Entertainment UK is the UK's largest wholesale distributor of home entertainment products. The company supplies some of Britain's best known retailers with nearly a quarter of the UK music and video industry's entire output. Founded in 1966 as Record Merchandisers Limited the company's rebirth as Entertainment UK has been accompanied by considerable business growth. Entertainment UK's clients include Amazon, Tesco, Woolworths, WH Smith, MVC, Safeway and Waitrose.
As a large wholesale distribution company, Entertainment UK has a diverse set of IT requirements. In addition to purchasing equipment for its office premises the company needs to ensure its Distribution Centre (DC) is always adequately supplied. A separate area of the DC is allocated for the despatch of each customer's products (such as CDs, DVDs and videos) and therefore needs to be fully equipped with desktop PCs, laptops, printers, scanners and scanning guns. "Each new customer results in a fresh round of procurement activity," said Tracey Flett, IT Service Centre Manager at Entertainment UK. "This frequently means purchasing kit at very short notice - it is important to be operational as quickly as possible after a new customer is confirmed." As well as managing the logistics of wholesale distribution for many large high street retailers the company also distributes single items to households. The level of business is determined partly by seasonal factors with the pre-Christmas period a particularly busy time.
"Our volume of IT purchasing is generally quite high although it can vary considerably from month to month - we probably spend around £5k to £10k a week on routine IT equipment and about £20k for ad hoc projects." As delivery demands can vary from the same day to several weeks the company looked for an IT supplier who could mesh with its flexible procurement needs and offer value for money across the board.
Transputec Computers plc provides a comprehensive, one stop sourcing and procurement service for all of Entertainment UK's IT needs. "After more than five years of partnership with Transputec we know their costs are very competitive," said Tracey.
"We routinely conduct a service review by obtaining comparative quotes from other suppliers and the Transputec deal always comes out on top."
A major benefit of the Transputec service is reliability. "We can depend on Transputec to source equipment and get the best possible deal," said Tracey. "We enjoy a consistently high standard of service with flexible delivery options. Buying IT equipment is one part of the logistical exercise we never have to worry about." Establishing a robust infrastructure is pivotal to any wholesale distribution business. "We need to purchase, install and configure equipment as efficiently as possible - even a short delay can impact on operational performance. Transputec meets all of our requirements for reliability."
Tracey highlights service continuity as another big plus of the Transputec contract. "Dealing with a specific account manager provides a clearly defined channel for all of our requests. As other members of the Transputec team are also fully briefed we receive an excellent response whenever we call."
Continuity is also important because of the diverse nature of IT procurement at Entertainment UK.
"We are equipping different environments - supplying the Distribution Centre is quite different from supplying our offices for example, " said Tracey. "The varied software requirements for separate locations also need to be taken into account. We can leave it to Transputec to manage a range of different specs and ensure the right kit turns up at the right place."
Continuity is also served by Transputec's knowledge of Entertainment UK's IT stock. "Even after two years in the job I probably only know of about 50% of our equipment," said Tracey. "Transputec has a better idea of our stock than we do and that knowledge pays off when we need to track a procurement history."
Transputec is responsible for loading and configuring software on each PC, referring to the latest software build provided by Tracey's department. "It cuts out a huge amount of work for us, especially if there are problems or delays. We can trust the equipment will work as soon as it's switched on. Transputec provides a plug and play service which brings real value."
Outsourcing the IT procurement function avoids the need to recruit additional personnel and also offers other staff-related advantages. "We would be hard pushed to maintain a high level of expertise in-house simply because IT is such a fast changing and specialist area of procurement," explained Tracey. The Transputec team has immediate access to a pool of contacts and suppliers and can offer expert knowledge on a vast range of products. "Transputec's ability to tap into the market from a broader perspective is particularly valuable - we benefit considerably in terms of cost and product availability."
The ability to effectively source more obscure products and components is a welcome part of the Transputec package. "We frequently order parts for older equipment and may not even know what the components are called - Transputec will find replacements that are no longer in general circulation," said Tracey. "Getting the best from our existing equipment reduces total cost of ownership in the long term," said Tracey. "The guys at Transputec do all the running around. They go the extra mile and we benefit."
With more than 1,500 users to supply in such a dynamic business as Entertainment UK, Transputec's procurement service has considerable potential to impact on the success of the enterprise. As Tracy concluded: "Effective IT procurement is critical to the logistical success in wholesale distribution and plays an important role at Entertainment UK. For the last five years Transputec has provided an unbeaten, high quality, value for money service."