@logistics Reply, the Supply Chain Execution solution specialist, is rapidly winning a growing blue chip customer base here and in Europe, drawn to its market leading product suite and the flexibility of its consultancy-based approach to clients’ evolving business needs. In the UK, Fiat, the auto giant, Kenwood, the electrical appliance maker, and a leading UK food group that supplies the major supermarkets, and in Europe, Geodis Wilson, the freight forwarding company and Italsempione, the international logistics company are among those choosing @logistics Reply’s solutions to run their warehouse operations.

@logistics Reply‘s innovative WMS product suite includes WM Analytics, Transportation Management, Co-Managed Inventory and Proof of Delivery (POD). And as we move further into the era of on demand cloud computing, @logistics Reply is making news here too with SideUp, its innovative ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) solution. SideUp Reply provides complete supply chain visibility from warehouse to delivery, and supports all elements from ideal stock placement through to route and fleet management. Geodis Wilson cited SideUp Reply’s outstanding benefits of cost containment, extremely fast activation times – the system was activated in two weeks, ease of use and extreme flexibility as the main features influencing this leading company’s selection of this innovative solution for their logistics and transport operations.

Jez Tongue, Partner, @logistics Reply, heads up the company’s UK business. He spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

WLN – How would you sum up your business?

We provide flexible warehouse management solutions, which we see as a major point of difference. Rather than push a fixed, ‘off-the-shelf’ product set, we take a consultancy mindset and work with customers to understand their operational needs and then build the solution to fit. We offer our clients the right ‘best of breed’ functionality to suit the needs of their warehouse operations at that point in their development.

WLN – What does “@logistics Reply” mean and where did the name come from?

@logistics Reply is one of 43 businesses operating under The Reply Group.  Established in Italy in 1996, all the businesses incorporate the Reply brand.

“Logistics” is our business and ”@” marries logistics with the power of the internet. The ampersand also ensures we’re always listed first!

WLN – As the @logistics Reply partner responsible for the UK, what does your day to day role involve?

Whilst I am responsible for P&L and for overall activity in the UK, my focus is on customers, both existing and prospective. I am driven by talking to people in the business, analysing their challenges and developing solutions for them.

WLN – As a business, how are you organised in the UK to serve warehouse and logistics clients?

We’re still very much in start up here: there are three of us in the UK at present, backed by 120 in Italy. We’re focused for the moment on the SideUp product: the two other guys, Daniele Vanini and Chris Hannigan, concentrate on the consultancy side, and activation and delivery of these solutions.

WLN – Does @logistics Reply operate outside the UK and Italy?

@logistics has a presence across international markets including Italy, Germany, UK, North and Latin America.

WLN – When was the UK business set-up? Where are you based?

Our central London office was set up last spring. However, the majority of our time is spent on-site with customers.

WLN – Where do you develop your UK solutions?

Core R&D is in Milan and refinements are made in the UK to meet the specific needs of customers as required.

WLN – What makes the UK a good market for @logistics Reply?

The UK has one of the world’s most competitive retail sectors. We develop solutions that help suppliers work more efficiently with retailers and vice versa, which enables retailers to supply consumers more competitively.

WLN – Before focusing on SideUp, can you provide an overview of Click, @logistics Reply’s other WMS application?

Click is a traditional – on-premise licensed – WMS. It is actively used by the automotive; fashion and apparel and food and beverage sectors; all reflecting our Italian heritage. Fiat was one of the first Click customers and continues to work with us globally, as well as in the UK and Italy.

WLN – What does SideUp offer?

SideUp offers market-leading WMS functionality and hosting/upgrade services, through to after sales support, ‘all baked in’ as part of the monthly fee, which includes a modest set-up cost but no capital layout. @logistics Reply oversees the project delivery and management including infrastructure design, capacity planning and custom solutions development including the practicalities of device integration e.g. RF, voice recognition and RFID, or integration with ERP or other host applications.

There are additional options for on-site support including facilities management, product training workshops, outsourced security, hosting and DBA monitoring and assistance.

WLN – How does SideUp compare with other WMS programs?

Too many warehouse operations run on WMS systems that are essentially all-purpose models, with businesses paying for functions they don’t need. SideUp aligns the warehouse’s needs so only those functions required are activated and paid for.

SideUp is ideal for businesses with limited IT budgets. For some it is the only cost-effective route; it provides the customisable scalability for users to pay as little as they wish for the functions they need, with no contractual constraints.

WLN – Can SideUp grow with a business?

Yes, SideUp is an on-demand platform, so customers can “switch-on or off” in line with the needs of the business and its surrounding economic climate. In addition to the “pay-as-you-grow” payment model, customers are guaranteed the latest upgrades without the cost and time of managing maintenance.

SideUp supports the gradual transition to a WMS and protects much needed cash-flow and capital.

WLN – Is there a limit on the number of users?

SideUp has unlimited scalability. It’s a browser-based application, hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  More users can be added with a click…

WLN – Who is SideUp aimed at?

SideUp is ideal for warehouses requiring rapid start-up and for those which operate in uncertain scenarios or with very high stock movement. Increasingly, manufacturers are using it to manage peak demands or one-off projects.  This is because it’s low-risk and contract free.

WLN – How quick is SideUp to set-up and to deliver ROI?

SideUp is quick and low cost to put in place. It can be fully functional in typically 4-6 weeks and paying for itself within 12. This speed-to-benefit is a major differentiator from traditional WMS systems that can take up to six months, or more, to go live. Additionally, SideUp offers rapid-time-to-value because there’s no capital purchase, so initial investment is eliminated.

WLN – Do you provide user training?

Yes we do. Typically we encourage a train-the-trainer approach, as the local operational teams know the operations, complete with jargon and potential for user workarounds or “process innovation” (not always a good thing!) better than @logistics ever can.

However, our clients’ success is our success, so we focus on what is best for the operation to achieve its goals and if this means taking on end-user training, this is something we are willing to do.

WLN – How secure is crucial business data in a cloud?

Although many organisations, including the financial sector, have become used to entrusting sensitive customer data to hosted, on-demand services like CRM, and even HR on-Demand, the manufacturing world has been slow to embrace cloud computing. For those logisticians that have taken advantage of the technology evolution, and require a pragmatic and scalable approach in line with the current business/economic climate – the somewhat out-dated stigma around SaaS based platforms has been shaken off.

It is, however, vital to use trusted, properly architected and managed SaaS services. Like an on-premise solution, security provision is essential.

WLN – What operational improvements does SideUp offer?

SideUp makes warehouse processes more efficient, rationalises stock and therefore storage requirements, reduces errors, shortens order times and provides real-time visibility of operations. It also automates operational processes including automatic acquisition and transfer of real-time information.

One customer is currently saving between £4,000 and £5,000 each week in supplier fines for one retail customer alone since deploying SideUp. This is the result of demonstrably accurate order delivery, backed by a full audit trail and cool chain; improved date rotation and the virtual elimination of costly “special transports”.  Inventory control has also improved, scrappage been reduced and customer service increased.

WLN – What processes does SideUp automate and what information does it handle?

SideUp suits both manufacturing environments (BOM, kitting, assembly and de-assembly) as well as classic distribution operations, including those looking for semi-automation.

It manages the key warehouse processes including physical and virtual receiving; (delivery notes, unsold items, supplier order, quality control, received quantity control); put away (labelling, pallet composition, location optimisation); shipping, picking and inventory management (deliver/freight notes, traceability, physical material handling) through to execution (RFID, barcode, voice terminals).

WLN – Can SideUp be tailored to different organisations?

SideUp offers easy customisation and “self-service” personalisation. There are also vertical market extensions developed for fashion and apparel, food and beverage and automotive operations.

@logistics Reply provides  an integration tool called Universal Link. This ensures robust and sophisticated integration with existing IT systems, including ERP, OMS, TMS and SCP solutions. We believe we are setting a precedent with Universal Link.

WLN – At what point in its growth would you advise a company to move from SideUp to another of your WMS applications and is this easy to do?

Cloud-ready solutions are not “simply copy and pastes” of traditional on-premise solutions. They are architected to run on numerous machines, virtual or otherwise and to have multiple processes running in parallel for performance reasons as well as for redundancy/disaster recovery purposes. All of this means that SaaS solutions are capable of dealing with more and more data intensive applications, providing virtually unlimited scalability.

There is the possibility for larger organisations that want to have more access to data and more control over the timing and frequency of maintenance and upgrade periods – when the solution can be temporarily unavailable – to move to a “private cloud” solution.

It’s still SaaS, but more personalised and customer-specific. Switching from SaaS to on-premise – as opposed to vice versa – is possible, but the effort should not be underestimated. Typically for larger, data-intensive and –sensitive organisations, which want to exercise more control, I would recommend a “private cloud” approach rather than move to on-premise.

As a caveat, potential SideUp purchasers are encouraged to undertake a data modelling exercise to ensure current and potential business volumes can be supported by the SaaS application they are considering, as well as any future investment in materials handling equipment (MHE), which may be better driven by an on-premise solution.

WLN – Is it possible that remotely hosted, on-demand WMS solutions like SideUp will replace traditional WMS solutions?

It is vital that warehouse and IT managers consider the following features to establish whether a SaaS solution best suits their requirements. These can be grouped into six categories; speed of deployment; IT resources; business process; budgeting requirements; company data and external connectivity policies, and integration.

Whilst SideUp/SaaS isn’t the answer to every warehouse problem, I believe that, due to the 15 year R&D heritage upon which SideUp draws and the virtually unlimited scalability delivered by a true SaaS solution, we can offer a high degree of functional fit for most operational scenarios.

I challenge warehouse managers to give this easy and cost-effective model a try!

WLN – Earlier you highlighted your consultancy mind-set. What do you offer that is different?

At Reply we have a project, rather than pure product, mentality. We’re focused on measurable outcomes and the achievement of planned business benefits, not just whether the software is installed on time or not.

We offer services to help deliver a wide range of projects including definition of operational process flows, integration with ERP or other host systems, field integration, custom solutions development, capacity planning, infrastructure design and of course, a full project management and system implementation service.

We’re willing to work with clients on specific developments, not just enhancements to our WMS products, including totally new solutions within our core focus of supply chain execution, of course…

WLN – What industry standards  do your WMS solutions support?

As a new entry to the UK market this is something we are actively working on.  SCOR metrics are supported, but we’re constantly looking to align our solutions to the standards important to our clients.

WLN – Are you promoting SideUp and @logistics Reply at any industry exhibitions?

We’re taking part in Logistics Link Live (8-9th June); Warehousing Futures (October); a CILT roundtable (TBC) and Logistics Link North.

WLN – What impact has the recession had on demand for your solutions?

Sustainable, low risk solutions like SideUp, which assure the protection of a business’s investment, are increasingly appealing to manufacturing and IT managers where “operating expense” is the phrase of the moment.

The knock-on-effect of consumer caution has increased uncertainty in manufacturing; this and the rise in small, temporary logistics contracts have boosted interest in applications which guarantee financial simplicity and control and are “ready to go”.

WLN – What is the future for SideUp and @logistics Reply? We’re  very enthusiastic about the impact SideUp will have in the UK WMS market.

The feedback has been extremely positive, with some organisations contemplating replacement programmes for their existing “market leading” WMS solutions. We will capitalise on this and start to offer a range of market-specific WMS solutions. We also plan to add related supply chain execution solutions including Co-Managed Inventory, to address areas of pain or opportunity currently unaddressed in the market other than by very expensive ERP-type solutions.

Finally, we will use our successes in Italy, the UK and Latin America to create a respected and reliable global supply chain execution partner for the Cloud generation.

WLN – Where can readers find more about SideUp and @logistics Reply?

www.reply.eu

www.sideupreply.eu/en/

www.clickreply.eu/en

@logistics Reply

Jez Tongue

Tel: 01628 481553

email: j.tongue@replyltd.co.uk

www.sideupreply.eu/en