Company: UUNETCustomer: LISSubmitted by: YoYoThe quality and reliability of its Internet connection is absolutely crucial for LIS, Europe’s premier solution provider in warehouse management and supply chain execution. As a global organisation with a critical need for fast, accurate internal communications, LIS depends on UUNET to carry its rapidly-increasing Internet traffic.As more and more business moves online, smart use of the supply chain becomes essential to meet the burgeoning numbers of often complicated orders. Indeed, the traditional warehouse concept is already history.

The dynamics of today’s marketplace now place the stock warehouse at the hub of an extremely complex service and distribution operation.In the world of e-commerce, the winners will be those companies which implement scaleable, flexible and practical supply chain execution solutions. They need systems that can integrate the management of every aspect of e-business, from order acceptance and management, goods picking, despatch and replenishment through to harmonised transport management.All of which helps to explain the strong demand for the expertise of High Wycombe-based LIS, one of the world’s top five specialists in warehouse systems and supply chain execution. Customers already include names such as Sony, Panasonic, Siemens, Securicor, GlaxoWellcome and BT Cellnet, while Asda is one of several customers using LIS products to manage the fulfilment operation of Internet home-delivery services.

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Supply chain challenges

Central to the LIS product line are the company’s fully integrated Dispatcher warehouse management and transport management software systems.

These products address the challenges of the modern supply chain, including those of e-commerce fulfilment, by improving visibility and integration between a company, its suppliers, customers and business partners.‘Our business is about enabling our customers to collaborate with everyone involved – right across the supply chain,’ explains Frank Carron, marketing and alliances manager for LIS. ‘Essentially our systems integrate the entire supply, transportation, management and fulfilment process so that inventory information is available in real time to as many people as necessary.‘It’s about speeding up the movement of stock, improving decision making, and letting you respond better to specific customer needs. For instance, let’s say you’re selling mobile phones that can be configured in a variety of different ways, depending on the customer’s requirements. It makes sense to keep all the elements in stock and to assemble the kits at the last minute – far cheaper and more flexible than holding large stocks of variously completed product.

The critical connection

Over 15 years, LIS has built a business employing nearly 200 people in seven offices worldwide, with implementation partners in five markets, and provision of local-language support to customers across three continents.With head quarters in High Wycombe, Bucks, offices in Belgium, Holland, France and North America, and partners in Germany, Spain, Finland and South Africa, LIS depends increasingly on its UUNET connection to the Internet.‘The quality and reliability of the line is absolutely essential to our business,’ says Chris Gallagher, development manager at LIS. ‘We’re a global organisation and rely on UUNET for our internal communications. It says a lot that LIS has been a UUNET leased-line customer for as long as five years. In fact we’ve recently upgraded from a 64Kb service to the UUdirect Tiered service, which allows us to vary the connection speed at short notice between 64Kb and 2048Kb.

Fulfilment is key

‘In e-business, fulfilment has become not just a competitive differentiator,’ says Frank Carron. ‘It is also a competitive discriminator. There’s no doubt that customers will actively avoid shopping with a site that has let them down in the past.’Even so, says Carron, recent history shows that relatively few companies have got customer service levels in e-commerce right yet.‘Ironically, one of the biggest threats to business is success. Stories of companies being unable to cope with demand are commonplace – it’s significant that several high-profile retailers have been forced to apologise to disappointed customers recently.

Even companies that seem to manage are often getting by through a combination of luck, dedicated staff and over-stretched processes.‘In most cases this is because companies pay a lot of attention to the front end of the process without also considering how they are actually going to deliver.’

Imminent launch

While LIS is most certainly delivering to its customers, new products and enhancements continue to be added to the company’s portfolio, reflecting the changing needs of the market.The most recent addition is the imminent launch of Dispatcher-DeliveryProof, which allows order and delivery detail to be downloaded on to a driver’s hand-held terminal, as well as enabling information from the point of delivery to be captured and relayed back to appropriate systems at base.‘The objective in pretty well everything we do is to achieve ever greater efficiency in supply chain execution,’ Frank Carron concludes.

‘It’s all about providing the customer with a real-time view into the supply chain, improving control, decision-making and levels of customer service.‘And the truth is, in today’s fiercely contested markets, it’s hard to see how any player in the e-business arena can survive long without investing in a scaleable, flexible supply chain execution capability.’