Inter-Line (South-West) Building Supplies was founded in 1876 as a dry-lining contracting company and in 1986 it became primarily a builder’s merchant.
Further diversification into new product ranges, driven by customer demand, has seen additions to Inter-Line’s branch structure and product offering. This expansion has been reflected in the sales figures which have increased by an average of 12.5% year on year for the last 15 years. This new infrastructure now gives the company 60,000 square feet of storage, therefore managing stock control is critical to this highly successful business.
In 2015, Border Merchant Systems launched a new mobile app for its CounterAct Software — ‘Mobile Stock Checking’ to assist companies like Inter-Line to better manage the process of stock data capture and management.
Inter-Line has been using CounterAct’s Mobile Stock Checking app for seven months. After initial trials in one branch, 2016 will see the company rolling the app out into its remaining four branches.
Steve Vincent, Operations Manager at Inter-Line, explains just how the app has made a difference to the way they manage stock:
“There have been many benefits to using the mobile stock checking app compared to manual checking and recording. Firstly, the process saves a huge amount of costly labour intensive time, not only in terms of physically checking the stock but with admin and entering the subsequent recorded data”.
Inter-Line uses the app on the latest Nexus tablets with Android V5 or above. A check of stock is carried out using the tablet and the levels recorded electronically by entering product codes or preferably by using the tablet to scan the barcodes.
The information from the mobile app immediately integrates the data into Inter-Line’s CounterAct Software so they have a continual record of products in ‘real-time’ data. “The CounterAct system can then give ‘differential’ reports and you can compare previous stock checks and trends in data. This helps to identify any major discrepancies immediately and then investigate before making the necessary stock adjustments,” added Steve.
Prior to the introduction of the mobile app, Inter-Line used extensive printed manual stock check sheets. Steve clarifies, “the paper trail is now virtually eliminated. Handwritten figures were often open to interpretation or misrepresented, which occasionally led to errors in stock levels which can be costly due to the nature of the stock that we hold”.
Steve concludes, “the benefits have been significant for Inter-Line. We have a much speedier and efficient stock control process. Information is far more accurate with lower levels of human error. This has helped to reduce our overall stock levels in some areas. It also helps us to redirect stock around our branches. Overall we have a more effective capture of data, from supply chain to dispatch. This is imperative in a business of our size. We will be introducing the new app system into all our branches this year and we are confident that we will be able to reduce both overall stock levels and the potential for ‘stock out’ situations”.
Phil Davies, Commercial Manager at Border stated “We are delighted Inter-Line has seen the real benefits of electronic stock checking using the latest app technology. At Border Merchants, we are continually looking at ways to improve our customers’ efficiencies, reduce errors and increase their customer service levels and, ultimately, margins. 2016 will see the launch of other new mobile apps including one for Supplier Purchase Ordering”.