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"As the company has grown, so has our use of FileMaker. While we have invested in larger IT systems, we still use FileMaker as a flexible front end. It is less expensive than other options and is a database technology we all trust and are comfortable using." Niall McAtasney, Chief Technology Officer, Icon Live

Icon Live adds a bit of sparkle with FileMaker

FileMaker makes stock ordering a breeze for international jewellery firm

Overview

  • FileMaker helps work out the level of new stock customers require before running out and improving on responding to clients around the globe

Industry

  • Jewellery wholesaler reaches out to the global market with the help of FileMaker

Solution

  • Using an SQL database alongside FileMaker services will ensure stock is ordered, processed and delivered on time. The system will be able to automatically work out the level of new stock required by individual clients

Benefits

  • Having an automated stock order system reduces unnecessary IT costs and makes remote working easier

Based at headquarters in Burgess Hill, Sussex, Icon Live is a jewellery concession, wholesale and licensing business that has partnerships with a wide range of retailers, spread across the high street, department store and supermarket sectors. Key brands like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Next sell Icon Live’s products while the company also has a global license for French Connection jewellery and supplies branded accessories to franchises worldwide. With a Disney licence for the UK, Icon Live has created products around film releases such as High School Musical and Hannah Montana. In addition, it also holds an official licence to produce accessories and souvenirs for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and has recently unveiled an innovative range of merchandise.

Licensed souvenirs for London 2012
Licensed souvenirs for London 2012

The challenge:

Icon Live has expanded its operation impressively over the past decade or so, growing from a turnover on £10m in 1999 to a turnover of around £110 million today. This growth has involved not only extending the global network of agents and employees who help source materials but also increasing the number of markets it sells into.

But with this growth has come the need to develop IT systems that underlie the operation, making sure that the business can cope with increased demand as well as improve its responsiveness to clients based around the globe.

According chief technology officer, Niall McAtasney, at the heart of this technology development is the on-going use of the FileMaker database, a product the firm has been using since 1999.

He says: “Back then, when we had 15 or so employees, we used FileMaker simply to process purchase orders. But today, we have 300 employees and our use of FileMaker has expanded as the company has grown.”


We all know where we are with FileMaker...I can tweak the system in response to any changes in the market without having to incur any expensive developer costs.

—Niall McAtasney, Chief Technology Officer, Icon Live
The system automatically works out the level of new stock individual customers require
The system automatically works out the level of new stock individual customers require

The FileMaker solution:

Foremost among the innovations developed by Niall and his team is a sophisticated stock replenishment system. Using an SQL database with a FileMaker front end, the system automatically works out the level of new stock individual customers require before collecting new stock items and preparing them for delivery.

Whereas previously, staff would manually take sales information from clients, such as Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda, to calculate the stock items that need replenishing, nowadays this task is carried out automatically before employees turn up for work – allowing Icon Live to be more responsive to clients needs and freeing up staff to do other jobs.

“The FileMaker scheduler receives sales information from the different clients by e-mail at 4am every morning,” says Niall.

“This data will be in different formats but the system converts and posts it across to the SQL database. By six o'clock all the data is ready. Prior to this system going live, it used to take people up to midday to get the information together.”

Having calculated what items are required for replenishment, a barcode is printed and attached to a container. This barcode is then scanned, allowing the ‘tub’ to pass along a predetermined route on a conveyor belt, passing through a number of stations where jewellery items are stored. The correct items are then placed into the tub automatically based on the barcode. Finally, and once all the items for a particular client have been placed in the container, a Fedex label is automatically generated ready for postage.

“Now all of these processes occur automatically, which has made a huge difference to the way we work and the number of customers we can deliver to,” adds Niall.

With employees based around the globe sourcing materials and liaising with customers, FileMaker has also been used to create a system where they can phone in the hours they have worked remotely.

“It’s an automated system where our people key in their reference number and their hours. These details are sent to a FileMaker database where all the pay bands are stored and from there the payroll system is updated,” continues Niall.

Icon Live’s impressive expansion has recently led the company to install a new purchase order system based on Microsoft Dynamics AX. The system however, still features various FileMaker interfaces - a decision, Niall says, that was made because of the flexibility it affords.

He adds: “We all know where we are with FileMaker – it is very straightforward to use. I used to be a member of the FileMaker Solutions Alliance as a developer, which means I can tweak the system in response to any changes in the market without having to incur any expensive developer costs.”

Notable benefits:

  • Automated stock replenishment – FileMaker lies at the heart of a sophisticated system that uses customer stock information to automatically work out which items need replenishing
  • Remote working – another application based on FileMaker that Icon Live uses allows employees from around the globe to call in the hours they have worked and automatically record the details on the payroll system
  • Reduced IT costs – FileMaker’s ease of use means Niall can make changes to the database himself without needing to call in expensive external contractors

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