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5 trends disrupting the traditional wholesale distribution model

Multichannel Distribution Specialists

Integrating Wholesale Distribution alongside In-Store, Online and Machine-to-Machine to let today's multichannel businesses increase efficiency and reduce costs while achieving flexible and agile control of the supply chain.

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Archive for 2012

Iconic British model maker Hornby brings Humbrol paint manufacturing back home

20th December 2012

Enamel paints to be produced in North West London

Somewhat less popular today than it used to be, it is a matter of some nostalgia that generations of Britain’s youngsters have grown up making plastic model kits. In the age before computer gaming and dawn-to-dusk children’s TV channels, a staple past time was building Airfix or Revell models. The paint brand that was used to finish the models off is truly a British icon - Humbrol.

Humbrol brand owner, the equally iconic model train brand Hornby, packed manufacturing of the enamel paints off to China 10 years ago. But now it’s coming back to the UK. Established in 1924, small British family-run firm Rustins is to produce the entire Humbrol range of finishing products in North West London.

Rustins trumped competitors in China and India

Hornby chief executive, Frank Martin, said the upheaval was sparked by the rising costs of labour in China, which he said trebled in the last seven years and are set to double again in the next decade. He also emphasised how Rustins trumped competitors in China and India by saying: “In the end they could give us the best combination of price, quality, and speed of service.”

Hornby is an example of a brand owner with a geographically diversified supply chain. Humbrol adhesives are made in India, where production also moved from China recently, and its acrylic spray paints are made in Manchester. Hornby’s model manufacturing operations remain in China where they are more cost-effective.

Diversification of the manufacturing base

This diversification across the manufacturing base is a strategy that many organisations may see as highly desirable; placing all the manufacturing eggs in one basket, such as China, exposes the supply chain to risk. Hornby itself was recently dogged with supply chain issues caused by its main model production facility in China, leading the company to issue a profit warning in September, citing “substantial” disruptions.

Mr Martin also said: “There are certain things now which have become viable to manufacture in the UK where five years ago might not have been. It is no longer automatically cheaper to look overseas. The more we can manufacture in the UK, the more we will do so.” Diversify your supply chain with NetSuite If you operate in the wholesale and distribution sector then you might want to diversify your supply chain. Using NetSuite ERP to manage your supply chain end-to-end across various product ranges and lines enables you to monitor increases in TLCs (Total Landed Costs) that erode your margins. However your supply chain is configured, NetSuite provides the insight you need to take control of your supply chain strategy. BlueBridge One custom implements NetSuite to meet the specific needs of each customer. As one of only two UK Three Star Award winners, NetSuite recognises our expertise and commitment to delivering customer value from NetSuite ERP. Click this link to register with BlueBridge One for a FREE 14 day trial of NetSuite.

Follow this link to see ‘Hornby model paint production exits China as costs soar’ at telegraph.co.uk.

What can I expect from SuiteCommerce?

18th December 2012

I often get asked about StuiteCommerce so I thought I put together a short summary of the information available so far.

SuiteCommerce is the new NetSuite edition with many enhancements on the eCommerce side of the NetSuite platform.

There will be a new SuiteCommerce enterprise edition at the same time as many SuiteCommerce features being made available on existing SiteBuilder sites. The planned launch is stated by NetSuite to be part of 2013.1 release normally during Feb-March.

SuiteCommerce enterprise is built on completely new technology and will have improved performance. However we have been told that many of the SuiteCommerce features will also be made available on existing SiteBuilder websites.

One of the new features is one-page checkout, which is currently available in BETA version free of charge. However since it is still in BETA there can be some limitations that need to be tested based on individual website needs.

SuiteCommerce main new features at a glance

  • Site Navigation/Search: Faceted navigation for filtering of product and categories. Robust search on any product field or description. Fuzzy search matches on similar words/synonyms. Faceted navigation for filtering of search results
  • One-page checkout: Flexible checkout process can be changed to be any number of steps, all on the same page. Furthermore you will have full control over the design and appearance of the checkout.
  • Commerce Everywhere: Using technologies such as responsive design to adopt elements on the page dependent on the device it is viewed on. This ensures your website adopts well to different devices such as smartphones and tables.
  • Promotions and Pricing: Multiple price lists. Customer/segment based pricing. Various types of promotions/discounts/coupons. Pricing rules to specify sites, stores, customers, products and categories.
  • B2B Commerce: Invoicing and credit based payment processes.
  • Improved Performance: The new SuiteCommerce Enterprise edition is developed on an entirely new technology and as such will be faster in performance both in terms of page load and dynamic content changes.
  • My Account section: My Account pages (Customer centre) can be fully designed to any appearance you like.

More information: http://www.netsuite.com/portal/products/commerce/features.shtml

About the Author: Ashkan Parsa is the eCommerce Manager at BlueBridge One. Ashkan has been managing NetSuite eCommerce projects for the past 5 years. In his free time Ashkan runs a gadget blog and plays tennis. 

Local manufacturing is the clear route to reviving the UK economy

12th December 2012

Frilly knickers reviving flagging UK economy!?

Central to the issues of reviving the UK economy and job creation is the need to repatriate manufacturing activity to the UK. In macroeconomic speak, we need to increase economic output. And we need something to output. Would you believe frilly knickers are leading the way?

On the day of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, 5th December, Channel 4 News broadcast live from the shop floor of Headen & Quarmby a long established women’s nightwear manufacturer in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Demand for the company’s ‘Kinky Knickers’ range has been boosted since appearing on retail queen Mary Portas’ show ‘The Bottom Line’.

Responding to Jon Snow’s opening remarks MD David Moore commented on the company importing 40 manufacturing jobs back from China: “The industry itself could create hundreds. Ourselves, we want a rapid expansion of growth. Our customers want it. There’s a public hunger and appetite for the product we’re producing. The sky’s the limit as far as we’re concerned.”

Apple to manufacture iMacs in the US in 2013

The following day, US broadcaster ABC News ran a similar story on the local manufacture of something which for some, anyway, will seem far less exciting. Tech darlings Apple are to invest $100 million in a move that will see the company’s iMac computers manufactured in the US (not just assembled) in 2013.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs successor said: "I think no one is looking at this as deeply as we are or going as deep in the supply chain. We're back to the mines. We're going all the way, not just at the first layer. And in addition to that, we've chosen to be incredibly transparent with it. I invite everyone to copy us."

Monitor the situation with NetSuite and BlueBridge One

Not every business, like Headen & Quarmby, can enjoy a lucky break as a result of a TV show and it is beyond the capability of most businesses to be able to go “back to the mines,” like Apple. It may not suit every business to bring manufacturing back to the UK; however, with out access to the right data how are you going to know?

NetSuite’s cloud based ERP solution lets wholesale & distribution businesses decide if local manufacturing is viable for their business. Comprehensive end-to-end reporting across the supply chain keeps you on top of things in real time.

It might be that the time is not quite yet right to pursue a local manufacturing strategy. With NetSuite you can monitor the situation as it changes - monthly, weekly or at any interval you choose - to spot the tipping point.

As a leading NetSuite UK solution provider, BlueBridge One custom implements ERP to meet the needs of each individual customer business. The ERP solution can be deployed as a combination that includes CRM to drive and integrate sales force activity and the recently updated e-commerce engine SuiteCommerce to provide online shopping capability.

Why not take a FREE 14 day trial of NetSuite? It’s all online so there’s no software to download and conflict with your existing systems. Please click here to register for the trial.

Click here to see the report ‘Apple To Start Making Some Mac Computers in America in 2013’ at ABC NEWS > Tech This Out.

NetSuite ERP custom implemented by BlueBridge One provides the flexibility to reorganise your business and take advantage of emerging trends before your competitors can.

NetSuite Wholesale Distribution Edition is the only cloud-based integrated business suite that focuses on your needs

23rd November 2012

Everything for wholesale and distribution in one application

NetSuite Wholesale Distribution Edition packages all the tools that wholesale distributors need into one convenient integrated application. Quite simply no other ERP solution provides such comprehensive support for the business processes of wholesale and distribution businesses and offers the best value by leveraging the benefits of the cloud.

End-to-end business process management

If we look at the end-to-end business process in wholesale and distribution then for many companies it looks like this:

Market > Sell > Order > Ship > Bill > Cash Management to General Ledger > Maintain > Support > Upsell/Reorder

NetSuite manages this lifecycle from one end to the other, and importantly it hands over seamlessly from one step to the next. This eliminates errors that may occur when using a manual approach while increasing speed and efficiency through automation.

Convert leads to orders, orders to shipments and shipments to revenue

One section of this lifecycle that really demonstrates the benefit of NetSuite is Sell > Order > Ship. Within the application NetSuite streamlines and simplifies this section of the end-to-end process. NetSuite automates and streamlines this by converting leads to orders, orders to shipments and shipments to revenue. Before this in the process lifecycle, NetSuite provides ecommerce and SFA (Sales Force Automation) capabilities to drive sales and marketing.

The other key benefits include the ability to monitor and manage your business; gain a real-time, 360-degree view of your customers; grow revenues, enter new markets and improve channel partner engagement and manage webstores and online business. Delivering NetSuite from the cloud means cost savings and fast ROI from reduced IT infrastructure and rapid time to market.

BlueBridge One custom fits NetSuite for wholesale distribution

BlueBridge One specialises in the wholesale and distribution market. Our extensive experience of the sector means that we are able to quickly get up to speed with your specific needs. As one of only 2 NetSuite 3 Star Award winners in the UK, NetSuite recognises our ability to tailor the solution to help customers obtain the full benefit. Why not contact us today to discuss your needs in detail?

Outcome of US election 2012 strongly influenced by jobs and supply chain issue

9th November 2012

US has 25% of China’s population but double the GDP

Despite the rapid growth of BRIC countries and the shift of economic power to the Far East, the US is still an important player in the global economy. Behind China and India the US remains the world’s third most populous nation, even if it does trail in someway behind with around 315 million people - about 25% of the Chinese total; however, rated by four key authorities, US economic output is the world’s highest with double the GDP of China.

This week’s US election was a close run thing. When all the stats are confirmed only around 2% of the popular vote (those cast by ordinary voters) will separate the candidates. With many states predictably aligned as either Democrat or Republican the result of the election remains in the hands of a small number of swing states. Ohio is seen as something of a bell-weather state, as now, for the last 13 elections, it has been on the side of the winner.

Jobs and supply chain a central issue

Jobs occupy a pivotal role in determining prosperity and the supply chain is a central issue. Some political commentators identify that Ohio voted to re-elect President Obama because of Governor Romney’s gaffes over job issues. Early in the campaign the Governor criticised the Obama administration’s bail out of US motor manufacturing. He also used the phrase “build Jeeps in China” as an allusion to job losses at Chrysler plants in Ohio, which was a misrepresentation of the facts.

Like the UK the US has transitioned into a knowledge economy where professional, business, media, scientific and engineering jobs employ almost one-third of the working population. At the same time globalisation has seen manufacturing jobs migrate to lower cost labour economies, leaving just 6.5% of Americans involved in directly producing products.

If you are the government then this raises a question over the wisdom of letting manufacturing jobs move to lower labour cost economies; however, if you operate a supply chain in a cost sensitive and competitive sector, then it is simply a business decision.

See if you can support local jobs with NetSuite

In an uncertain economic climate wholesale distribution businesses need to support national employment, but in order to remain competitive and profitable they must also configure their supply chains as necessary. NetSuite helps you see if the needs of your business align with the need to support local jobs. Your business may be able to better configure its supply chain to support job creation in the UK, but to see if this works for you the business needs accurate real-time information.

NetSuite's OneWorld business management suite, implemented by BlueBridge One offers growing and mid-size global organisations clarity of vision across all its business to remain competitive and profitable. NetSuite is cloud based offering the benefits of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach with much lower costs than legacy on-premise ERP systems which require significant capital investment. BlueBridge One works with customers to optimise and configure NetSuite to meet their needs.

NetSuite OneWorld solution implemented by BlueBridge One lets home based growing and mid-size global organisations support local jobs by managing a global supply-chain, a supply chain issue that strongly influenced the US election.

KPMG partner suggests cloud technology solution to ‘fast fashion’ pressure on supply chain

23rd October 2012

Retail sales down 0.4% YOY to August

In a recent news release from KPMG, partner Andrew Underwood provided some interesting advice for those operating wholesale distribution supply chains. With retail sales values down 0.4% YOY to August 2012, the pressure on the High Street is relentless. Fashion has always been highly seasonal, but as we continue to experience very difficult trading conditions the advent of ‘fast fashion’ has raised the stakes, especially for those with fashion retail as the end point.

Real-time monitoring and cloud technology

Andrew Underwood said, “For far too long lip service is the most that has been paid to the importance of real-time monitoring, but if anything is clear, it is that the retailers who make use of cloud technology to instantly bring together information from every corner of the supply chain, will be in a better position to manage demand.”

In step with BlueBridege One and NetSuite

With KPMG a global provider of Audit, Tax and Advisory services, Andrew Underwood’s opinion is hard to ignore. His assertion is also completely in step with the core benefits of NetSuite ERP. NetSuite is cloud-based and wraps in the cost and efficiency benefits inherent in the SaaS business model of software delivery. It provides real-time information gathering and reporting capabilities. This helps those operating wholesale distribution supply chains to achieve greater agility, better efficiency and more rapid adaptability to changing market conditions and trends such as ‘fast fashion’. Unlike off the peg solutions, NetSuite is custom fitted by BlueBridge One so that the benefits are optimised to meet the needs of each customer. Why not find out for yourself? Click here to register for BlueBridge One’s FREE 14 day trial.

Click here to take a look at the news release on KPMG’s website.

Foxconn iPhone 5 worker disputes shine a light on unsustainable low cost labour strategies

16th October 2012

Foxconn and iPhone 5 dates and numbers

Some 3 weeks after the launch of Apple iPhone 5 the dust is settling, even as worker discontent is kicking up a storm. Tracking the story’s key dates throws up some huge numbers that reveal the scale of Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn’s operations:

  • Friday 21 September - the global launch of iPhone 5, with 5 million units moved in 3 days
  • Sunday 23 September, at around 11PM - a 4 hour riot at the Foxconn plant in Taiyuan by 2,000 out of the workforce of 78,000, which makes small quantities of iPhone 5 cases
  • Friday 05 October - up to 4,000 out of 120,000 workers walked out on strike at the Zhengzhou Technology Park ‘factory city’, after uplifted iPhone 5 quality control standards provoked worker unrest which management ignored

These events had relatively little or no impact on iPhone 5 production. Foxconn’s China operations are truly resilient, spread over 13 plants and employing a total of around 1.2 million workers.

Upsurge of worker unrest in China

These events highlight an upsurge of labour disputes across China since May; without the launch of iPhone 5, this may have gone largely unnoticed by many in the developed world. The underlying issue is one of low-cost labour; ramping up for iPhone 5 production is alleged to have led to excessive demands to work overtime and students being used as ‘interns’. Around 5% of the retail price of electronics and other consumer goods produced in China are believed to be labour costs.

Reports at the FT.com say: “Analysts said the violence demonstrated that Apple and Foxconn’s reliance on low-cost labour was unsustainable, despite production changes made after a series of suicides in 2009.” Escalations in poor labour relations and the resulting disruptions to manufacturing schedules and targets may disrupt the supply chain; however, the commentary from those looking at the social and political significance for China believe it is a good thing - ultimately China’s workers will gain better pay and conditions.

Prepare and keep in step with change with NetSuite

Rising labour costs present problems for supply chain managers, as does disrupted manufacturing. Foxconn, which assembles around 40% of all consumer electronic products in the world, has operations in 9 countries on 3 continents. It has just announced a £300 million investment in Brazil, creating 10,000 jobs. Although this is dwarfed by its capacity in China, it shows that it is preparing for change by increasing capacity elsewhere, even if labour costs in Brazil are 7x higher.

Where ever the far end of your supply chain is anchored, worker unrest that puts upward pressure on labour costs inevitably impacts the TLC (Total Landed Cost) and lead times of wholesale goods. In order to keep in step with change, supply chain managers need access to real time information to make timely decisions. How quickly could your business assess the impact of a 7x increase in labour costs?

NetSuite cloud-based ERP enables you to assess the different variables that impact your profitability and optimise your wholesale distribution business. BlueBridge One is one of only two UK service providers to win a NetSuite 3 Star Award. Click here to see some of the source reportage for this blog from FT.com. Click here to register with us now for a 14 day FREE trial.

Click here to see some of the source reportage for this blog from FT.com.

After China, where next for the far end of the global supply chain?

17th September 2012

The signs are there…

…increasing levels of Chinese coal stocks …the brakes on in Australia’s resources boom - in particular, the reduced demand for iron-ore… Falling demand for raw materials and energy do not tell a lie. China is slowing down.

China’s recently developed middle-class consumer led economy provides a number of indicators that the global supply chain may have to look elsewhere for a powerhouse manufacturer.

Growing wage demands, labour shortages and inflation all mean China’s manufacturing juggernaut is looking less attractive to those running supply chains with a far end in China. This forces wholesale distribution businesses which have been attracted to China to seek manufacturing services elsewhere.

Replacing China as the far end of the supply chain

If there is a ‘direct replacement’ for China, out of the remaining BRIC economies, India seems to be a likely candidate given its huge population and low labour costs. However it seems unlikely that China can be unplugged and India slotted in ‘just like that’. One barrier that may retard the process is that India’s democracy is probably not as suited to facilitating wide scale industrialisation as China’s one-party system.

U.S. Dept of Labor statistics released at the end of 2011 are a little patchy and acknowledge that it is difficult to draw direct comparisons between labour compensation rates in different countries. However they do seem to indicate that Brazil’s manufacturing labour costs appear to be over 7x that of China.

In the absence a direct ‘plug-in’ replacement for China, it seems that the global supply chain will need to diversify its far end points base, relying less on China and sharing contracts around other developing economies that have been trailing in China’s wake for the past decade.

The Philippines and India are the two lowest cost labour markets in the data, however using the lowest cost labour may not always translate into the lowest total landed cost (TLC) for goods. Getting total visibility on the many other factors that influence TLC mean that every wholesale distributor must have access to real time information from across its supply chain if it is to operate efficiently and not bleed profit.

NetSuite enables you to see where next after China

NetSuite ERP provides fingertip access to the real-time information every supply chain manager needs to maximise efficiency and profitability. Leveraging cloud computing means that all managers, anywhere in the world can get access to the data they need to make the decisions that matter. NetSuite enables you to analyse and assess which region or territory best suits your business. It could it be that now is the perfect time to bring it on home and repatriate your manufacturing to the UK. We can help you find out. Why not click here and register for a 14-day FREE trial of NetSuite with BlueBridge One?

Effectively execute your supply chain optimisation strategies with NetSuite

3rd September 2012

Winning during a recession

As uncertainty continues to dominate the economy at the moment, for many distribution operations, winning during a recession is about optimising business processes. Generally optimisation is about improving efficiency, and for most operating supply chains, this will be about maximising profit through preventing the erosion of margin. Key elements in such a strategy are to:

  • Avoid overstocking and follow a just in time approach
  • Ensure the lowest production costs

NetSuite is the correct technology tool

In today’s world, executing such a strategy may be easier said than done; the functions of wholesale distributors are complicated by issues such as rising labour, material and fuel costs; compliance, the environment and ethics. The impact of these issues is exacerbated if you do not have the correct technology tools. Outmoded, on-premise ERP solutions are no match for NetSuite’s up-to-date, cloud-based ERP solution.

Managing inventory and ensuring that restocking is actioned in a timely fashion is next to impossible without access to accurate real-time business intelligence. Similarly it is impossible to ensure the lowest landed cost if there is poor visibility of the cost of production.

Real-time business intelligence and end-to-end visibility

NetSuite provides real-time business intelligence and end-to-end visibility of costs, ensuring that wholesale distributors are able to effectively execute supply chain optimisation strategies.

BlueBridge One is one of only two NetSuite 3 Star Award holders out of 46 NetSuite solution providers across the EMEA region. We have been recognised as an outstanding provider of NetSuite ERP solutions custom fitted to the individual requirements of each customer organisation. Click this link to see why BlueBridge One Services and Support make us the right NetSuite solution provider.

Effective ERP on tablets with NetSuite

16th August 2012

ERP vendors failed to understand

In an interview with Spandas Lui from ZDNet published on 10 August 2012, Gartner enterprise software research director Nigel Montgomery has voiced the opinion that ERP vendors and tablet manufacturers have failed to understand how to effectively bring ERP onto mobile devices.

Gartner failing to understand?

This criticism seems tied to the fact that many ERP suites are designed as on-premise solutions. Such solutions often require local resources or client software to run the application. Taking an on-premise ERP application and porting it to mobile users on tablet devices does not lend itself easily to providing a consistent user experience.

ERP systems are complex multi-functional software applications. Switching between a client application and browser tends to offer users inconsistent experiences. This may create confusion and cause users to make errors.

It may be that reportage is limited or the comments taken out of context, but it seems that Gartner is failing to understand NetSuite is not an on-premise solution ported to mobile.

NetSuite is mobile native

NetSuite is truly mobile native in two respects:

  • NetSuite is easy to use on a touch screen tablet because full functionality is accessed through a standard browser, independent of operating system or browser preference. Users never have to switch between a client application and a browser interface. It is always accessed through a browser.
  • NetSuite is perfectly suited for use on browser enabled mobile computing platforms because it is cloud-based. The application is available whenever users have an internet connection. There are no on-premise infrastructure costs or management overheads.

This means NetSuite makes for an excellent mobile user experience while providing the flexibility that today’s mid-market wholesale distribution businesses need to operate efficiently.

BlueBridge One is one of only two UK 3 Star NetSuite solution providers. Click this link to submit a request for BlueBridge One to contact you.

To see the report ‘Mobile ERP misses the mark: Gartner’ by Spandas Lui from ZDNet published on 10 August 2012 click this link.

SaaS businesses like to ‘eat’ NetSuite cloud-based ERP

3rd August 2012

Dog food has never tasted so good!

Unsavoury as it may sound, it seems that dog food has never tasted so good. ‘Eating your own dog food’ - AKA ‘dogfooding’ - is a term used to describe the practice where a business uses its own products within its operations and processes. The product must be used within the business to truly qualify; if the people at Pedigree Chum banned the consumption of Winalot products in its offices, it would not count as dogfooding!

Compelling reasons why SaaS businesses like to eat each other’s dog food

Many SaaS (software as a service) companies, those that host and deliver software services to customers from the cloud, seem to have developed a preference for NetSuite ERP. Now it’s true that many SaaS companies share similar business models, similar software expertise and perhaps revel in the superior value that their customers derive compared with equivalent on-premise solutions.

In some ways it may seem that they are ‘kindred spirits’ on some level. However it would be wrong to think that a sense of loyalty is driving this preference; the fact is that there are compelling business reasons why SaaS companies eat each other’s dog food.

Advantages of NetSuite are well suited to SaaS businesses

Firstly SaaS businesses are well tuned to the benefits of SaaS software so will tend to look at other SaaS providers over traditional on premise solutions.

Before you even consider the efficiency advantages of NetSuite as an ERP solution over its on-premise competitors, there are some critical advantages that it shares with other SaaS solutions. Three of these include:

  • Supports no bricks companies or those with a small footprint HQ that have remote workers
  • Supports operations and expansion into international territories by minimising the need for local infrastructure and services
  • 24/7 service with better than 99.9% availability lets employees work anywhere in the world connected to the internet at anytime

BlueBridge On is a Three Star UK NetSuite consultancy

BlueBridge One is one of only two Three Star service providers in the UK that puts NetSuite to work, helping customers obtain competitive advantage. Whether operating no bricks companies, or opening up and expanding international operations across time zones, BlueBridge One ERP helps UK companies to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of doing business with NetSuite.

Click this link to get pricing for NetSuite

Sustainable business, ethics and the supply chain

18th July 2012

Reputation vulnerable to supply chain issues

Some of the largest brands have to manage their image and armies of PR people are employed to ensure good press relations and protect reputations. Supply chain issues are among the most important as they have the potential to make very damaging headlines; stories of worker exploitation, especially those involving child labour play very poorly in the developed world.

Mid-market cannot escape sustainability and ethics issues

Sustainable business and ethical practice is not only something for major brands to think about. Sustainability and ethics are important issues from which mid-market wholesale distribution businesses cannot escape. Clothing and fashion is one area where many brands have found themselves the subject of unwelcome ‘sweatshop’ stories, but tech companies Apple and Foxconn were in the spotlight earlier this year.

For many, such stories conjure up an image of ‘third world’ economies where workers are living on ‘less than a dollar a day’. However this is a stilted view; it is not just about low pay and poverty. Some relatively well developed economies with improving standards of pay and conditions face many sustainability and ethics issues.

Life-work balance and the quality of life of workers and dependents is becoming an issue, much the same as it is in western developed economies. In China, for example, it is believed that at least 50 million children are separated from parents by economic migration from rural districts to city factories. Timberland is one major brand that is working to address such issues on the ground in China.

BlueBridge One with NetSuite helps identify issues

Reputational damage doesn’t just affect big brands or a single company. Reputational damage is a contagion that may spread into the business ecosystem of related companies - customer as well as supply-side, big and small.

In a world where sustainability and ethics cannot be ignored, it is essential for mid-market wholesale distribution businesses to obtain an end-to-end view across the supply chain. NetSuite enables you to analyse your supply-side to see if costs are in keeping with sustainable and ethical business practices. BlueBridge One works to understand customer businesses so that NetSuite is fitted to your specific needs.

To see what NetSuite can do for your business, register with BlueBridge One for a free 14-day trial. There’s no software to install so there’s no conflict with existing systems.

Click here to go to The Guardian’s site to see more about how Timberland is promoting ethical standards in China and India.

The NetSuite Hairball Institute for Business cures the problem that may be choking your enterprise

25th June 2012

The need for data exchange…

Businesses tend to grow organically, adding capability as required, frequently acquiring new business software applications and the hardware on which to run them as the need arises. Many frequently seek to exchange data between two applications. Middleware may be needed to enable information pathways or hardware and databases upgraded or modified.

…creates Software Hairball Syndrome

In repeating this process across many applications, each with its own silo of data, businesses create highly complex relationships between each system. However this attempt to release efficiency and unlock business intelligence inadvertently creates a tangled integration that functions so poorly it actually chokes business. This is what NetSuite calls Software Hairball Syndrome, SHS.

BlueBridge One cures it with NetSuite

BlueBridge One recommends NetSuite cloud-based ERP software as the cure for SHS. BlueBridge One helps wholesale distribution companies diagnose and cure the problem. This removes unwanted hairballs that limit business efficiency and restrict the access to business intelligence from across mid-sized enterprises.

To help you understand more, sign up for a free 14 day trial of NetSuite with BlueBridge One, sign up for a free 14 day trial of NetSuite with BlueBridge One from NetSuite or sign up for a free 14 day trial of NetSuite with BlueBridge One.

NetSuite helps safeguard against supply chain fraud

21st June 2012

The prosecution of a former senior executive at Lloyds TSB Banking Group holds deep resonances for those in supply chain management. Jessica Harper, a former head of digital banking fraud and security at the group, is alleged to have abused her position for over three years to submit false invoices totalling £2.46 million.

The reasons for employee fraud and theft vary; such fraudsters may be personally motivated to cover debt or, as is alleged in Ms Harper’s case, to provide gains to her family with property purchases. Some do it out of habit, others because of a sense of entitlement; others still out of disgruntlement over pay and conditions.

The allegations which involved the submission of false business invoices to claim payments expose the vulnerability of organisations of all types to fraud originating inside the business at a senior level. This aside, another troubling aspect of the case is that the alleged fraud ran for over three years and was only identified after a tip off.

It would seem safe to assume that a multi-billion pound banking group should have embedded systems of the highest class and a belt-and-braces approach to all aspects of supply chain management including invoice sign-off and processing. Although we are on the outside looking in, logic dictates that poor reporting and analytics features prominently in the alleged fraud remaining undetected.

Fraud of such magnitude may only be possible in a large cash-rich organisation and few businesses are more awash with cash than a bank! However, if your mid-market wholesale distribution business was the victim of a more modest but similar fraud how confident are you that you could detect it?

NetSuite cloud-based ERP custom fitted to the needs of your business provides comprehensive reporting and analytics that enable help you to identify any areas for concern. These might be erosion of margin or incorrect landed cost pricing. It might also be a fictitious supplier of imaginary widgets hiding in the system, skimming off a modest amount regularly…

Without detailed reports from across the whole of the business that NetSuite provides, it can be difficult to stay on top in wholesale distribution. The rapid tempo of business and fast changing operating environment place a strong emphasis on the need for real time information to assist informed management decision making. Tough economic times may tempt highly trusted employees into dishonesty. Why not improve you ability to detect fraud? Click here to request BlueBridge One contact you about NetSuite.

View from the floor of the NetSuite community at SuiteWorld 2012

6th June 2012

SuiteWorld 2012, NetSuite’s sell out annual customer conference took place between 14th and 17th May in San Francisco.

The NetSuite community of customers, users, partners, media and industry analysts took advantage of keynotes, special events and over 100 breakout sessions over the four days to learn, explore and provide input that helps to shape the future of NetSuite cloud-based ERP solutions. As an overview, there were key areas of focus.

Highlights here focus on accelerating benefits and productivity across various verticals including:

  • Accelerating Services – with new project dashboard
  • Accelerating Software – with new revenue recognition rules, including revenue as a service
  • Accelerating Manufacturing – with ABC cycle counting, engineering change management, WIP inventory accounting and production routing
  • Accelerating Wholesale Distribution – with multiple changes to improve supply chain visibility and business intelligence
  • Accelerating Ecommerce – with multiple changes to improve the customer interface and user experience
  • Accelerating the Enterprise – with improved MS Outlook and connection of customers to multiple operational locations
  • Accelerating SuiteCloud – with multiple changes to improve functionality and efficiency of NetSuite in the cloud

Also worth mentioning is the analyst session that focused on harnessing the power of consumerisation of IT and disruptive technology. This provided some interesting observations of changes in the operating environment:

  • Products are becoming an excuse to sell services and create recurring revenues streams
  • Shift from customer engagement to customer experience through various channels
  • The distinction between B2B and B2C is blurring
  • Markets are moving from ‘real’ time to ‘right’ time
  • Now more devices connected to the internet than people

If you missed SuiteWorld 2012, why not consider attending in 2013 in San Jose, California? If you can’t wait until then to find out more about NetSuite, why not click here and request BlueBridge One contact you about NetSuite?

Team GB Adidas Olympic kit stumbles at supply chain CSR hurdle

9th May 2012

Hot on the heels of the story about poor conditions for workers in the Apple-Foxconn manufacturing partnership comes news that the Team GB Olympic kit designed by Stella McCartney is being manufactured under sweatshop conditions in Indonesia. This attracts bad press for the 2012 London Olympics, and reputational damage for Adidas as it emerges that the brand expects to make around £100 million from its Olympic lines made by Indonesian workers that earn as little as 34p per hour.

For the Olympic Movement there is an embarrassing sub-text in the form of a double standard:

Athletes from all nations may compete on a level playing field but workers across the broader Olympic supply chain do not.

Once again this demonstrates that it is perilous to ignore CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) issues across the supply chain. We may accept that there are significant differentials in earnings, lifestyles, costs and standards of living between workers in developing compared to developed nations; however, what is unacceptable are practices such as physical and verbal abuse, forced overtime working and punishment for failing to reach targets.

Unfortunately it also suggests that there is a yawning gap between what some manufactured goods cost to produce compared to the premium price to buyers; ultimately such a perception makes the brand look exploitative. But is this perception correct?

This story was uncovered by The Independent. Although it is a quality newspaper, its reporters or editors cannot understand the business reality of being an international sportswear brand. The only one that truly understands Adidas’ business is… Adidas. If your business needed to defend itself against such allegations, how could you go about it?

One way to mount a credible defence in a case like this would be to present complete calculations of supply chain costs. Elements such as design, materials, manufacturing, labour, shipping, import and local sales taxes are critical to understanding margin calculations and proving that retail prices are reasonable.

A NetSuite cloud-based ERP solution provides you with a costs audit trail that would enable your wholesale distribution business to defend a position like this. For the foreseeable future, organisations operating in the global market are likely to face business challenges that require complete visibility of the supply chain; on top of that they need systems that offer unrivalled efficiency, flexibility and ease of access.

NetSuite provides supply chain clarity while avoiding the need to purchase hardware and software, and the steady ongoing drip of upgrades, maintenance and administration costs. It offers 24/7 access anywhere in the world connected to the internet. To gain accreditation as a UK NetSuite 3 Star Award solution provider BlueBridge One has demonstrated that it takes the time to understand the needs of mid-market customers before custom fitting NetSuite ERP. If you want your supply chain to be better able to help meet your business challenges, click here and register with BlueBridge One for a 14-day FREE trial of NetSuite.

The Iron Lady was not for turning but Teeside steel sends supply chain into reverse

20th April 2012

A few weeks ago, we floated the idea that it might be time to return manufacturing to the UK, especially for consumption in the local market. This might be considered prophetic as steel making returns to Teeside this week; however even at BlueBridge One we are not quite that good…

…it turns out that the steel manufactured at Redcar steelworks by plant owner SSI UK is not for consumption in the local market, it is destined for export and consumption by the Thai automotive industry. The return of a heavy industry such as steel making to the UK is truly momentous and somewhat unanticipated. It is doubtful that the plant’s former owners, India’s steel giant Tata, saw the potential for this flip of the market when mothballing the plant 2 years ago. It transpires that Thai parent company and largest steel producer in Southeast Asia, SSI, acquired the plant at a good price.

This turns one of the phenomena that has characterised globalisation on its head - the shift of manufacturing from the developed economies of Europe and North America to the lower labour cost tiger economies of Asia-Pacific. The clear inference from this development is that it is cheaper to make steel in Europe and ship it to Asia-Pacific; if we follow this to its logical conclusion it may even signal that Asia-Pacific labour costs are approaching parity with Europe.

This really shows the need for a NetSuite cloud-based ERP solution that provides real time analysis and business intelligence from across the supply chain. Custom fitted by BlueBridge One, NetSuite enables control and mastery of supply side issues. The return of production to Redcar steelworks is a large enterprise level event; however who knows when the trickle down effect is going to hit wholesale distribution and we see mid-market manufacturing return to Europe as well?

If you want the full picture of what is happening across your supply chain so that you can master supply side issues and make better strategic decisions for your business, click here, register, and let BlueBridge One show you the possibilities with a 14-day FREE trial of NetSuite.

Apple-Foxconn manufacturing partnership puts supply chain in the CSR spotlight

12th April 2012

As we noted on the blog recently, Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently raised salaries 25% for some Chinese workers as part of a move to improve conditions. Apple is unfortunate in that its success puts it in the spotlight, but it is unfair to single it out; there can be little doubt that similar issues affect workers in supply chains across China’s manufacturing sector.

It is easy to look at the supply chain through a lens that focuses on efficiency and margin. However, the Apple-Foxconn story tells us is that there is a human dimension to cost across the supply chain that it is perilous to ignore. From the perspective of corporate social responsibility (CSR) it is simply unacceptable that the health & safety of workers is compromised in delivering products to meet consumer demand.

Apple products carry a premium price tag, and much cachet is attached to the product slogan “Designed by Apple in California”. But if we expand this to include the hidden sub-text, “Designed by Apple in California by the worlds most valuable corporation, built in China by workers whose welfare is of little consequence”, it starts to lose its attraction.

Raising workers salaries and improving conditions creates implications for Apple’s pricing model and the relationship with Foxconn:

  • Does it raise consumer prices to maintain margin?
  • Or does it reduce its margin expectations by swallowing the increased manufacturing costs that result from paying workers more?

If you faced this dilemma in your wholesale distribution business you would need to be certain that you have the latest real time data across your supply chain, coupled to the analytical and reporting tools to enable you to interpret the information.

NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP solution lets you get control of the supply chain and enables mid-market wholesale distributors to better understand and deal with business issues. BlueBridge One is a UK NetSuite 3 Star Award solution provider that focuses on integrating NetSuite ERP to meet the specific needs of customers.

Low cost manufacturing may be pivotal for delivering products at the best cost point to price sensitive consumer markets, but the ethical and CSR issues raised by this strategy may force many managing supply chains in a global market to deal with dilemmas similar to Apple.

If you want access to real time business intelligence from across your supply chain that helps you deal with the dilemmas that face your business, click here and register with BlueBridge One for a 14-day FREE trial of NetSuite.

Is the time right for “Made in the UK” again? Find out with NetSuite

29th March 2012

Ever since European imperial powers first pursued agricultural products such as sugar, tea and rubber, global trade has relied on economy of scale and low labour costs to minimise total production costs.

This has remained a cornerstone in the industrialised age of manufactured goods; the most recent wave saw manufacturing migrate from developed western nations to the tiger economies of Asia-Pacific. China with its vast labour resource occupies a commanding place in the story of accelerating globalisation.

However, the choice to source products or components from the lowest cost labour economy should no longer be automatic because the logic that supports this accepted wisdom is breaking down.

Chinese manufacturing costs are on the up; Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently raised salaries 25% for some Chinese workers, highlighting a trend of increasing labour costs across China. While the cost of manufacture may be the price that catches the eye, the smartest wholesale distributors have a handle on the total landed cost (TLC), which factors all the costs of bringing goods to buyers’ doors.

Rising fuel costs and market over-capacity are driving up international shipping costs from Asian ports to North Europe and the Mediterranean. UK import duty and import VAT may exceed 25% or 30% for some goods.

This week Budget 2012 carried a resounding ‘Britain open for business’ message. So, is it time to repatriate manufacturing back to the UK? It may be a little too early right now to move the whole operation, but it may work for local consumption… How can you tell unless your supply chain management system gives you the 360 on total landed costs?

NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP enables its mid-market wholesale distribution customers to get a complete handle on total landed costs. BlueBridge One is a leading UK NetSuite solution provider specialising in custom-fitting powerful NetSuite online enterprise software tools to the specific needs of each customer.

If you think making better strategic decisions about configuring your supply chain could boost your business performance, click here and register for a 14-day FREE trial of NetSuite.

NetSuite ERP cloud-based solution gets you ready for tomorrow’s challenges today

29th March 2012

The word ‘chain’ implies linearity, but the supply chain of today is more interconnected than this; in a globalised environment characterised by commoditisation, wholesale distribution is much more likely to resemble a net. It is generally accepted that networked supply offers greater resilience, leaving wholesale distributors less susceptible to supply side risk.

It is not, however, without downside. Globalisation spreads the net far and wide, inviting risks in many forms. Extreme weather in Thailand; a volcano in Iceland; a tsunami in Japan; geopolitical upheaval across the Middle East; threats with the potential to destabilise supply may appear suddenly and unpredictably. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

A networked infrastructure invites complexity and undermines the ability to manage suppliers through simple processes. Complexity is further increased by sustainability, compliance and the demands of fast moving markets.

Ultimately managing suppliers with simple processes and legacy systems is inadequate and inefficient. In the worst cases it creates a sluggish business that is unable to respond quick enough to keep in step with change. Yesterday’s supply chain software systems may force customer organisations into technology ownership, leaving you stuck with a computing model that is inefficient and delivers poor value.

NetSuite ERP is cloud-based and lets today’s growing and midsize businesses exploit the cost efficiency and service flexibility provided by online solutions. With CRM and eCommerce ready to plug in, NetSuite provides the flexibility to provide the functionality required to implement a multi-channel eCommerce strategy.

NetSuite provides the end-to-end capability and business agility that wholesale distribution needs to stay on top of an increasingly challenging operational environment. NetSuite connects up customers, workforces, suppliers and partners to create scalable and highly mobile business operations that are quick to react to any change in domestic or global markets. Get better prepared today for tomorrows’ challenges with NetSuite cloud-based ERP.

Start getting ready for tomorrow today. Register with 3 Star NetSuite solution provider BlueBridge One for a free trial. It’s online so there is nothing to download or install. Click here to register for the 14-day FREE trial.

Why juggle with your supply chain when you can manage it in NetSuite

21st March 2012

Increasingly, devastated high streets up and down the UK are populated with those best able to tough it out - the big brands, or those with deep pockets or the clout to negotiate debt restructuring. Many smaller chains, independents and family run businesses that have been clinging on by their fingernails just do not have the economy of scale to compete. Call it what you will - ‘low consumer confidence’ or ‘a lack of spending power’ - what ever the euphemism, it equates to one thing - there is just not a lot of cash to go round.

The business cannot afford to underperform because it is handicapped by uninformed or reactionary decision making. For instance, you cannot correctly price and protect margin if you are unable to factor in all the elements of the landed costs of a product. Similarly if you cannot control the ability of sales people to discount then margins inevitably slide.

For many businesses the core issue is efficiency, the ability to do more with less. In wholesale distribution the need is for insight into what is happening across the supply chain. It is the need for visibility, agility and centralised management control.

BlueBridge One’s NetSuite solutions enable wholesale distribution businesses to effectively manage the supply chain rather than just juggle it. NetSuite lets you get a handle on the business from end-to-end and includes supply chain and inventory management, order management, shipping and fulfilment, revenue management, employee time and expense management.

Most importantly, NetSuite provides seamless integration of financial data across all departments, giving you access to enterprise-wide real-time business intelligence - allowing you to rapidly make better and more informed decisions.

It does all this without making any demands on capital investment - it does not need to be bought, installed and maintained on-premise. BlueBridge One custom implements NetSuite cloud based ERP to wrap the solution you need with a compelling value proposition.

If you need to make sure that your margin is not eroded by the inability to make informed decisions because you cannot see what is clearly happening, click here and register for a 14-day FREE trial.

BlueBridge One is a NetSuite Star Awards Winner 2011

27th February 2012

Every year NetSuite recognises the achievements of its top performing solution providers internationally. Announced every year, the NetSuite Star Awards cover the business performance by partners during the previous calendar year.

BlueBridge One’s performance during 2011 has been recognised with a NetSuite 3 Star Award. We are one of only two partners (out of a total of 46 EMEA partners) that achieved this status in 2011. This is the first time that 3 Star Awards have been achieved by EMEA or UK NetSuite Solution Providers.

We were pipped to the top spot this time, but that is just going to make BlueBridge One work even harder to deliver added value to our NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP solution customers this coming year.

Roll on the NetSuite Star Awards 2012 announcements…

If you want to test drive NetSuite’s cloud-based enterprise software solution, click here and register for a 14-day FREE trial.

BlueBridge One and NetSuite makes perfect sense

27th February 2012

Traditionally the big players in the enterprise software market have provided on-premise solutions that require upfront capital outlays and repeating costs for upgrades and maintenance. In addition to this customers face the cost of maintaining their own IT infrastructures.

However, in a period of economic uncertainty, its time for everyone to examine the value proposition of this model. For businesses that depend on enterprise software, this has never been more important consideration. With fast moving world events shifting markets and the business environment in an instant state of flux, many businesses more than ever need flexibility and systems that provide a real-time end-to-end view of their business.

If we examine the traditional approach we can easily unpick the ‘value’ of the big players; proprietary databases; escalating on-premise overheads such as footprint, energy and infrastructure costs. And then there’s the ‘software wagging the business’ - the tendency for the software to force your organisation to conform to the way it wants things done.

NetSuite’s cloud-based delivery model blows the lid off the traditional approach by removing direct footprint, energy and infrastructure costs, with customers paying for usage not ownership.

BlueBridge One is experienced in tailoring NetSuite’s enterprise software platform to provide vertical solutions for growing and mid-size businesses, allowing customers to focus on their business, not on their software.

Click here for more about why BlueBridge One makes perfect sense for those looking to enjoy the same levels of efficiency and flexibility as NetSuite’s other 10,000 customers worldwide.

Hello and welcome to the blog from BlueBridge One

1st February 2012

As a leading provider of business management solutions for growing and mid-size organisations we thought it was high time we started blogging to exploit the benefits of this social media channel for both existing and potential customers.

Our solutions are built around NetSuite, the world leader in cloud-based business management software. Being both a Star Awards Solution Provider and Solution Development Network Partner means that there is never a ‘no news’ week at BlueBridge One. Our customer focused approach means that we always have something to communicate to our BlueBridge One customer and partner community.

This may relate to product developments or upcoming releases, service or support updates, or a relevant news topic. The blog is the ideal channel for us to share news and thoughts. Our in-house team will help keep you better wired to the network and in the loop with information that helps you get the best value out of our services and solutions.

Watch this space… automate the process and subscribe to the blog by clicking here.