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Following the recent appointment of Marc Kemp as Managing Director at Futures Supplies & Support Services Ltd, the company is now moving forward by preparing for a new phase in its commercial activities with two new and exciting developments for the autumn.
With its young, dynamic team in place, award winning Futures Supplies continues to encourage promotion and career growth. Most recently, Leiann Kemp has been promoted to the position of Sales Manager. Leiann joined Futures Supplies, a well-established and award winning supplier of washroom, cleaning and janitorial products, in 2006 as a general office assistant, she was promoted to Customer Service Manager & PA to the MD in 2008 and is an experienced and well established member of the team. She was also ‘Scholar of the Year 2013’ at the Katrin Training Academy programme beating over 70 other candidates to a prize that will see her visiting Finland in early 2014.
As a cleaning industry market leader in both innovation and technology, Futures Supplies believes in listening to its customers and delivering added value every step of the way. The company is committed to continual investment in its customer partnerships and has worked hard to continue to develop the company’s website which was recently re-launched with some exciting new features.
The website at www.futures-supplies.co.uk has a fresh new look, where customers can not only shop online 24/7, but can manage their accounts and find a wealth of information to support their own businesses. They are kept up to date with the very latest news and tools to keep their online experience as streamline, fast and informative as possibly.
Some of the new features include; a new predictive search facility which speeds up the search process and makes it easier to find products, a streamlined ‘add to basket’ process to make placing orders quicker and more efficient, easy to view and place orders using a tablet or mobile phone using the latest technology and streamlined payment processing via Sage Pay along with the facility to pay by credit and debit card and the added facility of paying using PayPal.
To take a look at the exciting and simple to use new site or for more details on Futures Supplies, its products, services and CSR activities or to request a password and user name go to www.futures-supplies.co.uk
The internet offers distributors valuable opportunities to sell their products online, and those that have invested sufficiently in their website are reaping the rewards. ECJ talks to two cleaning products distributors that are actively selling online about how they set up their ‘e-shop’ and what benefits their website has brought to their business.
The growth in internet selling is surely one of the most influential trends affecting distributors of cleaning products in recent years. Those companies that have been at the forefront of developing online shops are now seeing very real benefits, and sales from their website account for a significant percentage of their business. ECJ spoke to Mandie Kemp at Futures Supplies & Support Services in the UK and Henrik Stadsing of Stadsing in Denmark. Both have invested heavily in growing their online business in recent years.
Futures Supplies has been selling products online since 2004 and Kemp explains there were many challenges to overcome when setting up its online operation. “It was vital to ensure our website was user friendly, fast and efficient – establishing exactly what other content the website should contain was challenging as we wanted it to be not just a website but also an information platform for customers. We wanted to combine what our customers had asked for through our research with easy ordering and access to product information, safety data sheets as well as provide news and industry information.
“Products were carefully selected to ensure they offered customers an informed choice including a full range of branded and value products from reputable manufacturers. Customers could benefit from quality products providing the best value, whilst taking into account their environmental impact and keeping up to date with product innovations as they came onto the market.”
Stadsing has been selling online for six years, as Henrik Stadsing explains. “The biggest challenge in developing our website was to make it as simple and as functional as possible for our customers. It’s tempting to keep adding features and making the site more and more complex, however it’s vital to always bear in mind that it must be as simple to use and as functional as possible for the customer.”
The site took almost a year to set up and has proved to be a costly exercise, Stadsing continues, with a great deal of work involved. “However, for us the investment has definitely been worthwhile.” Now the site not only allows customers to shop online but also to also view their order history, access old invoices and credit notes, compile a shopping list, etc. Futures has also invested heavily over the years in developing this type of interactive platform for their customers.
Both companies offer their full product range for sale online. “For us it was important for everything in the catalogue to be available online from the start,” explains Stadsing. Kemp adds: “Whilst our full product range of over 2,000 products is available to buy online, the website offers an easy search tool to find the products customers need quickly and easily along with a ‘favourites’ facility, so they can go straight to the products they order regularly.
“Green products are high on our customers’ agenda and to help them make an informed choice a ‘green traffic light’ facility appears next to a green rated product. Click on the traffic light and they are taken to a link that helps them to find out more about some of the commonly found green logos and labels associated to the products.”
The proof of both websites’ success is in the numbers – Stadsing’s site accounts for an average of 50 per cent of the company’s monthly turnover. Futures Supplies’ online shop represents over 60 per cent of the total business revenue.
“We train our customers in using the website and actively encourage them to use it,” Stadsing emphasises. “We no longer want our sales people to simply take orders – their time is better spent in offering advice on using the right products and carrying out product training for example.” So the fact Stadsing is so proactive in promoting its website to customers allows its sales staff to add greater value to relationships through other activities.
Most orders coming to the Stadsing site are made by existing customers, rather than new ones who have come to the company through finding the site. However the website has enabled the business to sell products which it may not have sold through conventional channels. “Salespeople can only promote a limited selection of solutions at any one time while the website shows our total offering,” says Stadsing. “And our catalogue only comes out once a year, whereby we can update our website continuously as we add new products to the range. We have also found people are much more likely to try something new if they can simply buy it with one click.”
Futures Supplies has found that it’s the added extras the online shop offers – access to delivery notes, invoices and statements, etc – that have encouraged new customers to use its services. Kemp explains: “A focus on tight financial controls, especially in tough economic times, is fundamental to contract cleaners – one of our key market sectors. Because of that we also developed a web based budget control system backed up by full individual site-by-site reporting. This a really simple idea that helps us to deliver cost controls and savings to our customers.”
So what additional opportunities does a comprehensive and dynamic website bring to a distributor’s business? “The website is a window for the outside world to look into our business, enabling us to reach many more potential customers than we possibly could otherwise,” believes Kemp. “It allows us to really engage, even more closely, with our customers and deliver not just products but up-to-date information.
“The website has enabled us to build long term partnerships with like-minded customers, to collaborate and help grow their businesses through the delivery of their very own ‘partner’ website ‘janitorial shop’. This is a simple and effective way to help cleaning/facilities and similar companies to grow their company.” There are three simple steps.
Step 1: The creation of an ‘on-line shop’ which is seen as an extension of Futures Supplies’ ‘partners/customers’ website is produced in line with their branding and website design. Futures Supplies then simply provides a link on the partners’ website to the new online shop, where an agreed selection of products can be easily purchased by their customers.
Step 2: The online shop is automatically updated with product information and pictures by Futures Supplies.
Step 3: Once provided with a user name and password, partners’ customers can then place online orders, which are fed directly into the Futures Supplies’ system, and Futures Supplies take care of the processing and delivery.
In offering advice to other distributor companies that may be in the early stages of developing their own online business, both Kemp and Stadsing agree there is no room for compromise. “You must do it 100 per cent, 80 per cent is simply not good enough,” says Stadsing. “At the very first click your site must be easy to use for the customer – he has to like it straight away or you will lose him immediately.”
“An online shop is a big, big investment in both time and money; not just at the development stage but also in ensuring the site continues to meet customer expectations day after day, week after week,” Kemp emphasises.
“Our website sales order processing runs at a secure hosted data centre linked directly through to our main office server, via its own dedicated broadband line enabling the smooth uninterrupted transfer of our customer orders directly into our sales order processing main system, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Without such a robust back office set-up, a website that fails could cost you customers not encourage them – don’t even think about it unless you have the right infrastructure in place!
“And when it comes to the functionality of your site, you must have a ‘developer’ not just a ‘designer’. It is important the look and feel of the site is in keeping with your branding, but it’s more important the site functions consistently and delivers a reliable customer experience that makes them want to come back again and again.”
Stadsing also advises that it’s worth spending time on the technical detail. “An important consideration is optimising words and choosing the correct terms for all your products, so they will be found by the search engines. This is actually a difficult and lengthy process. And there must be a photo alongside every single product description.”
Ordering via a website ultimately makes life easier for customers so it
works to everyone’s benefit. However, once you have set up your shop, don’t think your work is finished. “Your online shop is never complete, it must continually evolve and change to incorporate new features and new products,” Stadsing says. “For example, our next step is an app, whereby customers can simply scan the QR code of the product on their smart phone and compile their shopping list via that method.
“With all our developments our priority must be to make it easier for the customer to buy from us.”
Kemp agrees: “As an essential part of our business, the website platform needs continual nurturing along with inward investment to keep it fresh, innovative and user friendly. The development of a website must be planned not just for the present but also for the future to develop and support the growth of the business.”
Principle Cleaning Services in the UK has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with its distributor, Futures Supplies & Support Services Ltd. Jim Freeman at Principle Cleaning explains what he expects from his supplier.
“It is important to us that all of our suppliers share our commitment to genuine partnership working. We look to have trust in our cleaning products supplier to help us meet the promises we make to our customers.
“This is not only in meeting deadlines and supplying the correct products but also in being actively involved in sourcing innovative new solutions and guiding us through the range of products available.” He adds:
“Futures Supplies has helped us with exploring new cleaning products and have helped us incorporate these into our tender proposals. It has a very proactive account management team who are always on hand to offer advice and to provide support.”
Freeman describes Futures Supplies’ key strengths as being in its product knowledge, proactive account management and its availability. “It is imperative in a cleaning product supplier that we can get answers to the questions our customers raise. The management team are all very happy to support our business and regularly go beyond the norm in helping us meet the demands of our customers.” And he is confident that Principle’s relationship with Futures Supplies has had a positive impact on the business. “We have supported each other through our development and we have both benefited through a reputation for delivering a genuinely world class service.”
At Futures Supplies Mandie Kemp explains the company’s ethos. “We aim to deliver service, quality, value, and reliability with environmental consideration through continual improvement and technology. Our role is to deliver more than just cleaning products.”
Kemp continues: “Our role involves providing, through a dedicated account management team, the best advice on the right products to deliver value and quality, outstanding customer service, reliable and efficient deliveries on time, back office support, as well as delivering innovative and original technologies in both products and the services we provide.
“This begins through support at the tender process, the provision of on site training, regular meetings, reporting and maintaining high standards throughout the provision of contracts and beyond.” The distributor has always sought to be at the forefront of delivering new technologies, not just in the product range it offers but also throughout its business processes and operations. Sustainability has been at the heart of its drive to introduce new cleaning products. Futures Supplies also has a highly credible approach to climate change, offering Carbon Neutral supplies since 2006 and achieving a net zero carbon footprint. It worked closely with Principle in fact, when the cleaning company attained carbon neutral status and has been a valuable partner in its environmental management.
Read the full article at:- http://www.europeancleaningjournal.com/uploads/dist-focus-emag_0_6acf490161ce322e.pdf
Mandie Kemp who runs Futures Supplies and Support Services, a distributor of washroom, cleaning and janitorial product has invested heavily in upgrading and streamlining the technology at her company’s south London premises. “We started up in 1995 before website and other technology was generally available and, as we know, it turned out to be a key development in driving the industry forward,” she said. “We have always tried to be at the forefront of technology and were among the first to offer an online shopping facility. Having such robust systems in place have certainly helped us grow our business.
“Our software offers a fully integrated suite of multi-user application software designed to enable us to support and fulfil the specific individual requirements of our customers. The software encompasses facilities for call management, sales order processing, stock control, invoicing, sales purchasing and van routing. And it provides comprehensive management control, including detailed sales, stock and purchase reporting.”
Futures Supplies’ website order processing system runs at a hosted data center linked to the company’s main office server via its own dedicated broadband line. This enables the smooth transfer of customer orders directly into the main order processing system round the clock. Orders are then allocated to a delivery route, giving the customer an accurate date for their arrival, enabling Futures Supplies to manage deliveries more efficiently, provide more accurate delivery dates and be more efficient with delivery costs.
The company’s delivery fleet is equipped with a Telematics GPRS tracking system that has led to improvements in routing and fuel consumption, and keeps customers informed about the location of their order during transit.
The Futures Supplies website, meanwhile, has recently undergone a major upgrade. The site already generates 70 per cent of the company’s business and online traffic and sales order volumes are increasing. And customers expect faster access to back office support and information, including their sales order history, proof of delivery and invoices and statements.
One facet of this is a fully integrated budget control tool that is widely used by the company’s contract cleaning customers, producing considerable benefits and efficiencies for them in terms of back office time, cost control and savings on management time. To set up, it simply requires:
• An agreed ‘materials’ and ‘rechargeable’ list
• The customer’s budget data uploaded from a spread sheet they provide
• A unique user name and password for the person nominated to place orders and for the customer administrator.
“Providing a clear definition between orders for materials and rechargeable, the system ensures that our client never forgets to invoice onwards for the rechargeables,” explained Kemp.
“The customer administrator has access 24/7 to download and monitor monthly spend, summary reports, products ordered by site and allow or disallow budget-busting orders at the click of a button. A copy of the order is generated as confirmation to both the person who placed the order and the customer administrator.”
As part of a quest to build long-term partnerships, Futures Supplies has also launched a number of partner website janitorial shops in a collaboration that aims to help its customers grow their business. The shop is accessed via a link on the partner’s website which enables their own customers to purchase an agreed selection of products. Futures Supplies takes care of the processing and delivery.
An unapologetic tree-hugger, Mandie Kemp is helping her clients make product choices with the environment in mind. Sustainable products are signalled on the Futures Supplies website by a green traffic light, indicating they have little or low environmental impact, are biodegradable, include recycled content or carry an authenticated ‘eco’ or green logo or label. Technology is also helping with the reduction of paperwork.
The Futures Supplies website dates from 2005 when Sean Heraghty of e-Business Systems brought in a proven e-commerce system that he then tailored to the company’s and its customers’ specific needs. A key requirement was for the website to be integrated with the system serving the back office, which processes orders and updates product stock and customer information.
“With an integrated website, orders taken on the website are automatically transferred to the back off ice system for processing,” Heraghty explained. “And on the other side, any updates made in the back office to products, customer details and prices are automatically transferred to the website. Other things like safety data sheets and product pictures can be placed in a folder which is picked up by the website.
“But you cannot buy packages that do all this – someone has to actually integrate the website with the other systems so that they operate seamlessly together. With a properly integrated set of systems, there should be very little additional administrative effort to keep the website up to date.”
With businesses so dependent on new-age technology, operational hiccups can prove costly. So Heraghty implemented a failsafe system that runs on a separate server and monitors the website every 15 minutes. “If the website doesn’t respond within seconds, it is then restarted automatically. So even if there has been a technical failure, Futures Supplies’ customers will rarely see any downtime on the website,” he said.
Heraghty added that flexibility was a key feature of the website, enabling it to respond to Futures Supplies’ evolving needs while providing the company’s clients with facilities they may not have themselves, such as the order budget control system. “This system can save contract cleaners a great deal of admin effort in controlling the costs of their cleaning contracts. So the Futures Supplies website is offering a lot of added value to its customers.”
Read the full article at:- http://www.europeancleaningjournal.com/uploads/dist-focus-emag_0_6acf490161ce322e.pdf
Celebrating the best of Croydon’s business talent, more than 40 short listed businesses out of hundreds of initial entries went head to head in the finals of The Croydon Business Awards 2011. The ceremony and Gala Dinner held at Fairfield Halls in April saw Futures Supplies & Support Services Ltd presented with a fantastic double win on the night.
Futures Supplies, a South London based independent distributor of washroom, cleaning and janitorial products business was recognised and rewarded for its exceptional commitment to delivering sustainable cleaning solutions and its CSR activities, collecting the top awards for both the ‘Best Business for Sustainability’ and ‘Best Business for Community Contribution’.
The Croydon Business Awards 2011 in association with Barclays have been developed by South London Business in order to reward and celebrate the most dynamic and innovative businesses in the borough.
Based in South London and this year celebrating its sixteenth year of trading, Futures Supplies was also ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Best Business for Training & Development’ and ‘Best Medium Sized Business’. No stranger to winning awards, the company boasts numerous accolades including the highly acclaimed ‘Golden Green Apple’.
Mandie Kemp, Managing Director says, “We are living, breathing proof that you can run a profitable, sustainable and successful business and still change lives through engaging and supporting the local and wider community. At Futures Supplies, we see supporting young people as our legacy. Give a young, unemployed person an opportunity …and you are helping to build the future for generations to come.”
CarbonNeutral since 2006, Futures Supplies’ objectives are to deliver service, quality, value, reliability and sustainability through continuous improvement. More details on the company, its products, services and CSR activities can be found at www.futures-supplies.co.uk
Taking an active approach in supporting Futures Supplies’ commitment to CSR, Office Manager Andrew Hills will be taking part in the ‘UK End 2 End’ one thousand mile charity bike ride in May, all the way from Lands’ End to John O’Groats on behalf of his chosen charity Action Medical Research.
Focusing on child health, Action Medical Research is a leading UK charity dedicated to funding for the very best medical research to help babies and children affected by disability, rare diseases and infections. Andy is hoping to raise £5,000 to help fund their vital research through generous sponsorship.
As part of his training, Andy has already taken part in several of the charity’s 100-mile day rides in preparation for the massive 115 mile average a day he will be cycling. Starting on the most southwesterly tip of England, Andy and a group of other participants will pedal their way through the beautiful British countryside of Devon and Cornwall, the Welsh border, Lake District into Scotland and to the most northern point of Britain.
Celebrating its sixteenth year in business, Futures Supplies is an independent distributor of washroom, cleaning and janitorial products. Award winning and highly successful, the company encourages and has actively supported numerous fund raising activities including sponsored walks and skydives, raising valuable funds for charities as well as engaging staff with its community.
“I was encouraged to cycle to work as part of the company’s award winning travel plan and now enjoy it as a leisure pursuit. Whilst enormously challenging, I am looking forward to admiring the beauty of Great Britain whilst at the same time having a positive effect on my community by raising funds for this worthwhile charity.” said Andy Hills.
You can find out more about Action Medical Research and sponsor Andy by following the link http://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/ahills or follow Andy’s progress on Futures Supplies’ Twitter and Facebook sites.