Redditch’s Lifestyle Appliances invest in IT suite to manage online sales surge
Lifestyle Appliances Ltd, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of outdoor leisure products, has seen a surge in online sales during the recent lockdown period, which the company managed with the latest software, cyber security and remote working tools.
The award-winning Redditch-based company was formed in 2001 and enjoys a strong reputation in the retail, leisure and hospitality, and industrial sectors. In the past quarter, Lifestyle Appliances’ business has experienced growing online demand as more of us stay at home and many of its retail customers started buying online rather than visiting the showroom.
The company already used a range of Managed IT services from its Kidderminster-based technology partner of 12 years, OGL Computer, including IT Support, Office 365, Cloud Recovery and Proactive Administration, to manage business processes. But it was OGL Computer’s ERP software that helped Lifestyle Appliances manage the online spike in sales.
OGL’s integrated CRM, accounts and purchasing ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution combines data from all sales channels into one platform. By bringing together information from many different systems, Lifestyle Appliances was able to process orders more efficiently.
Frank Spencer, Lifestyle Appliances Director, explains: “OGL Software really came to the fore as it enabled us to track stock movements quickly and keep our customers up to speed with the daily fluctuations in stock availability, so we could pass this accurate information on to our customer base.”
While OGL Computer’s Cloud Recovery solution gave Lifestyle Appliances’ peace of mind with automated off-site backups of its data, Office 365 supported the company’s flexible remote working environment. Frank explains: “A small number of staff utilised mobile VPN set ups to work from home and this enabled them to access the OGL platform real-time from a remote location to process sales orders and purchase orders. This kept the flow of orders to be dispatched going into the warehouse so that delivery time promises for our internet customer base were maintained.
“Our view on remote working has totally changed. We feel that as we transit out of the pandemic and return to what you might call the “new normal”, practices implemented during the pandemic and lockdown will be maintained as standard working practice as a result of them being recognised as a far more efficient way of conducting our business.”
Lifestyle Appliances has also recently invested in technology from OGL Computer’s Cyber Security division, CyberGuard Technologies’ with next-generation anti-virus, Carbon Black Defense, to help protect its network via real-time monitoring and advanced security measures.
A cost-effective first line of protection, Carbon Black Defense provides real-time monitoring of user behaviour to identify and report suspicious or malicious activities. By protecting user endpoints and offering a rapid response to suspected threats on mobile devices and BYODs, since implementation Carbon Black Defense has already reduced the amount of virus-attacks Lifestyle Appliances had previously encountered.
Nick Davies, Head of Software Development at OGL Computer, concluded: “With our range of IT support services and security solutions in place around our ERP software, Lifestyle Appliances is better able to manage expectations of customers, partners and staff. We’re finding that more distributors, like Lifestyle Appliances, are coming to us wanting to improve or even set up e-commerce stores, so our e-commerce team is very busy. Using our services, those distributors are safe in the knowledge that their IT infrastructure is robust, secure and stable, so their teams can easily increase sales without any additional administration effort or cost.”