Sofology is putting technology at the heart of its supply chain and distribution network, which it says has helped improve the visibility and flexibility of its delivery operation.

The sofa retailer – until recently known as Sofaworks – shifted from a centralised planning system which did not allow customisation of delivery routes to take into account local knowledge or real-time incidents. Working with telematics provider, Communicate Better, the business chose and invested in a customisable system that links with its existing technology and is expected, in time, to reduce operational costs and improve customer service.  

The tool chosen by Sofology was the Maxoptra platform, which is part of fleet software group, Magenta Technology. It is now deployed at each of the company's regional depots and is used to schedule and route all deliveries, while its integration with TomTom telematics Webfleet means specific jobs or routes can be automatically allocated and dispatched to drivers according to a range of operational requirements.

Ian Millard, group transport manager at Sofology, remarked: "We chose Maxoptra as it was very cost effective yet offered us the flexibility to increase and decrease our fleet as necessary to take into account seasonal fluctuations in service demand."

He added that the new technology allows the retailer to share real-time information using a 'track and trace' screen, which gives other departments visibility of how each vehicle or team is performing.

Sofology operates a fleet of more than 70 commercial vehicles from six distribution centres around the UK. It completes over 500 deliveries daily and more than 3,000 deliveries each week.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, furniture and floorings retailer SCS announced that one of the operational highlights from its first half of trading was the successful implementation of route planning and central arranging initiatives, which it claims has improved efficiencies in distribution. The company did not name the technology provider it is working alongside.

SCS gross sales for the 26 weeks to 23 January 2016 were up by 10.2% year on year to £145.4 million, while the organisation's operating loss of £3.4 million was an improvement on the £5.3 million loss from one year before.

The retailer also cited a positive partnership with department store chain, House of Fraser, where concession gross sales were up by 18.1% year on year. The retailer's eCommerce platform saw sales rise by 17.3% to £4.3 million.

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