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Utopia Furniture Group has rolled out a 5 in 1 cloud-based system from BigChange that combines mobile apps including electronic POD and vehicle tracking, with customer relationship management system (CRM).

After the successful implementation of BigChange as a real-time transport management system, Utopia has now begun extending BigChange to improve back office and sales force automation.

Utopia is the UK’s biggest manufacturer of made-to-order bathrooms. Established for over 25 years and employing 190 people, Utopia designs and builds high quality bathroom suites, bathroom furniture and accessories, supplying through an extensive network of over 600 specially selected retailers across the UK and Ireland.

David Conn, MD of Utopia Furniture Group, comments:

“At Utopia, we found a niche in the market with fitted bathrooms and we have always strived to be the Master of what we do,”

“We have developed a unique build-to-order manufacture and logistics business and that requires us to innovate and invest when it comes to technology. It’s that technology that ensures we retain a competitive advantage.”

Utopia has developed a bespoke enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to underpin its growing business but needed to further automate logistics and especially the transport operation. BigChange was introduced initially to provide electronic Proof of Delivery (POD), having replaced their existing system.

Conn explains:

“When we discovered BigChange we realised that their technology was way ahead of anything else. What particularly appealed to us was the fact that they had an end-to-end solution that would provide seamless integration of our delivery services with our sales, manufacturing and business functions. Previously we suffered from having disconnected silos of data and that was frustrating. BigChange was also much more affordable so we did not hesitate to switch.”

Utopia drivers are equipped with Zebra ultra-rugged enterprise touch computers that run the BigChange JobWatch App that includes delivery and collection reporting, with line item fast scanning and electronic proof of delivery ePOD, timesheets, expenses and vehicle inspections. With a 28-strong fleet including drawer bar trailers and drop bodies, deliveries are made to retailers and trade customers across the UK from Utopia’s purpose-built manufacturing plant and HQ in Wolverhampton.

Conn adds:

“We really like the fact that BigChange is easy to customise,”

“It means you can get exactly what you want and that’s important in view of our fairly unique business process that involves literally thousands of different, often bespoke, items being loaded on each vehicle for delivery. BigChange offers a complete delivery consignment solution.”

BigChange has already been implemented to manage all transport related activities, provide real time tracking and electronic PODs, with vehicle inspections, driver performance monitoring and a link to route optimisation through comparing actual with planned journeys. With integration between Utopia’s delivery planning and Oracle ERP, BigChange CRM is now being implemented to manage the sales function.

Carl Darby, IT and CRM Controller at Utopia, says:

“BigChange CRM is perfect for us providing exactly the functionality we need. It’s a lot easier to use and less costly than other solutions,”

“Of course, it is also part of the wider BigChange management and mobile solution so has the added benefit of being seamlessly integrated with everything we do.”

With the adaptability and wide scope of the BigChange system, Utopia took advantage of help offered by BigChange for implementation and embedding.

Darby who also praised the ongoing support, continues:

“This suddenly made implementation much easier,”

Darby adds:

“The support provided by the BigChange ‘RoadCrew’ team has been exemplary, with someone always available to pick up the phone 24/7 and that support is available to anyone including our drivers. Getting that level of personal support is a rare thing these days.”

Conn explains:

“We set a high bar when it comes to our suppliers and for us it is very much about a working partnership. BigChange demonstrated that they wanted to be part of our business and from the start it was clear they were receptive to working with us. In fact, we were behind the development of their POD solution and were the first adopters of it.”

BigChange Utopia van

Housing Units, the award-winning home furnishings retailer, has implemented state-of-the-art mobile technology to improve its expanding home delivery operation.

The 5 in 1 system from BigChange provides mobile apps that connect to customer services to provide real-time visibility of delivery and installation operations.

The two-man delivery crews are equipped with rugged Samsung tablets running BigChange JobWatch mobile apps that are used for vehicle inspections, navigation and live reporting on job status with supporting photographs. Entirely cloud-based, the BigChange solution is used by Housing Units customer service operatives to monitor over 300 deliveries a week.

Housing Units celebrated 70 years in business last year and has bucked the trend with steady expansion and a successful business model that has been recognised through awards including the UK’s No 1 department store and retailer of the year. Headquartered in Oldham with an extensive store nearby, the company has just completed a £5m expansion of the store and distribution centre.

Housing Units sends optimised delivery routes to the BigChange job scheduler for access by drivers on login into their tablets. After completing a vehicle check using JobWatch, the device is clipped into a vehicle cradle to provide navigation to each delivery and then used again on arrival for risk assessment and job completion with a customer signature on screen.

With each delivery and installation, photographs are captured to provide a record of the completed job showing the location and condition of goods delivered. Special templates have been created in JobWatch for items that are prone to damage in transit – such as bathroom ceramics – that customers are asked to sign off as delivered undamaged.

Claire Wild, Distribution Administration Manager, Housing Units, Commented:

“BigChange really has made a big change to our customer service operation. Customers get text alerts reminding them of their agreed delivery time and with the tracking we can immediately contact them if we get delayed. Then we have a complete insight into the progress of every delivery job as it happens.”

Claire added:

“Crucially, the system provides undisputable evidence that the driver turned up at the agreed time and departed with all goods in place and undamaged. This is really important and it has led to a reduction in calls to customer services, allowing cases to be closed much quicker and has all but eliminated false claims.”

Deliveries take on average 18 minutes and Housing Units are using tracking data to compare schedules against actual journey and stop off times. Geofencing is also used to alert the office if vehicles are ‘off route’ and in danger of running late. JobWatch is also useful for contacting drivers with a messaging facility ensuring communication even when out of phone reception.

Claire continued:

“The customer services team rave about BigChange. It really has made their job easier as they are always fully informed on delivery activity and at each delivery location they can even click a button to access StreetView to see the situation outside the customers’ home. Handling customer calls is much easier and should disputes arise, they have all the information they need at their fingertips.”

Karl Shackley, Operations and Distribution Manager, commented:

“BigChange has certainly had a big impact on our business. As well as the gains in customer services, it has eliminated all sorts of paperwork improving efficiency. We reckon the productivity of the delivery operation has been increased by 20 per cent.”

BigChange housing units van

The UK’s leading bed manufacturer Silentnight has saved more than 400,000 litres of fuel in the last five years, cutting CO2 emissions by over 1,000,000 kilos as part of its sustainability drive.

The leading manufacturer identified an opportunity to enhance its delivery experience for both the independent retailer and the home-delivery customer and implemented the BigChange Transport and Delivery Management technology in 2013, before upgrading to the latest version in July last year. The move has now seen the business named as a finalist for a Technology and Innovation award at the prestigious Logistic Awards 2018.

From its state-of-the art factory in Barnoldswick, the Silentnight Group manufacturers over 500,000 beds per year and delivers direct to consumers, via a network of independent stores and through some of the UK’s leading furniture retailers.

The BigChange platform offers an all in one system combining back office delivery planning, a proof of delivery app for drivers, defect management and real time tracking, alongside paperless delivery which ties into the company’s wider sustainability agenda.

Robert Livingstone, Operations Director at Silentnight said:

“Our aim is to not only deliver the best night’s sleep for our trade and home delivery customers with market leading products, it’s also about ensuring we lead the market with our delivery service.

Robert Continued:

“The BigChange technology has ticked so many boxes for us; it’s driving tangible savings, transforming customer service and is a key part of our sustainability drive.”

Silentnight has prevented a staggering 105 million plastic bottles from going into oceans and landfill in just one year, after launching its Eco Comfort mattress manufactured from 150 plastic bottles. It has also pledged to support the Marine Conservation Society as part of its drive towards a greener planet.

The Logistic Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in the logistics and supply chain sectors, recognising the most impressive achievements throughout the industry over the past 12 months. The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 20 September at the Swan, Shakepeare’s Globe, London.

Bobst Lorry



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