“In productivity terms with SapphireOne, I think we’ve made the most gains in data entry. We order a lot of inventory for later delivery, so in our peak times we have a high volume of high value sales. We’re not supplying customers on a weekly or monthly basis, rather there are deliveries once or twice a year. So, they are large, complex invoices with lots of detail and the ease of getting this information into our SapphireOne system has been a huge productivity boost.”
“When you’re frantically processing orders, it’s really easy to get cross-eyed at the end of the day, so the easier it is to enter the information, the better.”
Andy Boydell and Pierre Leon joined forces to form Sportrade around 12 years ago. Sportrade is a wholesale distributor to the winter sports industry.
“We mainly service ski shops, but we’ll distribute anything that may be of interest to our customer base. Not all the products are necessarily viable, but they lend to the experience of the industry and our brand’s reputation in particular.
“What I like about small business is that today I’m a salesman, tomorrow I’m an accountant and yesterday I was a warehouse picker. There’s no job too big or too small and if it needs to be done, we do it!”
Naturally a keen skier, Andy admits that he probably used to get down to the snow a lot more than he does now, especially since his business is so seasonal. Up to 60 percent of Sportrade’s annual turnover is generated in May and June, depending on the delivery cycles of suppliers, so speedy data entry becomes paramount when the product comes in, as they can get it out straight away.
“We’ve also seen a growth in overseas skiing in recent years, so November and December can be quite busy as well, but the end of the financial year is still a very big period for us and why I can’t personally go skiing as much as I used to!”
Andy’s main problem with his previous accounting package was the limited way it dealt with stock.
“One of our key lines was Dalbello ski boots and a typical model might come in 13 different sizes and two or three different colours. When we printed out an invoice, each size and colour combination required a separate line and so our invoices would end up with 25 or 30 pages per customer! It was very cumbersome and as we grew, the system was crashing and needed regular restoring and cleaning. And it was slow to produce an invoice.”
“Moving over to SapphireOne with its advanced inventory module allowed Andy to integrate a colour/size matrix for his product lines. “Not only was this system far superior, it also reduced the time taken to create all the inventory product codes. For instance, a product with seven sizes and three colours can now be created as a matrix in a couple of minutes in SapphireOne, whereas we would have spent hours creating individual product codes with our old solution.”
“Migrating from one system to another is always challenging but Andy says the process was worked through easily enough with help from SapphireOne’s staff. “We just provided our existing data file and within a few days, we were training and using SapphireOne. With any new system, there’s a degree of cautiousness for new users as they learn what they can and can’t do, but it didn’t take long for us to become very comfortable. And because we have a number of staff using several parts of the software, there’s always someone around to help new team members – and of course, there’s SapphireOne’s own support staff too.”
“Part of our implementation was integrating better methods of creating inventory codes and working out what the product matrix could look like. And as we got better, it got easier! Today we’ve ended up with a more consistent format from product to product and SapphireOne has also introduced some great improvements in terms of the interface and ease-of-use. It seems new features are being added all the time to improve SapphireOne’s usability.”
“SapphireOne is as easy as any system I have used on the market. Every system has some positives and negatives and no system is perfect, but SapphireOne is better than anything else I have used before. Some of the most powerful systems on the market I find horrible because they are difficult to operate or their reporting system is too inflexible. In comparison, SapphireOne has several options for quick and easy to use reports so it is very easy to pull out the information I require in different formats.”
“We can have up to 200 fields in a product line to report from, but I can choose just the information I need for more efficient reporting. And I know I’m only skimming the surface of what SapphireOne is capable of.”
“There are lots of other advantages in terms of productivity. For instance, SapphireOne has been set up to provide our own online portal, so our reps out on the road can access information no matter where they are – stock levels, overseas deliveries, historical invoices, whatever they need, they can get it and this is also great for our customers.”
“We were fortunate when we first took on SapphireOne that we had a staff member who was already quite experienced and she took a lead role. Less fortunately, she left last year so now I have taken on the role of accountant with an assistant and it has surprised me just how straightforward it all is when using SapphireOne – whether it’s entering sales and expenses, dealing with payroll and STP or preparing the BAS. I’m not a trained accountant or bookkeeper, but I understand the fundamentals and knowing this much, it’s very easy.”
“With simple discipline, there are no big surprises – and the more disciplined you are, the simpler things become!”
“Once you have your general ledger and structure set up correctly, it’s not overly complicated. There’s a procedure, so make sure it is clear and follow it each time.”
“We have five full time employees and six part-timers for the busy periods of the year, plus we hire in casuals when needed. Payroll’s not at all difficult to manage, but obviously it’s really important to get the details right. The more I’m involved with the backend of the business, the more I’m realising we have to be right the first time if we’re going to stop wasting time.”
“SapphireOne is very customisable and while Sportrade had some adjustments made in the very early days, Andy says he’s just happy with the improvements SapphireOne introduces each year to keep its customers up to date. “The system just seems to evolve constantly with new features that work well for us, so we haven’t really needed any special customisation so far.”
“However, in the current economic circumstances, no doubt we will be changing many aspects of how we do business. We’re looking at online transactions for our customers and integrating our business with email and social media. And given SapphireOne has a whole bunch of clients who have already gone down this road, we’re confident SapphireOne will deliver for us as well.”
“But it’s the help SapphireOne provides for the practical side of running a business that Andy most appreciates.”
“We’ve integrated SapphireOne’s Web Pack into our business with great success. Historically, our old system would generate a packing list and then it was the responsibility of the staff to manually determine what had been picked from the warehouse, manually generate an invoice and then check that the order had been prepared properly. SapphireOne automates this process, generating a packing slip. Staff mark what they pick and scan it as they put it in the box and the order is then sent up to a customer services officer who can verify the goods are all there, add in the freight charges and SapphireOne generates the invoice. In terms of consistency and the accuracy provided by scanning a barcode, we have never been more confident in what we’re doing – and for a wholesale business, that’s incredibly important.”