up to speed.”

Flexible - and affordable - solutions for merchants

Given the uncertain commercial climate and ongoing challenges of Covid and Brexit, among others, it was important for the chosen system to be not only affordable but flexible for the shifting demands.

“The format of user subscription, which we see works so well for many software applications, really works for us. The ability to add and subtract users at the click of a button is really innovative for our industry and it will no doubt help growing pains in a growing business as will the ability to add additional branches in minutes.”

The ease of implementation helped to clinch the decision too; with everything from demo system to training being available remotely, it meant that Covid restrictions didn’t hold up the process and the whole project could be delivered in a very short space of time.

“Everything is done remotely,” says Mike. “This has saved a huge amount of time, cost and waste in terms of unnecessary travel, fuel and accommodation. It has really highlighted the way business can and should be done moving forward.”

The cloud-based nature of the system allows total flexibility of use and guarantees that the user always has access to the latest version of the software and its features. Again, this was an attractive proposition, especially given the day-to-day control it enables.

“The Super User allows us to control our software, the way we want to. We can make the changes that we want, when we want, without the need to log support calls and go through account managers,” he says.

“We can see how good Merchanter is already, and it is clear that this is the weapon of choice for any building and timber merchant that want to bring their business up to date and drive forward.”

The right foundations for eCommerce and future growth

Launching its eCommerce website via industry experts eCommonSense, Build Supplies is confident it now has the right system to run its operations efficiently and effectively. Mike says, “We are excited about using Merchanter to run our business and the great opportunities that this, linked with our eCommonSense website, will give us.”

Mike and the team now feel ready to face the challenges ahead, with the freedom and control to flex where needed and the insights and information to make the right business decisions day to day – and it has been a really motivating change for the whole business.

“Merchanter will make a huge difference,” he says. “The ease of use, control and monitoring have motivated a huge culture change for our company. This piece of software gives our family business the opportunity to be right up alongside the national merchants in terms of technology, without the need for a dedicated in-house IT team. I really cannot praise Merchanter, Ten-25 and the team highly enough.”

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