Mears Group is best known for its social housing repairs and maintenance work. The company’s operations, however, extends to new builds, contact centres and domiciliary care. With more than 300 branches and 20,000 staff in the UK, the business turns over almost £900m per year. The IT team, based in Exeter and Bournemouth, has an annual budget of between £6m and £7m and employs 122 people.
The Mears Group had been working with a single preferred supplier of IT hardware and software for several years. Although the procurement team was not dissatisfied with the relationship, it wanted to challenge the status quo and assess its options.
The team had a benchmarking solution in place that would allow them to see what margins suppliers were charging above the trade price. With this information to hand, the procurement team decided to review the market and find the best prices available.
Claire Wilkinson, Head of Service Delivery, said: “We had been sticking to what we knew for quite some time, and we wanted to look at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes. What we quickly realised was that a better alternative was available.”
Mears Group discovered that they could guarantee low margins and therefore prices for IT by purchasing products and services through the Probrand Marketplace.
The Probrand Marketplace saves users time and money when procuring IT by offering price comparisons on products from multiple suppliers. Mears Group now has access to more than 300,000 products from 2,500 brands.
All prices and stock levels are updated by-the-minute in a ‘live’ transparent environment – with technical experts on hand to support buying decisions when needed.
Sector specific deals, that customers are entitled to receive from manufacturers, are automatically highlighted when Mears Group login to their personalised purchasing environment.
Additionally, the Probrand Marketplace can be configured for even deeper procurement governance and savings, integrating with existing systems, adding new categories and building out functionality, like guided advisors and purchase-to-pay workflows.
The Probrand Marketplace has been accredited for delivering financial benefits by the Institute of Chartered Accountants, procurement excellence by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) and innovation with a Queen’s Award.
Gaining access to lower IT product prices was Mears Group’s initial concern but the procurement team has found several additional benefits from using the Probrand Marketplace.
Better fulfilment process
Greater control over the fulfilment process has proved to be a major benefit for Mears Group. With many of the processes automated, the procurement team is no longer waiting for quotes or worrying about whether an order was completed; they have all the right information at their fingertips.
“With our previous supplier, we wouldn’t know if an item had been delivered as there was little or no communication,” said Claire. “We’d only find out when our own customer contacted us. We could then find ourselves in a situation where we were being told that the product was out of stock or that we’d have to wait two weeks.”
She added: “The experience is a big improvement on what we had before; the Proband Marketplace is like a business version of Amazon but better. They let us know who has signed for the product and when. The whole admin process a lot simpler and it enables us to get products to customers much faster.”
The combination of Probrand Marketplace’s catalogue format and the ‘in-person’ support service is helping Mears Group cut the time required to find suitable products.
Claire said: “99% of the time we can find products just fine, as the search function is very good. Having an image next to all products also provides reassurance that you are buying the right product.
“Although, on those occasions when an older model is going out of stock, we can call the support team, who are really knowledgeable and tell us what new models are coming through. In general, the whole shopping experience is more pleasurable with the Probrand Marketplace.”
Lower overall costs
The procurement team found that, when the consolidated cost of shipping was taken into consideration alongside lower product prices, the savings delivered by the Probrand Marketplace are considerable.
“We do sometimes check to see if we can buy things cheaper elsewhere but this is rarely the case. We are making savings every day – this might be £10 on monitor or £150 on a software license. When you add up all these day-to-day savings, it makes a huge difference,” Claire said.