Director of Epos firm Citrus-Lime, Neil McQuillan believes retail and supplier stock listings can now run as a seamless, real-time operation. Mark Sutton finds out how this is being achieved in this interview…
How long has Citrus-Lime been in the biz and how’s the cycle trade treating you?
The cycle trade has been fantastic for us. At Core 2009 we had two cycle customers, two years later we have a decent and growing estate of IBDs signed up. Our sales are up 25 per cent year-on-year, and as we come towards completing our financial year we will see significant growth in revenues and profits. As we are self-financing, a large proportion of these profits will be used to fund research and development and to grow our staff numbers to support our expanding customer base.
How many retailers are you working with in the cycle business?
Fifty enrolled or signed up Epos sites in the trade. I believe there is space for two, perhaps three, main players in the cycle Epos and ecommerce market; our strategy was to be one of these companies. By having the most forward thinking and integrated product, I believe we are well on the way to achieving this. We’ve moved from a niche player to having good market share in 24 months.
What are the key advantages to using Citrus-Lime products and services?
Our Supplier Integration Module is designed specifically to deal with cycle and outdoor products, with support for seasonality, size and colour. We’ve spent tens of thousands of pounds developing this system. Tight integration to the supply chain is unquestionably the future way that cycle dealers will work with distributors. No one else out there has a fraction of the functionality in this module and we unquestionably lead the market in terms of functionality.
Our dedication to Cycle and Outdoor is reflected by our focus on developing bespoke solutions for this market and its specific needs. We are the only multi-channel retail company, which focuses on these verticals.
Has the micro-site showing off Citrus-Lime’s various modules launched yet?
The first in a series of Microsites, each focusing solely on a different Module, will be rolled out at the start of April. The Supplier Integration Module Microsite contains a wealth of information on the features of SIM v2.0, as well as development announcements, blog updates and audio/visual content in the form of SIM TV: linking screen captured user guides in multi-resolution formats.
How many staff does Citrus-Lime employ?
Currently 16, with another new member of the support team coming on board soon.
What after-sales service do you provide?
We have no automated answering system and we work really hard to ensure a real person answers the phone promptly. We are currently recruiting from the cycle trade to ensure that we understand the issues of the trade, as well as providing customer support.
What price plans do you have available?
We have a standard payment plan, which includes a deposit and then payments on staged deliveries. We also work with a number of finance companies for those retailers who want to spread the cost.
How often are software updates applied? Are these FOC to existing customers?
It depends on the software, but updates are free for customers on support. During the last financial year we spent £40,000 on pure research and development. Our growth in the last 12 months will see this figure increase. Our ecommerce platform has also been updated to the very latest version of Microsoft’s development platform.
To what extent can you tailor a product to the shop and workshop?
Ours is a standard offering, though if a shop has a good idea it will be rolled into our core product. Supporting hundreds of different software installs would be impossible, so it’s about having a good standard offering with enough flexibility to deal with the common workflows and processes in the workshop.
Tell us a bit about the developments in your supplier integration module:
Citrus-Lime’s Supplier Integration Module is now established as version 2.0 following its launch after Core Bike. The core functionality remains as versatile and intuitive as before, but the End User Interface has been reworked. With upgraded accessibility, the key features of importing and accessing accurate stock information are daily tools throughout a retailer’s business, from back office to point of sale. SIM v.2.0 will continue to develop and evolve to address the competitive demand to operate multi-channel retail businesses via an integrated stock system.
Which suppliers do you now work with?
At present we’ve got established partnerships with Madison, Giant, Scott, Endura, Bob Elliot, Madison Snow, Arc’ Teyrx and O’Neill. However, we’re also finalising with Zyro, Paligap, Chicken Cyclekit, Fisher Outdoor, 2pure and Montane.
How can new dealers and suppliers help grow this module?
The biggest issue we have at the moment is that not all suppliers store size and colour information in their platforms. While we can work with data without this information, it’s of extremely limited value and would require extensive reworking. The global brands are largely clued up to this, and we are seeing some great examples in the UK supply chain.
We need our customers to explain to suppliers the importance of good information; ultimately it saves time at the dealers, and leads to more products getting into customers’ hands.