Westside Distribution, one of the UK’s most innovative and respected music dealers, has been growing like an end-of-gig crescendo on a C F Martin customised guitar since it was founded in 1995 with just three enthusiastic employees.
The Glasgow-based company run by managing director Phil Hay now has 30 employees, £6 million turnover, a major distribution base on Clydeside and a jumping showroom in London’s Denmark Street – universally known as Tin Pan Alley.
In Denmark Street, which has the largest concentration of music shops in Europe and was a magnet for nascent stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and David Bowie, Westside’s M1 showroom allows guitar players to experiment with the widest range of Dunlop Electronics possible.
In its Glasgow operation, it has some of the finest musical instrument and musical instrument equipment brands on the planet, including CF Martin, Nash Guitars MXR, Way Huge Electronics, Sigma Guitars, Cry Baby and Los Cabos.
But with growth as strong as Westside’s, critical partnerships with manufacturers and responsibility for sales, logistics, marketing and brand development and protection of products, it was increasingly important that Westside stayed on top of its business intelligence systems.
That was why, said Westside’s John McAndrew, the company turned to Eureka Solutions, the award-winning provider of business systems based in Lanarkshire, to provide a set-up which would allow the company to continue on its growth trajectory.
Like many fast developing companies, Westfield had graduated from Line 50 to Sage 200, but had reached a stage where effectively analysing its sales data from within Sage 200 was becoming an issue.
Eureka recommended QlikView, the market’s leading business discovery solution which is used by more than 26,000 organisations worldwide. It is in the forefront of a new generation of business intelligence tools that focus on providing self-service BI and empowers users to access the information they need to perform rather than relying on IT to create the reports for them.
Mr McAndrew said: “Ease-of-use and the ability to customise were foremost in our decision making. Although cost was a consideration we appreciated that the correct choice might not be a cheap one.
“We explored other BI systems, but the immediacy of Qlikview appealed. If I could knock up a rough layout of a report within hours of installing the standalone version of Qlikview, then I was confident that given a few weeks, I could create a report that would fulfil our existing and future requirements.”
With QlikView, data can be accessed from multiple sources, including Excel, MySQL, SAP Oracle, Sage and NetSuite, making it ideal for companies which employ multiple systems. It also allows analytics to be accessed from any location, using devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry, making it ideal for a highly mobile sales force.
Mr McAndrew said the benefits of the business intelligence system in terms of time saved, efficiency, return on investment and visibility were making themselves apparent all the time.
He said: “At the moment, we are mainly using Qlikview to report and react to sales trends and, although this benefit is difficult to quantify, the sales teams and company directors are now in the position to make decisions more quickly, based on immediately accessible, more accurate information.
“Going forward, we have just started using Qlikview to assist with product ordering, massively cutting down administration times.”
Like any successful company, Westside Distribution positions its customers and suppliers at the core of the business, making it as easy and fulfilling as possible for them to interact with the company and keep coming back.
Both customers and suppliers expected the company to “report back” with sales and stock information. Under the old set-up, this had been dealt with by one person and then returned to the customer or supplier.
QlikView meant that this bottle neck could now be removed and the information can now be returned in minutes.
The system also provided a significant competitive advantage. Mr McAndrew said: “The implementation of Qlikview provided us with the invaluable benefit of having up-to-date, accurate information available across a range of technologies, which gives us a clear advantage over our competitors.
“Sales managers are more likely to meet their targets if they have a clear and concise indicator of current progress, Customers are more likely to purchase if we can give them an instant, accurate delivery time for their orders.”
Westfield distribution integrates QlikView with Sage 200, Sage CRM and M.I. Store Epos Systems, as well as using Sage Reporting for business intelligence and reporting.