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Electronic trading solution streamlines administration and creates efficiencies for leading wholesaler

An electronic trading solution from Atlas has enabled one of the largest independent wholesalers in Northern Ireland to streamline its administration and make significant cost savings.

Savage and Whitten Wholesale Ltd (S&W) was formed in 2000 through a merger of two long established businesses. Based in Newry, Co. Down, ideally located between Belfast and Dublin, S&W offers the value and range of a national distributor and the local focus necessary to meet the needs of a diverse range of small corner shops and retailers. 

The company delivers throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with weekly visits by representatives to maintain that all important personal attention and customer service. In recent years S&W has established its own successful symbol group of convenience stores branded Today’s.

S&W has also invested in technology, with a fully automated voice picking system ensuring that orders are fulfilled with a high level of accuracy and a web-based ordering site with more than 4000 products and prices available to all their customers.

A key to their success has been the application of central billing systems to simplify the process by which S&W’s retailers receive deliveries from suppliers, such as bread from Linwoods and Really Good and frozen and chilled items from M3 Distribution, and then pay for them.

The retailer takes delivery every day of bread, milk and other short shelf life, perishable items. Instead of paying the supplier for each delivery, the retailer puts the details on the central billing account they hold with S&W. At the end of the month they receive a consolidated invoice and statement for all their purchases from all of their suppliers from S&W, which in turn pays the individual suppliers.

There are benefits for retailer, supplier and wholesaler, with administration simplified throughout the process thereby reducing costs for all. Accurate data has reduced order and invoice reconciliation disputes, improving payment to terms and therefore cash flow. S&W communicate supplier promotions and price changes both online and via their regular retailer bulletin.

To make central billing work, S&W knew that it needed to work with a partner to enable large numbers of invoices to be processed electronically. S&W sought the advice of Atlas’s partner in Northern Ireland, Kelly Solutions, to identify the best solution to deliver the full benefits of central billing. 

Says Paul Kelly of Kelly Solutions: “Over the last year we have worked closely with S&W to deliver an EDI solution that has allowed them to process central billing invoices automatically.  S&W estimates that we have saved them at least three days a week and the volumes going through the system have increased dramatically. It is safe to say that, without our solution, they would have needed to hire extra admin staff to process large numbers of paper invoices.” 

S&W’s Commercial Trading Controller Cathal McAteer added: “Instead of manually inputting invoices onto our ledger they are now imported in one generic file through the Atlas system, which means that far less time is consumed in administration.

“It’s reduced our workload considerably. Without this solution we would have had to increase the numbers in our admin team. It's freed up my time to work on other developments. Customers' invoices are now much more accurate with manual inputting mistakes cut out. Invoices are much more detailed for trading partners and more accuracy and reduced errors means problem solving is reduced. 

“More and more trading partners are requesting EDI - and our capabilities in this area have undoubtedly helped us to manage the growth of our business. I can’t sing Atlas and Kelly Solutions’ praises enough. They are flexible, great to work with and have been with us all the way. Every challenge and issue that has cropped up has been dealt with promptly and expertly.”

“Instead of manually inputting invoices onto our ledger they are now imported in one generic file through the Atlas system, which means that far less time is consumed in administration.”

Cathal McAteer
Commercial Trading Controller
Savage and Whitten