5 Minutes With Tony Dobson, MD, Snapfulfil

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Tell us about the Snapfulfil story.

Snapfulfil was launched in 2007. It’s a warehouse management system (WMS) that offers an innovative, cloud-based subscription model with flexibility at its core. We deliver cutting-edge systems at a fraction of the cost of traditional installations. We can help retailers implement a WMS that is up and running within a matter of weeks. Our unique, no capex model means clients pay no upfront fees, with all necessary hardware, software, licences, training and updates packed in one monthly subscription. We also offer comprehensive 24/7 pre and post-sales support to successfully deliver large or complex retail projects.

What gap in the wider retail market does Snapfulfil strive address?

Our unique selling point is being able to deliver software systems at below market value in exceptional time scales. Our clients rarely wait for more than eight to 12 weeks after the order placement to see an implementation of the project.

It’s no secret that retailers are increasingly under pressure to compete with Amazon in terms of speedy deliveries and WMS. However, more and more retailers are realising that having smaller warehouse facilities will enable them to increase customer satisfaction with more timely and convenient delivery options. The problem retailers now face is how to manage these smaller depots when their main WMS is typically geared towards a single large warehouse. Having committed significant investment and resources to setting this up, they would not be in a position to repeat this exercise. This is where Snapfulfil steps in.

What’s in store for Snapfulfil in 2019?

We’re poised to launch a new version of our software launched before summer this year. This will include a new improved look and feel, full self-configuration of the product, revolutionary replenishments, and full management of any new data fields. Meanwhile in April, we’re going to unveil our new robot picking solution at the Promat show in Chicago – this will be ground breaking and we can’t wait to release it.

What are the common mistakes or frustrations for retailers when it comes to WMS?

Too many to mention, but inaccurate deliveries due to picking errors are the most annoying and costly. There’s also the issue of speed and flexibility of picking, especially for online orders, and over stocking due to inaccurate stock keeping. This is very costly and absorbs all your cash!

How can retailers improve their WMS to enable expansion solutions?

With an accurate WMS that gives complete control, expansion would not be a problem. However, retailers would need to make sure the product is scalable, easy to train new users, offers peak-only user numbers, identifies and manages new products easily, and manages order pooling to the most efficient picks and carrier cut-off times.

How can retailers improve their WMS to improve customer satisfaction?

It’s all about getting the right product picked, packed and shipped – get this right and all other problems go-away. Top class WMS systems should do this in their sleep.

What is the importance of a good WMS when it comes to competitive advantage?

Major retail players, especially the likes of Amazon, are cleaning up because they get the WMS basics right. It’s a foundation for any retail business and utterly crucial to invest in. Get the WMS right, and then it’s down to price and service.

In what ways does Snapfulfil’s SaaS play a role in WMS for retailers?

Sixty per cent of our clients are retailers, and it’s quite telling that they get it right 99.9 per cent of the time. The system is scalable – our largest client did 160,000 orders on Black Friday, after all – and it can expand to fit the retail peaks which can be different depending on product. With our unique short-term rental model retailers just pay for the licenses they need at this time. It’s also easy to train new users – particular good for temps – just give them the RDT and off they go.

We believe it is the complete solution for all retail WMS users – and so do our clients.

One of the biggest plusses is our ability to roll out sites in weeks not months. You have a problem that needs solving? No problem – we can take that burden away from you in weeks.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the UK retail sector, given the current climate?

Brexit is the unknown – from both a sales and stock purchase standpoint. Another risk – and one that will probably stick around a lot longer than Brexit – is Amazon seemingly attempting to crush every retailer in every marketplace. We recommend retailers adopt a WMS like Snapfulfil to help in this fight, otherwise they could run into trouble. The standard that Amazon is setting with timed next-day and even same-day delivery is frightening and with the generation coming through now, “waiting a few days” should not even be on the radar.

Describe your role and responsibilities as chief executive of Snapfulfil.

I have full control of the UK and US business, full P&L responsibility and commercial and strategic responsibility for the day to day business. My priorities are world-class customer service and making sure we have the best product in the world, in both functionality and ease and speed of deployment. Keeping our product and services at the leading edge of WMS takes up most of my time, but thankfully I have a great team who I can trust and rely onto to get the day-to-day things done and support the strategic direction of the business. I have a great stakeholder who has the same ambitions and leads our strategic product direction. I must say, with that sort of backing, I think it makes my job the best chief executive job in the world.

What got you into product experience management in the first place?

I have always loved WMS and how it works. I love the difference you can make being at first a developer then moving onto being a project manager. It’s the best area of software to work in because you really can make and see the difference you can make.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Snapfulfil was a sleeping giant when I started here. With my previous experience in supply chain and specifically WMS – I could see this – the challenge always was and still is getting the world to know just how good we are at software. It can also sometimes be a challenge to show how world-class our services are and making 100 per cent sure we are fit to deliver. We are now ready to take on the world.

And the most rewarding?

Working in a company that genuinely allows us to make a difference. This makes getting out of bed most mornings a pleasure. Who could want more!

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