Productivity and Growth with Epicor Eclipse

Headquartered in New Castle, Delaware, United Electric Supply is a nationally recognized, employee-owned, full-line electrical distributor founded in 1965. With 21 branches in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Northern Virginia, the company stocks over 23,000 different items from more than 250 major manufacturers, and offers a full range of electrical supplies, products and services in industrial automation, lighting, wire/cable/conduit, gear and control, data communications, electro-mechanical and energy solutions. United Electric has 340 employees and approximately $200 million in annual revenues.


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"Eclipse is a dominant solution in our industry… Epicor has a good roadmap; they are executing on the plan, and the features I see coming soon have real value to us….Epicor is feeding us changes to Eclipse even faster than we can implement them."

Rich Chadwick, Director of Organizational Improvement | United Electric Supply
Company Facts

Challenges
  • Provide a large, full-line electrical distributor with a scalable, industry-specific ERP solution that can handle growth

Solution
  • Epicor Eclipse

Benefits
  • Automated three regional distribution centers, increased accuracy, and saved 30% in manpower with use of RF warehouse system
  • Improved customer service with notifications between manufacturers and sales team
  • Supported additional locations with fewer employees
  • Stock margin gross profit percentage increased 12% year-over-year with Strategic Pricing Associates functionality

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Growth by design

After conducting a two-year search for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, United Electric selected Epicor Eclipse, based on other electrical distributors’ use of the system and its own requirement of a software solution that would be scalable for changing needs. “A technology provider has to be able to adapt to the industry’s future direction and tomorrow’s problems,” comments Chadwick. “The capability of the Epicor Eclipse software to expand and handle our company’s projected growth was critical.” United Electric Supply’s customers’ needs are as diverse as the products it stocks.

“In the nine years we have used Eclipse, various situations have popped up, usually involving customer requests that we do something unique and interesting to help them solve a problem out on a job site,” Chadwick explains. “I’ve been amazed that each time we are confronted with a situation we can look around in the Eclipse system and find a setting or an option we can use to go solve that problem.” Using Epicor Eclipse, United Electric is now operating at more locations, yet with fewer employees (e.g., reducing accounting staff headcount through retirement). “We all agree, we could not have done that on our old software package,” observes Chadwick.

Partnering for efficiency and accuracy

The company also automated three regional distribution centers with the Epicor Eclipse RF warehouse system. Chadwick states that it is “one of the best pieces of software I’ve ever worked with…it was amazing. And the RF guns in the warehouse are easy to use—we estimate that we saved 30 percent in manpower there, plus we increased our accuracy. It is very important that we not ship the wrong product to the customer—reducing that to the absolute minimum greatly benefits our reputation as a distributor.”

Another feature in its Eclipse system that has helped the company grow is the Strategic Pricing Associates function. “Pricing is a human problem out in the field about what’s the right price for a product, and after implementing the system almost a year ago our stock margin gross profit percentage increased by 12%,” Chadwick reports.

Epicor Eclipse has helped United Electric improve customer service in other ways, as well. For example, notifications from the system between manufacturers and sales via electronic data interchange (EDI) reduce surprises (such as changes in delivery schedules) to customers.

Continuous introduction of new features

Chadwick comments, “Epicor has a good roadmap. They are executing on the plan, and the features I see coming soon have real value to us… Epicor is feeding us changes to Eclipse even faster than we can implement them.” Some of these new features include:

  • Estimating outbound freight charges at time of order entry—“Historically, we lose money on this if we’re not charging it to the customer before the order is delivered and getting their agreement to pay,” says Chadwick. “Timeliness of the information is key.”
  • Product lifecycle support—“As old products we offer are sunsetted by the manufacturers, we can manage the inventory transition to new replacement products to satisfy our customers’ needs. Eclipse allows you to set up the system to accomplish that goal,” he states.

Achieving operational excellence

Chadwick and his team also rely on close communications with Epicor to support their Eclipse environment, which includes nearly all of its 340 employees. “Epicor will occasionally come down and study a particular problem with us so when they build a change to a particular product, it’s had a lot of input from users, so it’s been crafted to solve the problem.” For instance, without this connection a recent instant rebate program from a manufacturer that required input from the salesperson would be held up in processing the sale in order to be properly input. Eclipse has allowed United’s sales team to input the sale and process it much more quickly with various safeguards, as it requires pricing override. The best part, however, is the increased customer satisfaction. The company’s customer base now knows it can rely on United more than ever to quickly provide the right parts for a job. “We reached a point in our customer base that they say, ‘If United says they have it, they have it,’” Chadwick concludes.

Epicor solutions are designed around the unique operational needs of manufacturers and are available in the cloud or on premises. Customers can better manage complexity and focus on core growth activities.

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