RUBB

Snapfulfil, the latest award-winning solution in Synergy Logistics’ family of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), is a breakthrough in WMS affordability which pays for itself the moment it is up and running and continues to generate net positive benefits every day it is used. A unique combination of advanced technology, functional strength and a customer-centric business model, Snapfulfil is a comprehensive Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which is conceptually innovative and is delivered to your desktop and operation using the latest web technologies and “Real Time” Radio Frequency (RF) control.

Established in 1972, Synergy Logistics is a UK-based software company that focuses on delivering effective WMS for clients ranging from SME’s to global organisations including Coca Cola, SCA, White Arrow and Vodafone. Significant and continuous R&D investment has ensured Synergy remains at the forefront of advances in WMS technology with Snapfulfil and other innovative solutions, whilst maintaining rock solid reliability.

Synergy’s dedication to customer satisfaction and the delivery of effective solutions to its valued clients has resulted in numerous business awards from their peers. Their latest accolade is the Best Warehouse Management Software of the Year 2010, awarded by The Institute of Transport Management. Gavin Clark, Commercial Director, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Gavin, what does your role as Commercial Director involve? Are you personally involved in developing solutions for clients?

The role of Commercial Director is varied, which is just how I would want it to be. Being face to face with clients and prospective ones too, means that I get instant feedback on the real needs of the modern warehouse and how people are using Snapfulfil in different ways to meet their own particular requirements. As Snapfulfil is a Rules Based system, the same software is being effectively deployed across diverse market verticals such as E-Commerce, Manufacturing, 3PL and Distribution environments. My role allows me to contribute to the understanding of how we are currently helping these types of client, ensuring we maximise the benefits to prospective clients and to feed back to the business where the system could be enhanced to our clients benefit. This understanding also helps me in other aspects of the role, including marketing and communications, to tailor our messages and knowledge base to address the issues that are most current.

WLN – Who were the founders of Synergy Logistics? Are they still involved in the business?

Synergy was set up in 1972, and our current Chairman, Hugh Stevens was instrumental right from the very beginning. Hugh is still involved on a day-to-day basis and is instrumental in both the R&D and future development of the business as a whole.

WLN – How big is Synergy Logistics in turnover in the UK, and globally? How fast are you growing as a company?

Synergy is still what many would consider to be a small business, in terms of turnover, but with our latest office opened up in Charleston, South Carolina and our client base including companies such as Coca-Cola, SCA, Vax and Vodafone/UTL, we might be considered to be a much larger entity. Company growth has been substantial since the launch of Snapfulfil, with the number of recent contract wins demonstrating the power of the Snapfulfil offering. The economic climate and lack of available capital spend has been very challenging for many traditional software businesses, used to charging significant ‘upfront’ costs for software licences and implementation services. We believe this model to be an outdated legacy and its days are numbered, we are proud to be offering a sophisticated solution for the modern warehouse, but with no Capital Expenditure required. We see it as “ putting our money, where our mouth is!” How many companies out there offer to do all of the work, without asking for a single penny? That demonstrates our confidence in both the product and the way in which we implement it.

WLN – How important is the UK as a market for your technologies?

The UK market is extremely sophisticated and advanced and this is key to us, both as a business and as an environment to understand and keep up with the latest advances in logistics.

WLN – Where is Synergy Logistics based in the UK? Do you have any offices in other countries?

Synergy is centrally positioned in the UK, based in Loughborough, Leicestershire our bespoke 10,000 square feet gives us the perfect environment. Our head office contains all of the development, support and training for our clients here in the UK and our office in Charleston, South Carolina looks after our US clients.

WLN – Your latest WMS solution is Snapfulfil. What actually is Snapfulfil?

Snapfulfil is an advanced, proven, award-winning ‘Tier 1’ WMS solution that enables our clients to improve their warehouse operations without investing capital. It is fully RF-driven and includes all the essential scanning hardware and RF infrastructure. Snapfulfil is provided on a simple monthly subscription, and can be delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution to their desktop. What’s more, our fixed monthly subscription includes dual dedicated Internet connectivity, implementation, training and support for the rugged RF terminals and infrastructure.

WLN – How does Snapfulfil work?

Snapfulfil SaaS WMS is hosted on a “SAS 70” certified multi-site environment, with a resilient and redundant data network to protect your business critical data. Its advanced ‘Cloud’ computing power ensures high availability and security to the most exacting standards. We even ensure the client has two points of internet access to the hosting environment for resilience.

WLN – What functionality does it include?

Snapfulfil offers all of the functionality that you expect from a ‘Tier 1’ WMS, controlling all aspects of receiving, put away, audit, inventory control, picking and despatch, all in ‘Real Time’ via the inclusive Radio Frequency controlled, hand held computer or if required ‘Voice’. Additionally, we also control all of the resources required to drive your warehouse, reporting their performance and efficiency to management, along with extra topic features, such as Dock and Yard Management, PI/CI and Loading. The real strength of Snapfulfil is its ‘rules based’ architecture, this means that the most diverse warehouse environments can be managed by the same core software with little system modification or associated cost.

WLN – For the uninitiated, what is the difference between ‘Software as a Service’ and a Fully Managed Service?

Like many such phases, they will often mean different things to each individual. Some consider the definition of SaaS to be software that is Multi-tenanted, meaning multiple clients on one database and a single instance of the software for all clients. We host Snapfulfil as a Single-tenanted solution which means that each Snapfulfil client has its own database and its own instance of the software, thereby ensuring maximum resilience. The Snapfulfil SaaS solution has also been designed and developed from the outset to embrace the latest in available Web technologies and is not just a ‘Scrape’ of a legacy solution delivered via Terminal Services or Citrix for example, which is often the position taken by the ‘Managed Service’ vendors.

So, in reality it matters little what it is called, it is what is behind it that matters.

WLN – How does Snapfulfil fit into your portfolio?

Snapfulfil is key, in that we believe SaaS solutions are the future of software and as a specialist WMS vendor, Snapfulfil significantly adds to the breadth of offerings we have to meet our clients demands. We of course have a number of customers on our more traditional Client/Server solutions, utilising ‘mature’ software that continue to underpin business critical operations, but I have to say Snapfulfil is sweeping all before it and all current enquiries are for Snapfulfil.

WLN – What is the commercial model for Snapfulfil?

We offer Snapfulfil as cost effective, no Capex business model, involving no up-front capital or software costs and no expensive computer infrastructure or IT overheads. Snapfulfil requires only a 12-month minimum contract, and in return you get a high performance system that would typically cost anything from £30,000 to £300,000 from a traditional vendor. As a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS WMS) model,  Snapfulfil will pay for itself the moment it is up and running, and will continue to generate net positive benefits every day it is used.

Remember with Snapfulfil you only pay when you go live.

WLN – What does the Snapfulfil package include?

The full package includes all the essential scanning hardware and RF infrastructure, real-time RF or voice terminals with bar code scanning, onsite installation, specification and software configuration as well as comprehensive training with a dedicated, user focused support service. All of this within the monthly user fee.

WLN – What business improvements does Snapfulfil deliver?

With Snapfulfil warehouse management software (WMS), picking and despatch efficiency will typically improve by 30%, order fulfilment time will be dramatically reduced, and your accuracy and customer service will be significantly enhanced. You can achieve all this, whilst maximising your inventory and resources at a monthly charge which, based on the returns you get, is effectively ‘self-funding’.

WLN – Can customers modify their Snapfulfil solutions as their business grows?

Future proofing is standard with Snapfulfil. Due to its SaaS nature, all software development and upgrades are automatically deployed to all users. Any client specific work can be switched on/off through configuration and should a particular client need something out of the ordinary, then our UK development team will specify, test and deploy the solution in to the clients ‘Test’ environment, for them to approve in quickly and efficiently. One of our clients needed to change their picking methodology, and Snapfulfil specified, tested and deployed this brand new approach in just 24 hours!

WLN – What is Snapfulfil like to use?

The best judges of this are our clients, the feedback that we get from our users is very positive, even enthusiastic. Built to be web deployed from Day One, it’s architected to make the best use of the browser. As many people are used to using the web for their day-to-day lives, picking up Snapfulfil is almost second nature.

WLN – Which people within an organisation is it aimed at?  Is there a limit to the amount of users in an organisation?

The core of the Snapfulfil system is aimed at the people who need it and use it, operational members of the Warehouse. The board like the savings and lack of capital required to deploy, but it’s the users that we really wrote Snapfulfil for. For interested parties external to the warehouse we have Reports, Management Dashboards and many different Portals to meet the information demands of the business. The only limit to the users is the licence. Snapfulfil is licensed on the number of users required, so if a business needs more users, they simply order more licences.

WLN – How soon can you deliver the system to customers?

We can have it up and running in 30 working days. People often look at us as if we are mad when we tell them this, but the proven methodology is there, We have deployed Snapfulfil in less time, but this is entirely down to the client. If they are ready to move quickly, then so are we. If they have work to do and want to take longer, than our project is configured to suit.

WLN – What existing IT resources do you need to run Snapfulfil?

Very little. One of the key features of the process is the very low impact on already over-stretched IT resources. Many of our clients do not have their own IT department at all, or if they do, it is someone with other roles to fulfil and no time at all to invest in a major software implementation. All we require is someone who understand the warehouse and some time to invest in working with our project team, we do the rest.

WLN – How quickly will you see these returns?

With many Snapfulfil clients, they have gone live in 6-8 weeks and have seen a return from the very moment they Go-Live!

WLN – When did you launch Snapfulfil? How has it been received so far? Who are the confirmed customers to date?

Snapfulfil was launched in mid 2007, with our first clients live in early 2008. Since then we have taken nearly 20 clients live, many of which we are still under NDA and unable to discuss with your good selves, but the diversity of client has been incredible, with clients in retail, manufacturing, Third Party Logistics, distribution and e-commerce, with turnovers from £250,000, to €2Bn and shipping from 20 orders a day, to 80,000!

WLN – How are you going about selling Snapfulfil? Are you selling it direct, or through resellers?

All of our Snapfulfil sales are direct. We are in discussions with prospective resellers in the Far East and Australia, but our focus has been the European and US markets and we prefer a direct relationship with our clients, if at all possible.

WLN – How big is the potential market for Snapfulfil in the UK?

I don’t have the precise numbers, but if anyone has a warehouse that has more than 3-4 operatives picking, packing and shipping items around the world, then we have a solution that can save you money.

WLN – What awards has Snapfulfil won? Have you won any awards for your other products?

Our most recent award was best Warehouse Management Software 2010, from the ITM, beating off stiff competition from some of the major players in the WMS market today. Synergy has won a number of awards over the years, but our greatest award is when a client renews their contract. Snapfulfil is offered on a 12 month contract, further demonstrating our confidence in the system and when we know that a client is so happy with their solution, that they renew, that is real praise from the people that count.

WLN – Finally, where do you see Snapfulfil going from here? Have you plans for more WMS solutions like this?

Well, you don’t really expect me to give away our secrets to you, do you? But rest assured, we have plans for much more and all I can say is “watch this space.”

Synergy Logistics Ltd   Tel: 0845 463 7627   www.snapfulfil.com

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