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Stepping Up to the Cloud

The homes we live in. The offices we work from. The commercial and administration buildings we frequent. They are all built by tradespeople who depend on quality footwear and workwear to keep them safe, protected, and productive.

Since 1960, construction, special hazards, food, chemical protection, and glass industry workers in the UK have depended on family-owned Progressive Safety Footwear & Clothing Ltd. for hardwearing, style-conscious safety footwear, protective work wear, personal protective equipment (PPE), and workplace safety products.

Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud has given us the ability to better understand our business and adapt and scale rapidly.

Progressive Safety had a 25-year-old bespoke ERP system and was on the hunt for a replacement solution. A key criterion was data visibility and reporting to meet evolving production, operation, and distribution demands. Anna Topham, Operations Director at Progressive Safety remarked, “In support of a new digital strategy, we needed a cloud-based solution to support automation and data-driven decision-making goals. Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud has given us the ability to better understand our business and adapt and scale rapidly.”

Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud has delivered greater flexibility for Progressive Safety’s staff, enabling seamless productivity and access to information from the office, home or on the road. Topham noted, “Another crucial consideration was the security element. Epicor Prophet 21 provides the security and reliability of Microsoft Azure Cloud.”

New Efficiencies and Visibility

Epicor Prophet 21 has been particularly successful within operations and warehouse functions, driving efficiencies across key workflows.

“Our previous system was manual and paper-based which created the potential for missing data and disorganisation,” Topham revealed. “Epicor Prophet 21 enabled us to cut paper usage by at least 50%, and the handhelds have made processes automated, streamlined, and easier. Plus, the solution was operational earlier than I expected.”

Another example cited was in procurement: the processing of orders shifted from a manual process that created room for human error to a proactive, automated system. Epicor Prophet 21 has triggers that alert the purchasing team when to order and how much. Topham shared, “Not only is our process smoother and more accurate, but it’s improved the relationship between us and our suppliers.”

Progressive Safety has also significantly improved inventory visibility and control. “As a manufacturer, it’s always difficult to get your stock levels exactly right,” Topham explained. “Then the pandemic wreaked havoc—arrested sales, a faster-than-expected rebound, then another lockdown. Lead times expanded and contracted. Epicor Prophet 21 tells us exactly where the stock is.”

And now, with waning consumer confidence many retailers have excess stock. Epicor reports help guide Topham and his team to better understand the stock mix and to identify problem products and possible resolutions.

Smarter Insights, Smarter Decisions

“One primary reason for choosing Epicor Prophet 21 was that it offered the data we need to help shape and direct the business,” Topham recalled. As an example, customer service did not always capture complete data. With Epicor prompts, accurate data is gathered, resulting in relevant, useful reporting. Daily, weekly and monthly reports enable the team to proactively manage key functions to prevent issues from becoming bigger problems.

Reporting has also been key to enhancing the customer experience. Topham highlighted, “Today, regardless of industry, everything is about the customer experience. One of Progressive Safety’s differentiators is the customer experience we provide. Epicor Prophet 21 has helped amplify that.” Insights from the system permit Topham, the sales and finance teams to drill down to customer, product, and category levels. This helps them understand how they are performing against targets and the prior year and equips them with information to determine how to adjust.

For instance, Progressive Safety has improved back-order management. Topham disclosed, “We’ve been able to identify problem areas, reduce back-orders, enhance the customer interaction and have more meaningful conversations with our vendors.”

A segment of the business targeted for growth is decorated garments—workwear customized with a logo or badge. With the prior system, tracking order status was challenging. Now, Epicor Prophet 21 gives employees visibility to order status and to easily make decisions about required resources. Topham divulged, “Data has been an eye-opener and prompted a full review of how that business is structured and how we move forward. For example, we discovered that we didn’t have a great handle on our lead times, and they were often too long. The process was too people-heavy and too costly. We made the call to purchase machinery to support the operation, an up-front investment but with a significant ROI. The move will improve the quality of product to customers, cut lead times by half on average, and save money. Plus, it allows us to scale up our operation, which is what we want to do.”

Connecting with Customers

Another key component of Topham’s digital transformation strategy was to deploy Epicor Commerce Connect to enable customers to place orders directly via the Progressive Safety website. The feature-rich website launched, and Topham is in the process of moving to a mature self-service model: “The end-game goal is to move from 98% of orders manually inputted, to the 30% to 35% range.” She continued, “We've got some serious growth plans for our website.”

We did our due diligence, considered solutions including Oracle NetSuite, SAP Business One and Sage 200, but Epicor Prophet 21 really stood out. The company not only offers unrivalled industry expertise, but a modern, cloud platform designed specifically for distributors, with website integration and development features catering to our specific business needs. I would most certainly recommend it.

Epicor Commerce Connect has also created a more robust customer contact database. Topham elaborated, “Our contacts had old and incomplete data. With Epicor Commerce Connect, we've got a robust contact data list which means we can market much more effectively.”

Attract and Retain Top Talent

With some employees working on the legacy system for a quarter of a century, resistance to change was expected. Topham observed, “Some of those employees adopted Epicor more quickly than expected. I think that’s because when they start to use it, they like what they see and recognize the benefits. Epicor Prophet 21 is supporting their roles and their work has become more enjoyable to them.”

Epicor has also been a hook for new hires with Topham admitting, “We recently attracted a new hire from one of our competitors. Without Epicor Prophet 21 as a cornerstone of our digital strategy, it would have been difficult for us to attract that person.”

Topham summarised, “We did our due diligence, considered solutions including Oracle NetSuite, SAP Business One and Sage 200, but Epicor Prophet 21 really stood out. The company not only offers unrivalled industry expertise, but a modern, cloud platform designed specifically for distributors, with website integration and development features catering to our specific business needs. I would most certainly recommend it.”

Ever since John Topham established the business in 1960, Progressive Safety have remained a family-owned business, trading for over 63 years, with now a third-generation family member leading the business. Whilst keen to retain their core values, they needed to adapt to grow and future-proof the business for the next 60 years. They saw the value of Epicor Prophet 21, and Epicor as their technology partner.

Company Facts

  • Location: Sheffield, UK
  • Specialist Industry: Apparel Distribution
  • Website: www.psf.co.uk

Challenges

  • Poor data quality, visibility, and access
  • Inefficient operational processes
  • Inadequate inventory control and flexibility

Benefits

  • Data-driven decision-making improved key processes
  • Cut lead times in half
  • Slashed paper usage by 50%+
  • Accelerated self-service e-Commerce

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